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Jul 22, 2008 12:42 PM

Any hope for tough rib eye steaks that I bought?

I feel like this is a stupid question from someone who has been cooking and baking (but not grilling) a long time, but here goes....

I guess I had just gotten lucky buying steaks before, because it turned out I didn't really know what I was doing. I recently got some rib eye steaks that were not very marbled and, yup, they were tough. My husband and I soldiered through one of them on the grill, but I have three good sized ones left in the freezer.

Any suggestions for cooking these tough steaks so that they turn out tender? Some sort of slow cooking process perhaps, like for pot roast?

And, yes, I have since learned how to pick out great steaks EVERY time and we are much happier grillers now! :)

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  1. slice thinly and make it into a stir fry? marinate in soy sauce, sugar, wine, spices for 24 hrs or something that would break down the meat a little. i'm not sure how it would turn out as a pot roast b/c you say there's not a lot of fat on the meat which results in tender meat. also cooking for a long time cause the break down of meat but i think the fat reall y helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trolley

      Hmm, you're right. I forgot about the fact that a pot roast (or similar) would have a lot more fat in it. There is fat around the edges, but not much in the middle.

      I suspect it will have to be sliced thinly as you said. I like the marinade too.

      1. re: The_Whistler

        Wow! Really enjoyed reading that (ok, I'm a science geek - I love Alton Brown and CI too). Thanks so much for posting it.

        I think what I'm going to try (so far) is one of each suggestion and maybe a third if another good idea comes along (since I have three steaks left), and see what works best.

        I like experimenting! :)

        1. re: The_Whistler

          That's a terrifically interesting method. It's actually pretty similar to the way you "kosher" meat - by salting and draining. Koshering is meant to draw out any remaining blood from meat, so the meat would be heavily salted and placed on a slanted board to drain. My mother used to do this when I was a kid. I'm sure she did it as much with beef as with poultry, so the method described is very close. It does leave some residual salt in the meat, which is part of what people say they taste in kosher chicken, for example. But kosher steak doesn't have such a great reputation (well, maybe it's because there's a very strong inclination toward well-done among old style kosher eaters which could turn a tenderloin into shoe leather). I'm interested in this - I'll try it.

          1. re: The_Whistler

            I tried this method with some sirloins the other day. Did it as scientifically precisely as possible: two identical pieces (from the same package, and I think they were cut from the same piece, in adjacent slices, based on appearance). Salted the heck out of one of them, minimally salted the other one, as I normally do. Rinsed off the salt after 40 minutes, added pepper, and grilled them both side by side on the same grill.

            There were some interesting differences. The salted one had a different look - less brown, more gray, less apparent juice on the surface. It seemed like there was less flareup under the salted one; I even switched sides, in case one side of the grill was hotter than the other, but it still seemed that the unsalted one flared up more. Took them both off on the rare side of medium-rare, and let them rest 10 minutes.

            But as to tenderness, which was the point of all this? I couldn't tell any difference. But the salted one was much saltier; maybe I let it stay on too long? I don't know, but it was really salty, really on the verge of being too salty to eat. And still not noticeably more tender than the other one.

            Maybe it doesn't work on sirloins? I don't know, but I doubt I'll be trying it again.

            1. re: Bat Guano

              Did you use kosher salt (about half the saltiness of regular salt)? The article specified kosher salt, but that tidbit was hidden near the bottom of the description. I used kosher and the steak did not taste too salty to me. Wonder if that was the difference? But, I agree that the tenderness change was minimal (see my comments regarding the outcome of my experiment with the salt method below - about another 1/3 down the page).

              1. re: Scirocco

                I found the salinity difference between mass market and Kosher salt this week making pickles from Bittman's book. cut regular by at LEAST about half (ok maybe use 2/3) you can always add more later.

                1. re: hill food

                  Diamond Crystal (which what is usually assumed unless otherwise stated) kosher salt is half as saline per volume as table salt.

                  Morton's is 2/3 as saline per volume as table salt.

                  Thus, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of table salt, use 2T of Diamond Crystal kosher or 1.5T of Morton's kosher.

                2. re: Scirocco

                  No, I used sea salt. That may be a factor.

            2. I've had the same thing happen. I bought some ribeyes that were irresistibly cheap. Turned out to be unchewably tough. Lesson learned. But in the meantime, I think a stir-fry is your best bet. Another possibility would be to cube the meat, marinate Greekishly and do skewers - cooked rare. An acidic marinade could help tenderize. If you have enough, you could cube and use for Beef Bourgiuignon - long and slow with red wine. The flavour should be there because ribeye is a flavourful cut.

              1. Filet, pound and tenderize, dredge in flour and batter, and make chicken fried steak?

                1. I say ~24 hours in a marinade that involves both citrus juice and vinegar...that'll soften up anything!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: joshlane4

                    Acids really don't soften things up other than making an outer layer a bit soggy. Alkali soften things up (that's how the Chinese "velvetize" tought cuts of meat). But acids do help flavor things.