When it comes to steak, there’s no shortage of opinions. Whether you’re a steak connoisseur or a person with a passing interest in the culinary arts, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a juicy steak cooked to perfection. But with so much conflicting information out there on the internet, it can be hard to tell what’s myth and what’s fact.
In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at steak, exploring the myths and facts surrounding this classic dish.
Myth 1. Don’t Salt Steak Before It’s Cooked
This is a long-standing culinary myth that has been passed down from generation to generation. Food scientist Kenji Lopez-Alt writes in The Food Lab about experimenting with different salting intervals before and after cooking. He found that salting steak is best done either at least 12 hours prior to cooking, or as close to cooking time as possible.
Adding salt to steak prior to cooking allows for the salt molecules to penetrate into the fibres of the steak, causing it to be more tender when cooked. And a longer salting time allows the salt to penetrate more deeply.
The process of salting also helps reduce moisture loss in meat, meaning that it will stay tastier over time. This can be especially beneficial with steaks, as its texture can become dry if overcooked or not seasoned properly.
The sodium in salt also acts as a flavour enhancer, helping bring out more of the flavours of the beef itself. And adding salt prior to cooking can also help caramelize and brown the outside of steak quickly, giving it a delicious crusty texture.
Myth 2. Only flip your steak once
Kenji Lopez-Alt did another experiment where he grilled identical steaks under the same conditions, and flipped them each a different number of times, from just one flip, to as many flips as possible. His taste testers couldn’t tell the difference between any of them.
So there’s really no need to leave your steaks untouched on the grill. If anything, flipping them more often helps to keep an eye on how evenly they are getting cooked on both sides.
Like a lot of the steak cooking wisdom that has been passed around, this myth has no basis in fact. Flip your steaks as much as you want.
Myth 3. Use the Poke Test to Tell When Your Steak is Done
The poke test, which involves pressing the steak with a finger or utensil, has been used for generations as an indicator of doneness. But this method is actually very unreliable compared to using an instant-read thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the steak.
A steak’s tenderness and juiciness are determined by its internal temperature — the hotter it gets, the more well done it will be. A thermometer can give you accurate readings within seconds, ensuring that your steak isn’t over- or under-cooked.
On the other hand, the poke test isn’t precise and can give inconsistent results. There are many factors — such as marbling or fat content — that can affect its feel.
On top of that, cooking a steak past medium can result in an overly dry and chewy texture. Especially with fully grassfed beef, it’s incredibly important not to overcook.
The only way to guarantee that your steak comes out perfectly cooked every time is by using an accurate instant-read thermometer. The thermometer will tell you what temperature your steak should reach (usually between 135°F and 145°F) depending on how you like it prepared.
Myth 4. Serve Your Steak immediately after It’s Cooked
Resting your steak after it is cooked helps to allow the juices and flavours from the meat to be re-absorbed, resulting in a more tender and juicy steak. You want those juices inside the steak, not running out over your plate.
By allowing your steak to rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking, you’ll not only get a better tasting steak, but also allow the internal temperature of the steak to even out as well. This will ensure that the steak is cooked evenly all the way through without overcooking or undercooking any parts of it.
And resting your steak will give you time to focus on other aspects of your meal while the steak reaches its optimal temperature and texture.
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