Food photography 1: Rib-eye steak

I have been decided to do a new series on food photography, to showcase the food which is prepared in my house including the final product just prior to eating.

For the first of this series, I will be posting about how I cook rib-eye steak. I do like to buy and use gadgets, especially those which use less conventional methods to do cooking. Hence I acquired a small Sous Vide machine to cook meat to a higher level – this is the technique used in top restaurants such as Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin star Fat Duck restaurant.

My Sous vide machine
My small Sous vide machine

For those who don’t know, Sous vide is french for ‘under vacuum’ and is a method of cooking in a controlled water bath at a set desired temperature for the meat being cooked. This usually involves longer cooking at lower temperatures, so as not to overcook the meat i.e. it gives the cook more control over the cooking environment.

The meat to be cooked is first vacuum sealed in food-grade plastic bags. The meat is then placed in the water bath and cooked at a constant and optimum temperature for the level of cooking desired. Each meat has a different optimum temperature and time for cooking. The heat  gradually penetrates into the meat and  cooks it evenly right into the core.

The steaks I chose this time were 28-days matured Rib-eye steak (Tesco’s finest), and were the thickest cuts I could find; unfortunately Aberdeen Angus Rib-eye steaks which are my preferred, are not that easy to find. We prefer Rib-eye to sirloin, as we find them more flavoursome. Notice the marbled effect of the fat running through the meat, which is a hallmark of the juiciest and tastiest cuts of quality meat.

Rib-eye steak vacuum sealed
Rib-eye steak vacuum sealed
Steak in water bath
Steak in water bath

My settings for medium-cooked steak is: 56 degrees centigrade for 2 hours. Once done, the meat is taken out (juice left is used to flavour the peppercorn sauce), dried with some kitchen towel, seasoned with salt and allowed to stand for about half an hour.

Though the sous vide technique does cook the meat evenly, the outside of the meat needs a little time on a hot fry pan to give it a brown look – I find 30-45 seconds to be sufficient to brown the steak without overcooking it. I then serve this with air fried chips (minimal oil but maximum taste – healthy & nice) and peppercorn sauce (with the juice from the steak to enhance its flavour). Add some salad or plum tomatoes, and the dish is ready to serve.

The final results:

Rib-eye steak with chips, salad and peppercorn sauce
Rib-eye steak with chips, salad and peppercorn sauce
Close-up of steak
Close-up of steak
Slice of steak to show it is evenly cooked through to the centre
Slice of steak to show it is evenly cooked through to the centre

And what would juicy red meat be without some nice mature red wine? This time I chose the Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet-Merlot 2002, a 12 year old New Zealand wine to go with the steak (I have aged this wine for over 7-8 years now).

I do like to drink some mature red wine with my steaks for two reasons – 1) it goes very well with the meat and actually enhances the flavour from the meat, and 2) red wine is supposed to be good for the heart and reduces the risk of bowel cancer when drunk in moderation (1 glass is enough for me).

Do be aware that there is evidence to suggest that increased red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing bowel cancer. I don’t eat red meat often but when I do, I tend to drink red wine with it for its protective effect.

Villa Maria Cabernet Merlot 2002
Villa Maria Cabernet Merlot 2002
Glass of Villa Maria Cabernet-Merlot
Glass of Villa Maria Cabernet-Merlot

Analysis of the wine: it was still slightly acidic (I find this typical of wine in Stelvin closure i.e. screw-top) but the tannins had mellowed. It had strong scent of chocolate and cedar right from the start. It did go very well with the steak, and helped refresh the palate in between the each slice of the steak. The rib-eye had a melt in the mouth texture – lovely. I’m glad my wife & youngest daughter enjoyed it. Well worth the effort.

Boon