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Steak as a science
Vyacheslav DELBERG, Brand Chief of GOODMAN’s steak houses, answers questions about steaks.
The first GOODMAN’s steak house was opened in Kyiv a year ago. It is a place where steaks are cooked in accordance with all the rules: the beef comes from bullocks of special meat breeds; the equipment at the cutting edge of technology is used — natural wood charcoal is ideal for cooking steaks; thanks to it the meat is brought to the degree of readiness requested by the customer. GOODMAN’s steak houses are doing successful business in London, England, and Moscow and Novosibirsk, Russia. At a GOODMAN’s steak house, you will be offered wonderfully tasty meat and you can also learn a lot about the fascinating world of steaks.
Vyacheslav, let me ask you a very simple question: What is a steak? Just a piece of cooked meat?
How did you guess? Generally speaking if you want to give it a definition in several simple words it would be the following: steak is a piece of beef between 1 and 2 inches thick, cut across the fibres. Why necessarily across? Because in that case fibres are set in vertical direction, “pores” are opened, and the heat is going through them evenly, warming meat up to the required temperature. A steak should be fried only on natural charcoal.
So, if I cut a piece of meat across the fibres and fry it on charcoal… would it be a steak?
Not really. Do you know that the “simplicity” of steak has misled quite a few people? Take beef for example. Not every kind of it is suitable for a steak. You can only use beef from special meat breeds of bullocks among which the Aberdeen Angus and Hereford are the best. And even that is not enough since only the muscles which were not set in animal’s movements, so to speak, can be used. In other words steaks are cut from the most tender and soft meat which constitutes only 10% of total weight.
Where can we get such meat?
In GOODMAN we get it from Australia. This country is famous for its high quality beef. Actually there are very few countries which produce good beef. Apart from Australia I can name Argentina and the USA…
Why so few? Is it that difficult to raise a bullock?
If it was simple, we also would’ve been able to do it. I have visited stock farms and factories in Australia, the USA, and Argentina, and can say that their produce is both natural and ecologically sound as well as ultra-modern and highly technological. Every single bullock has its own electronic chip where all the relevant information is stored. Every single bullock has its own feeding schedule and ration. We order marbled beef from our suppliers. The animals have to be fed specially balanced grain mixtures to achieve this result.
What is marbled beef?
This is a meat with fat layers which form a unique pattern. This meat is very highly valued and deservedly so. Not everyone is aware that the main taste in meat comes from fat. The meat as such has no taste.
What other requirements are there? Should the meat be fresh?
Fresh? Yes. Freshly-killed? Never. Don’t be surprised. Freshly-killed meat is not really the best. It used to be popular simply because there were no good methods of storing it. The meat should’ve been consumed as quickly as possible before it went off. However we ARE living in the 21st century and eating freshly-killed meat is unnecessary. The steak meat should “ripen”, only then its full taste potential can be developed. There are special methods, but in a nutshell, beef should be kept for at least 14 days in zero temperature, set moisture and air rotation. The aged meat is much softer, more tender and better for your health than freshly-killed.
Very well. Let us assume that I have such meat. Can I then cook a steak by myself?
This is a funny question. It is the same as if you asked:” I have all the parts for a “Mercedes”. Can I assemble it by myself?” You need many other things apart from high-quality meat to cook a real steak. And firstly you would need a proper stove.
What about an ordinary grill?
It is impossible to set a necessary temperature in a grill. And temperature for a steak is very important. A professional stove combines the possibility to cook on wood charcoal and modern technologies like managing temperatures. The temperature of 350°C ensures a setting of crust which prevents meat from losing juices. It is very important to change the temperature after the meat is “sealed” to the one which will provide the necessary degree of doneness.
And what are the degrees of doneness?
There are 5 main degrees of doneness: Rare (with blood), medium rare (the inside of the piece is pink in colour), medium (pale pink juice inside), medium well (almost done, juice transparent) and well done.
Different steaks stipulate different degrees of doneness (for example: “New York” should be done medium rare, “Chateaubriand” — medium). People also have different tastes, some of them like their meat with blood, others — not really. But in any case we don’t recommend a well-done meat. It makes steaks pointless. The difference in doneness is only about 3–4 degrees and a good chef could establish readiness by sight. However there is one more ritual: A chef is always checking each steak’s temperature with a special thermometer before serving it to the guests.
So many nuances. And do you need special qualifications to eat steaks?
Not really qualifications, but certain knowledge wouldn’t go amiss. Like the experienced eaters know that a steak should be cut through the middle the moment it has been brought to the table. Otherwise it’ll still be cooking on your plate. Any person who knows anything about steaks treats them differently and gets an enormous pleasure out of eating them. That’s why our steak houses are so popular. People like the culture of steak and that’s wonderful!
Vyacheslav Delberg's motto is