Eduardo Tuccillo, chef proprietor of Twist Kitchen, on choosing and cooking the perfect steak
Words: Ellie Costigan
When buying beef, I insist on meat from Black Angus cattle that are less than 24 months old. The only way to know this is to ask your butcher. Look for meat that appears moist, and is free of stickiness. Beef should have virtually no odour, unless you are buying dry-aged meat which can have a corn-like smell. You want beef that is an even, light red—almost pink in colour. Beef with a dark red or purplish hue comes from an old animal. In the industry, they’re referred to as ‘dark cutters’—meaning it’s at the lower end of the quality spectrum.
The most important thing is choosing the right butcher. Sometimes they buy meat from all over the place and you really don’t know where it’s from—what the cow has been fed, how long it has been hung for, or how old it is, and also how it has been treated during its life and when slaughtered. Our supplier makes sure the cows do not stress at any point; you can taste that in the meat.
I don’t think there is such thing as the ‘perfect’ way to cook a steak—but there are ways you can make it good. We season ours with sea salt, Szechuan pepper and black pepper, to give it a bit of a kick. Once cooked and rested, we cut it into tiny slices, plate it up and drizzle with a special sauce. It’s nothing fancy: just a little bit of smoked garlic, honey, and barrel-aged white wine vinegar, which has this kind of woody taste.
My opinion is that the right way to eat a steak is medium-rare. But it’s about personal taste. I don’t think it hurts if someone wants it well done, but to me it doesn’t make sense because you are killing the flavour.
I believe there is a golden rule for any meat you’re cooking: it has to be at room temperature before you cook it. Even a hamburger. It is always best to let it rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes when you take it out of the fridge. Especially for the Josper oven—350C of charcoal and smoke. Put it in cold and it will be a mess. It’s important for it to rest after it’s cooked, too. The meat needs to be relaxed; soft and tender.
It is difficult to recreate a Josper-cooked steak at home, but you can almost replicate the effect with a barbecue. You just need good charcoal—we use three types here: two from the UK, one for the heat, one for the smoke, and one from Canada which is proper oak wood, which gives it a very unique taste. Otherwise, the process is the same.
The t-bone is my favourite steak. It has two cuts of meat attached to the same bone, and they are the most luxurious cuts: the fillet and the sirloin. The fillet is very lean and tender, while the sirloin is very different in texture, but full of flavour. Here, we choose the t-bone because we want to create that feeling of primitiveness—we cook on the fire, serve it on the bone.