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The perfect sirloin steak

Sirloin steaks are one of the tastiest, juiciest cuts of beef and are quick and simple to cook at home. We show you how to make perfect, restaurant quality sirloin steaks every time and what to serve with them.

Sirloin steak

What cut of meat is sirloin?

The sirloin comes from the top of the cow's back and sits in front of the more heavily exercised rump. It's a popular cut which is usually separated into top sirloin, providing great steak cuts and bottom sirloin, which is good for roasting and grilling. Top sirloin steak, which we refer to simply as 'sirloin steak' in New Zealand, is a lean cut. It's boneless, has minimal fat marbling and has the perfect balance of tenderness and beefy flavour.

Sirloin is a very good cut of steak and is commonly served in restaurants. When cooked at home, with the right knowledge you can enjoy a deliciously tasty, tender steak any day of the week. If you're buying a whole sirloin and want to cut into individual steaks, the best thickness for your sirloin steak is 20 mm thick or one inch. This is perfect for a deliciously browned crust and a juicy pink interior.

Buying and safely handling sirloin steak

When buying sirloin steak, look for a rich red colour. It should appear moist, cold and firm to the touch.

If you plan to refrigerate the steak, it should ideally be consumed before the stated 'Best before date'. If you don't plan to eat the steak immediately, it can be placed in the freezer for up to 6 months, just remember to defrost before cooking. It's a great idea to buy steak in bulk when it's on special, then freeze it until needed. Find out how to save money on meat here. 

Sirloin steak cooking methods

Before you cook sirloin steak it's important to remove from the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and pat dry with a paper towel. Moisture will prevent you from achieving a brown crust when you begin to cook the steak.

There are a number of popular cooking methods to cook steaks and they all work well:

  • Grilling on a gas grill, BBQ or charcoal grill
  • Pan frying or searing in a cast iron pan
  • Searing in a heavy skillet then into the oven
  • Roasting in the oven

The perfect recipe for cooking the perfect steak

The secret behind delicious perfectly cooked steak is to sear the outside of the meat really quickly at a high heat, to trap the moisture in, then allow it to rest after cooking, so the muscle fibres can relax again, releasing the meat's juiciness.

Sirloin steak

It's easy to master the art of cooking sirloin steak recipes with these tried and trusted tips:

  1. Buy fresh steak: Buy fresh steak and bring to room temperature before cooking. Pat it dry on both sides to remove any moisture.
  2. Apply seasoning at the right time: Adding salt too soon can draw valuable moisture out of the meat. Salt should be added just before placing it in the pan. Black pepper can burn when cooked at high temperatures so wait to add when it's resting.
  3. Use an ovenproof cast iron skillet: This helps to maintain an even cooking temperature. Don't overcrowd the pan as the meat will begin to sweat rather than sear.
  4. Begin with olive oil: Place 2 Tablespoons of basic olive oil into the pan to stop the steaks from sticking.
  5. You need a hot pan: Get the pan to a high heat, then place the steaks into the pan.
  6. Sear steaks quickly: Cook steak quickly on each side until it has a nice brown crust on the outside without overcooking the inside.
  7. Add softened butter to the pan: Add a sprig of thyme and a Tablespoon of salted butter or garlic butter to the pan and quickly spoon over the steaks, this adds a delicious flavour to the beef.
  8. Preheat the oven: Place the pan into a preheated oven on a medium heat (180 degrees C) for the remainder of the cooking time. This will warm the middle of the steak to a nice pink.
  9. Cook to the desired temperature: Sirloin steak is best served medium rare. Using a meat thermometer check the temperature for medium rare which is 55 to 57 degrees Celsius, or use the middle finger and thumb for the touch test (see below).
  10. Remove and rest: Remove from the oven and place steaks on a clean wooden board. Grind some fresh black pepper over, cover with a clean tea towel and allow the steaks to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. (The longer the cooking time, the longer the steaks rest should be. This allows the meat fibres to relax.
  11. Slice against the grain and serve: For the most tender juicy steak, slice against the grain, plate up and enjoy.

How to know when your steak is ready

We all have a personal preference when it comes to the cooking of our steak. To keep everyone happy, we recommend you use one of the following methods to judge if the steak is done to perfection.

There are three universally used methods to determine if your sirloin steak is ready. They are time, temperature and feel.

1. Using time as an indicator of when your sirloin steak is done
Knowing how long to cook sirloin steak will help you to cook a great steak. Set a timer and closely watch the steak until it reaches the desired time (See table below)

2. Using internal temperature to indicate if your steak is ready
Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the steak. This removes the guesswork and is the most accurate way to measure if it's done.

3. Using the chefs preferred touch test 
Professional chefs use touch to judge if a steak is done or if it needs more cooking. This is a method you can use at home to feel the degree of softness or firmness in the meat. We suggest you make sure your hands are clean before touching the meat. This exercise involves bringing a specific finger into contact with the thumb and then feeling the fat pad below the base of the thumb and comparing it with the feel of the steak.

Steak preference Time on each side Internal temperature (degrees Celsius) Touch
 Rare  1.5 minutes  49-51  Index to thumb
Medium rare  2 minutes  55-57  Middle finger to thumb
 Medium  2.5 minutes  60-63  Ring finger to thumb
 Well done 4-5 minutes   71  Pinky finger to thumb

What can be served with sirloin steak?

Sirloin steak

You can use a sirloin steak marinade to flavour the meat before cooking and this is particularly successful when cooking on the grill. Butter is a perfect topping for steak and can be flavoured with garlic herbs or spices. Here are some other ingredients to serve with your steaks:

  • Garlic butter or herb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs
  • Big fat crunchy fries
  • Creamy mashed potato
  • Jacket potato
  • Onions
  • Chimichurri
  • Green salad with French dressing
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Grilled mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Garlic mushrooms
  • BBQ sauce
  • Bearnaise sauce/peppercorn sauce/mushroom sauce

Health benefits of eating sirloin steak

Steak can be a healthy nutritional addition to your diet when eaten in moderation. Replacing processed meat with steak is a positive step towards improving your eating habits. Sirloin steak is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, but is carbohydrate free. It can be made leaner by trimming the fat before eating and choosing a fat free method to cook it such as grilling or broiling.

Steak is a good source of high quality protein and provides all of the essential amino acids the body needs to promote muscle growth, repair tissue and digest food. Beef is a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, selenium iron and zinc which protects the immune system and reduces your risk of anaemia.

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