Creating the perfect steak at The Wild Boar in Windermere
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 October 2014
Few can resist a good steak and that's just what you'll find at the Wild Boar, writes Roger Borrell
The message from the health experts is, for this week at least, that eating meat is OK, but they’ll knit their brows and follow that up by using the phrase ‘in moderation.’
Well, I’m sorry, but when it comes to steaks, ‘in moderation’ doesn’t come into the equation. Big, juicy, thick maybe. Moderation? Nope.
So who do you go to when you want to talk steak? You could do no better than Marc Sanders, head chef at the Wild Boar, a former Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards winner.
In recent years, this grand old hotel, just outside Windermere, has made its name not just with the quality of meat it serves but the way it prepares and cooks it. Between 70 and 80 per cent of restaurant orders are for steaks.
And, like all chefs, Marc has added a twist. With the help of Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins from Smoky Jo’s in Kendal, the Wild Boar has installed its very own smokehouse and among the items emerging from it are smoked steaks.
‘When we got the smokehouse we decided to play around with it,’ says Marc. ‘In the US they will sometimes put a lid on the barbecue and that smokes the steak. We work in a similar way – it gives the meat a slightly smoky flavour and it has proved very popular with customers.’
The beef they use comes from a herd of Herefordshires. ‘It’s our equivalent of Aberdeen Angus in Scotland. It’s very tender, hung for a minimum of 21 days and there’s very little shrinkage when you cook it.’
So what is Marc’s favourite cut. ‘It has to be ribeye. The fat in the middle is what gives it so much flavour. It’s the one to choose for taste. You don’t want too much fat but look out for marbling in steaks. That indicates fat and that will give flavour.’
Marc says you should cook it medium rare and take it out of the fridge for a few hours prior to cooking so it reached room temperature.
‘We always season it before it goes onto the grill as the salt draws the moisture. We put a mixture of olive oil, Maldon salt, cracked black pepper and garlic on the meat and we turn it every three minutes. For a ten ounce steak, we’d turn it four times so around 12 minutes of cooking time to get a little crispness on the outside.’
Don’t tuck in yet - be patient. ‘You must let the meat rest for three or four minutes. We put it on a cooling rack because if you put it on a plate or a dish and it sits in the juices they will start stewing the steak. That will make it tough.’
Marc has been at the Wild Boar for more than two decades. ‘It’s very different from when I first came – it was all morning suits and silver service.
‘Things have changes dramatically in the last five years. People have become far more knowledgeable about food and most customers want it to be served in more relaxed, informal surroundings.’
Marc’s career has come full circle. He started as an apprentice at the Lodore in Keswick, spent five years in Switzerland and a year in London before running a restaurant in Portugal with British tennis legend Roger Taylor. ‘I came back to work at the Langdale Chase Hotel in Windermere and then arrived at the Wild Boar,’ said Marc. ‘That was 26 years ago - I must like it!’