How to Cook the Perfect Steak with Chef John Mathers


How do you like your steak? John Mathers of Newforge House in Co. Armagh gives us his tips on how to cook the perfect steak.

John Mathers is Head Chef and owner of Newforge House in Co. Armagh. He recently told us the story of his career journey in our blog series on How to Become a Chef. While we were chatting, he also talked about how he loves to cook steak, which he gets from a local supplier who hangs and dry ages his own beef in a salt chamber, so it is well flavoured and perfectly tender. Steak is a signature dish at Newforge House, always in demand, says John. So who better to tell us how to cook it properly?!

Here are John’s tips for a perfect piece of steak:

What to look for when buying steak:

‘I always look for a nice fatty well marbled piece of steak which has been dry aged on the bone in the traditional way. You don’t need too much oil too cook it, because the fat from the natural marbling in the beef will melt off into the pan. I really like ribeye steak, but it’s down to personal taste which cut you choose.’  

How to cook:

‘Firstly, I take my steak out of the fridge a little while before I want to cook it and bring it to room temperature. I get my pan searing hot before I start cooking. Then I season the steak with salt but not pepper. I add a tiny splash of oil to the very hot pan and seal both sides of the steak before cooking to preference.’

Rare, medium or well done?

The best way to tell if it is cooked to your liking is to prod it with your finger. There will be not much resistance if it’s a rare to medium rare steak, and it gets firmer as it cooks longer. So well done steak has the most resistance when you prod the meat. You have to get the balance right for well-done steak, because you want it to be still juicy and succulent but without any sign of pinkness. That’s always a challenge and it’s all in the timing and experience! I season my steaks with freshly ground black pepper after cooking.’

Resting the meat:

‘The most important thing with steak is to rest it after cooking. Depending on the size of the steak, it needs at least five minutes to sit, so the juices are absorbed back into the meat. This is what is going to make the steak juicy on the plate. I can’t stress enough how important this stage is, and it’s one that people forget to do at home. When you do it, you see how much difference it makes to the end result.’

Thanks for that John. Our mouths are watering already. We can’t wait to get the pan out and have a steak this evening! And perhaps some chips to go with it…

Watch out for our next Trick of the Trade from one of our leading chefs in the Good Food Ireland network.