Fifteen Second Rule

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts – work has been intruding of late, but pockets of clear air are beginning to appear.

So last night the vacuum sealer decided to give up the ghost, which was inconvenient as I was planning to sous-vide a couple of steaks for one of our favourite weeknight meals, “Steak on a Plate”. I had successfully gotten one ribeye sacked and vac’ed with a bit of salt, pepper and garlic oil ready to go in the water bath: 55 degrees for 55 minutes was the plan. When I hit the button on steak number two however, the machine just growled loudly and refused to work (but enough about my ex-wife!).

As annoying as this was – and it does throw a spanner in some of the weekend’s cooking plans – it gave me a chance to try something out which I’d read in Modernist Cuisine, a.k.a. the greatest Christmas present ever. Essentially the theory is that if you flip a steak every fifteen seconds (as opposed to flipping it once “and leaving the damn thing alone” as we were all taught to do in our youth) you get a much better result. Heat doesn’t build up as quickly beneath the outer crust of the steak, the meat cooks more evenly, needs less resting time, and even finishes quicker.

I should have taken a picture, because yeah, it worked. Sure it meant standing over a searing hot pan for six minutes and counting to fifteen-Mississippi about 18 times (you only get three flips in a minute as it takes about five seconds per turn). But the result was perfection: A nice crust, then very little brown before a wide, even core of pinkish-red flesh.

Next time you’re cooking a steak, give this a try. When I don’t have the equipment or the time to sous-vide, this will be my go-to technique.

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