High steaks in the lottery of cooking a sirlon to perfection

I have always been quite indifferent to the taste of red meat and while the mere mention of a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings brings most to the point of dribbling, the image does not leave me foaming at the mouth.

My issue with red meat stems from a childhood in the Irish countryside where meat was served overcooked and dry; there seemed to be an underlying fear a slight hint of pinkness might see the cow rise from the plate and dander back out to the field.

To my young and uninformed taste buds the aftertaste of red meat was on a par with what I can only imagine steel tastes like, no offence mother (cremating meat was your only culinary downfall).

Steak with Basil and Aniseed butter

These days I have acquired a taste for a tender piece of steak cooked medium, and while practice generally makes perfect finding this ‘inbetweener’ point often eludes me and the centre of my steak is either borderline fleshy or overdone.

A (rough) guide to steak cooking times:

  • Blue: Meat is almost flash fried on both sides and just warm. 1 ½ minutes on each side and the meat will feel soft and spongy.
  • Rare: Meat will be dark red in colour and will appear fleshy. 2 ½ minutes on each side and the meat will feel slightly soft and spongy.
  • Medium: Meat will be pale pink in the middle and juicy. 4 minutes on each side and the meat will feel firm and springy.
  • Well-done: The meat should be cooked through.  6 minutes on each side (or ten minutes for super well done).

Hopefully this guide will help you cook steak to your liking and now for the perfect dressing – basil and aniseed butter.

I discovered this in Peru at a steakhouse and it really is a divine accompaniment, so instead of loading up the pepper mill for peppered sauce or frying off onions and mushrooms why not try this butter.

This recipe will produce enough butter to coat two steaks.

Chopped Basil, Fennel Seeds and Butter

Chopped Basil, Fennel Seeds and Butter


  • 2 sirloin steaks, around 2cm thick
  • 25grams of real butter – full fat and at its gluttonous best
  • An additional blob of butter to cook the steak
  • 10-15 fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper


  • Cut the butter and leave at room temperature to soften.
  • Lay the steaks out flat on a plate or chopping board and season each side liberally with fresh black pepper and sea salt.
  • Rub this in to the steaks and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Crush the fennel seeds,chop the basil and combine with the butter. Mix well together.
  • The butter should still look like butter, see picture to right.
  • Add a  piece of plain butter to a frying pan on a high heat and once the pan is sizzling hot, add the steaks.
  • Turn the steaks at the desired interval as per the guide above.
  • Take a blob of the basil butter and spread it on top of the steak, allowing it to melt into the meat as it cooks.
  • Rest the steak for a few minutes before serving with homemade chips. I usually sprinkle my chips with smoked paprika to add flavour.






1 thought on “High steaks in the lottery of cooking a sirlon to perfection

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s