Business beat: Getting your grill on with Ray

Ray Cooper from Ray's Butcher Shop gives advice on pan frying a steak and cooking up a roast.

Ray Cooper inside his Garden Avenue shop that sells fresh product sourced primarily from British Columbia and Alberta.

Ray Cooper inside his Garden Avenue shop that sells fresh product sourced primarily from British Columbia and Alberta.

Ray’s Butcher Shop, owned and operated by Ray Cooper, celebrated its fourth anniversary this past summer. Cooper offers customers fresh cut meats and custom orders, carries B.C. raised poultry and pig products, and Alberta beef. He makes his own in store jerky and takes orders for free range, hormone free turkeys for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I asked him for advice on cooking up the best steak, even though barbecue is behind us.

Though summer is behind us, a perfect steak is available year round. Pan frying a steak is intimidating to many a regular cook (myself included) and my previous attempts have been less than stellar. Thanks to Cooper, that is about to change.

Cooper stresses that the first thing to remember is picking the right steak. “I recommend a strip-loin,” he says. “It has the right fat to lean meat ratio to handle the frying pan.”

Once the appropriate cut has been selected, Cooper recommends taking the steak from the fridge and letting it heat to room temperature. “A steak started cold is tougher when cooked,” he notes. If desired, pre-tenderize the steak by sprinkling the meat with kosher salt, which chemically tenderizes the steak, and then brush the salt off prior to cooking.

Next, heat the pan on medium heat until it starts to smoke. Add some butter. “Garlic butter makes it better,” laughs Cooper.

Once the butter has melted, toss your steak in, flipping sides every two minutes for four flips. “That’s two two-minute turns per side,” Cooper explains, “While it’s cooking, add some spices to make it even more delicious.” Cooper likes crushed garlic cloves, thyme or rosemary. As the steak is cooking, he recommends grabbing a spoon and basting it with the melted garlic butter, spices, and juices.

“Last, grab some prongs and stand the steak up on the fat band that runs along one side,” Cooper says. “Two minutes is about what you need to render the fat.”

Prior to eating, let the steak sit for half as long as it cooks.

If a roast is your preference, Cooper has a few tips. He suggests cooking it at a lower heat, 280-300 degrees for several hours rather than at high heat for a shorter period of time. “Generally speaking, the lower the heat and longer the cooking time, the more tender the roast will be,” he explains.

If you don’t already own an internal meat thermometer, you should get one. A thermometer is key to ensuring a perfect roast. Take your roast out of the oven about five degrees from the internal target temperature. “Let it sit for between five and fifteen minutes,” says Cooper. “The roast is self cooking now; the last five degrees will be gained after removing it from the heat.”

“If you have any questions about cooking any of the different meats or cuts, you’re always welcome to come and chat,” Cooper says. The store is well worth the visit as Cooper has so many helpful hints. Just ask about his rack of rib recipe.

Ray’s Butcher Shop is located on Garden Avenue, next to La Baguette.