Perfecting steaks at home with Executive Chef Jake Nicolson | The Gourmand & Gourmet

Perfecting steaks at home with Executive Chef Jake Nicolson

Whether you’re team rump or sirloin, the executive chef of the Ghanem Group (Blackbird, Byblos, and Donna Chang) shares his expertise in how to take your at-home grill game to the next level.

With a resumé that includes world-renowned names like El Bulli, The Ledbury in London, and the International Food & Wine Festival, Jake Nicolson is a formidable force… and he’s got beef cred in spades.

As a member of the RNA’s beef judging panel, there are few more qualified to talk about choosing, cooking, and serving the perfect steak than Jake (especially considering Blackbird’s rep as a steak spot), and he was generous enough to share some of his knowledge with The G&G!

First up, Jake says it’s all about buying well. He recommends doing some research into the product’s background including where it was raised, what it was fed (he recommends grain-finished beef), and how it checks out in terms of intramuscular fat (which you may know as marbling). 

“For example,” he says, “at Blackbird we serve the 1000 Guineas Shorthorn breed, which is a really unique product and one of the oldest breeds in the world. It has a great soft texture and a rich, caramelised flavour. It’s something different from the grass-fed Angus and Wagyu that you see on most menus now.”

When it comes to the cooking, Jake insists that the most important thing is controlling temperature: “The first thing to do is bring the steak to room temperature before you cook it. For a nice medium-rare you need to ensure the inside warms through before the outside gets a dark, burned ring,” he says.

“Most people at home are probably doing steaks on the barbecue, so I’d recommend cooking on a medium steady heat rather than having it piping  hot.”

As for whether to flip a few times or just once? Jake’s in the party that likes to control temperature by flipping more than once.  To check your cook, he suggests using a metal probe (like a skewer) to gauge the internal temp; it should feel hotter than blood temperature when tested on your wrist. If you’re kitted-out with a meat thermometer, aim for an internal temp of around 55 degrees.

In terms of seasoning, Jake recommends a good-quality salt like Olsson’s or Maldon before cooking, and hitting the beef with a little extra before serving, too. Of course, resting should be part of the process, too (but you already knew that!). 

While all the steaks at Blackbird are served simply with house-made tarragon mustard and coleslaw, Jake says there’s “absolutely nothing wrong” with serving a great steak with chips and bearnaise sauce (and we simply have to agree!). 

For some, steaks have a reputation for being difficult to master, but with a great product, a little care, and your favourite accompaniments, steaking your claim as a great home cook has never been easier— especially thanks to Jake’s wisdom!


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Words by Georgia Condon
- the gourmand who is also Team More-than-one-flip.