Like with all the best cooking it takes a bit of time to get an outstanding result.
I love meat, I grew up with meat grilled over an open fire, actually a 44-gallon drum cut in half, red hot coals and a rudimentary grilling rack. The smell of smoke and the taste of sea salt is still with me. The steaks were always grilled on the bone in thick pieces to achieve a crust and served rare. If the fire got to hot it was doused in a little beer to quell the flames. The meat was always served well rested family style with hot mustard or horseradish.
Choose a good quality well marbled piece of meat and get your butcher to move his knife a little and cut a good size steak, about 1kg with the bone in. My best mate is Anthony Puharich of Vic’s meat so I am a little spoilt for choice.
A lot of people prefer tenderness to flavour, but for me the steak closest to a food memory for me needs flavour and texture. Rangers Valley in Glen Innes NSW produces some of the best beef in the world and it is just up the road. The Black Angus starts it life on grass and is transitioned to a high energy ration of barley, corn, and silage for 270 days. The best 5% of these cattle make up a select brand called Black Market. This meat has a higher marble score over 5+ and is aged for 4-6 weeks by the team at Vic’s Meat. This is not the meat you eat every day but is one of the best steaks I have ever had, including the ones off the 44-gallon drum.
There are 2 things a good fire needs, time and wood, and that is not just any wood. The wood needs to be hard and slow burning with an intense heat and little smoke. The best wood for making the coals to grill this type of steak in Australian iron bark. Well-seasoned fallen timber is the best, split into good sized pieces that will make for extremely hot coals. A good fire takes time so plan ahead and use the fire wisely, there is always something you can grill before or after the main event.
If you have the meat and the fire just perfect it is worth not overlooking the salt at this point.
I like a salt with character and one that is not overly processed, Olsson’s Mineral grey salt tastes like the ocean and is naturally dried thus retaining its trace elements and marine minerals.
Make sure you meat is at room temperature, this means still cool not melting in the sun. salt the steak on the side you plan to grill first. As the meat is well marbles there is no need for oil as this can also burn and leave an acrid taste. Grill the meat about 10cm above the coals and don’t muck around with it to much. I like to grill over a wire rack that is quite fine, this allows the meat to get a crust and does not have a burns carbonised taste left by heavier grilling bars.
Cook for about 5 min and then just before you turn the steak salt the uncooked side. Cook for another 5 minutes until a good crust has started to appear. Move the steak to a cooler part of the coals and continue to cook just turning once more, most of this is practice and not allowing the meat to cook more on one side than the other.
A good rest:
Once the meat is ready remove it from the grill and place the grilled deliciousness on another rack to cool. This allows residual heat to finish the cooking process and the heat to have time to permeate the steak. A well-rested steak will carve easily and have a consistent colour from the crust to the bone. If you don’t have a resting rack you can always place the meat on 2 or 3 forks to allow the air to circulate under it. Never put your just grill meat on a cold plate. A 1kg steak should resat in a warm spot, not the oven!! Uncovered for about 10 min.
Now Don’t ruin it:
I think the best thing about a great steak is the steak, if you have taken this much time to follow the steps please don’t cover the meat in sauces or overly strong condiments. The flavour of the meat cooked in this way is exceptional. The meat is rich and has great texture, a simple sliced tomato or dressed green salad is the perfect foil to the meat and a great palate cleanser, good Australian Pinot Noir will do the job just as well.