The Butcher & The Cook: How to Buy a T-Bone Steak

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Our series The Cook & The Butcher offers advice from James Kenny from The Brown Pig butchers about how to buy different cuts of meat, some popular, others more adventurous, while the cook, Anne Kennedy, the food editor of gréatfood, shows you how to cook them and shares her favourite recipe. This feature is about T-Bone steak. ‘In the world of the butcher the T-Bone is considered the king of steaks’, says James. ‘It has a central T-shaped bone with a strip loin on one side and a fillet on the other and it comes from the back of the animal.’

THE BUTCHER: When you choose a T-Bone steak ask your butcher to cut it two inches thick with a good-sized fillet so it is suitable for sharing. Make sure that it has a generous layer of fat on the outside which is firm and consistent all along the steak (this fat bastes the steak when you cook it, adds flavour and stops it becoming dry).

HOW LONG SHOULD A T-BONE STEAK BE AGED FOR?
A mature or dry-aged T-Bone steak will have darker edges around the fillet – this is an excellent sign. The ageing of beef is important. The maturation process should be no less than 21 days and the meat should be hung on the bone in a dry-ageing fridge. This allows the meat to mature properly and enhances the flavour and tenderness of the steak.

WHAT KIND OF ANIMAL DOES YOUR T-BONE STEAK COME FROM?
Always ask your butcher what type of beef s/he uses. Whether it’s a steer, a heifer or a cow will determine the quality of the meat. Heifer beef is, in my opinion, the best beef to buy aged.

THE COOK: HOW TO COOK A THICK T-BONE STEAK
The best way to cook a sharing T-Bone steak that is medium-rare – it’s the best way to enjoy it – is to cook it so that it is well-seared on the outside and rare in the middle with an internal temperature of 53C, then leave it covered loosely in tin foil to ‘rest’ for ten minutes so the juices flow back through the meat. By that time it should registers 63C which is medium-rare.

HOW TO COOK A T-BONE STEAK SO THAT IT IS MEDIUM-RARE
Take the meat out of the fridge between 30 minutes to 2 hours before cooking and season it generously with sea salt (you should think you are using a little too much salt). Cover with tin foil. You need it to come to room temperature – otherwise the steak will cook on the outside and take too long to cook inside (that’s why you sometimes get a hot steak that is cold in the middle, the restaurant has not removed the steak from the fridge in time).

Place a large non-stick, stainless steel or copper pan over a medium to high heat (use a medium heat for non-stick). When you can barely hold your hand an inch over the frying pan, add the steak (don’t use any oil, you won’t need it and it will just burn. The meat will form a natural seal). Cook the steak for four minutes on one side without touching it or lifting it. Use a tongs to turn the steak (a knife or fork will pierce the meat and let juices flow out). Cook the second side for four minutes. Turn the steak again and cook for two minutes. Make a small cut in the middle of the T-Bone with a sharp knife to check if it is cooked to your liking. Keep cooking it for another minute or two if you need to.

Remove the steak to a plate, sprinkle over a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a knob of butter or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Cover loosely with tin foil and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes. Place the T-Bone on a platter and bring to the table.

Why do you not add black pepper until the end of cooking? 
If you season the steak with black pepper, the pepper will scorch and burn. I always add it at the end of cooking.

To make a Fiorentina Steak With Rosemary and Balsamic Dressing remove the T-Bone steak to a serving plate and season with sea salt and black pepper. Leave to rest. Meanwhile add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the pan in which you cooked the steak, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of chopped rosemary. Heat for a minute or two until it sizzles. Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the steak and serve with rocket leaves. You’ll find a detailed step-by-step recipe here. Serve with a T-Bone Sharing Steak with Rosemary Roast Potatoes and maché or rocket leaves.

Internal Cooking Temperatures for a T-Bone Steak

Use a temperature probeto check the internal temperature of your T-Bone Steak when it’s cooking. They are so easy to use: just press the metal prong into the thickest part of the meat and read the temperature.

You’ll find the correct temperatures for the T-Bone below. If the centre of the meat hasn’t reached the correct temperature cook it for a little longer and check again. While meat is resting it rises in temperature from between 5 to 10 degrees so remove it from the frying pan or oven before it reaches the optimum temperature so that it isn’t over-cooked. The temperatures below reflect this. Lightly cover the meat in tin foil while it is resting so it doesn’t get cold (if the foil covering is too tight the meat will steam). While the meat rests the juices flow back through the meat and that’s what makes it tender and juicy.

Rare: 50C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Medium-rare: 53C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Medium: 61C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Well-done: 67C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes

You’ll find James Kenny behind his counter at The Brown Pig Butchers in Terenure Village, Dublin 6w and his meat products are also on sale at Wilde & Green at Milltown Road, Milltown, Dublin 6.

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