The secret to cooking the perf

The secret to cooking the perfect steak on the braai

Mat Hartley has been braaiing every day for nearly 365 days as a challenge to raise funds and awareness for rhino conservation. So he knows a thing or two about cooking meat! Here’s his recipe for the perfect steak on the barbecue.

The secret to cooking the perf

steak braaiIn my Braai 365 challenge, I’ve probably had steak about half of the time, and after a few tests of different methods this is the best way to cook steak. Obviously everyone has their own method – this is mine!

Buying steak (UK)

My first part of braaiing the perfect steak starts at the butcher. I always go to a reputable butcher and ask a few questions before buying it. They may lie the first few times – never go back! But the following things are NB for me.

Firstly, has the meat been produced organically? ie has the cow been in the field, grazing and having an awesome life? Corn fed cow is a big no for me.

Secondly, how long has it been matured? Anything over 21 days is good, but 28 days is great!

How thick? 3cm works best for me, but nothing under 2.5

Which meat? This is a personal preference for everyone, but sirloin, rump and rib eye are my favorites.

How much? This varies for butchers and country but if the above questions are answered then expect to pay upwards of £20 a kg.


15 minutes before, throw some coarse sea salt and a bit of pepper on. This is simply for a bit of flavour. But it’s up to you. Why no marinade? What the hell are you buying expensive meat for? If you want to marinade your steak, buy cheap steak and marinade it for a few days.

Braai Time

Make sure the coals have turned white and you have an extremely high heat (you can just hold your hand over the grill for three seconds)

Throw the steak on and here’s my trick for a medium rare to medium steak. A lot of people don’t like it medium rare, but again what is the point of spending the money on a good steak, go and buy some crap steak rather if you are going to overcook it.

Whatever thickness your steak is, double the number and cook on each side for that many minutes.

2.5cm = 5 minutes each side
3cm = 6 minutes each side

steak braai 2Once cooked on both sides (just one turn), get some tin foil (shiny side in) ready and place the steak directly onto it, and wrap it up. This will act as an oven for all the juices to settle and it will also carry on cooking.

For medium rare leave it to rest for the same time you cooked each side (3cm = 6 minutes in foil)
For medium (3cm = 12 minutes…although only did medium once)

Take it out and cut into a beautiful steak!