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Definitave Last Word on Steaks....salt or no?

I have a couple rib eyes for this weekend. I was planning on salting them and leaving them uncovered in the fridge from Friday night until I grill them on Saturday night. Is that still the conventional wisdom? I know there are many threads/cans of worms on this topic but I am looking for the bottom line. Is there one?

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  1. The last word is that there are several schools of thought on this, and it's pretty much a matter of preference.

    1. I hope you'll salt one and not the other and let us know what happens!

      1. Im in the no camp when it comes to salting the day before for steaks. I find I get best results by liberally seasoning steaks right before cooking them. YMMV

        I am also not a fan of leaving portioned steaks out uncovered in the fridge. Primals are ok because you are going to trim off most of the part thats going to get a bit leathery, but portioned proteins uncovered overnight is not something I like to do (except duck breasts and thats because its the skin that is in contact with the air)

        1. I season and place in a bag I can seal. The seasonings I use tend to have some salt in them. I don't think I would leave the food uncovered and I tend to season them in the morning if I can.

          1. You need to look towards Alton Brown or ATK/Cooks Illustrated for the real answer.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sandylc

              Alton Brown is an excellent teacher. I like knowing why a technique or recipe works. I am looking forward to his next new show.

              His steak technique that I like: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

              1. re: justicenow

                yep, alton explains why you want to do it for a while, but not too long.

                here is a video, but he doesnt explain here either:
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiQ0VO...

                its been driving my mom crazy. she was raised in a no salting house, but she really likes alton brown. she just can't bring herself to salt an expensive piece of meat before she cooks it.

            2. I read that salting too soon will make the meat mushy (same reason you don't want salt in your ground chuck for burgers).

              To enhance the flavour of the meat, salt the outside of the steak liberally just before throwing it on the grill, and salt the ungrilled side before flipping.

              That said, I've never noticed a difference. You can salt chicken in brine to make it tender, and it's not mushy. Brine a steak?

              1. I don't have access to CI but it seems that most think salting right before is the way to go. I was thinking it was something similiar to a dry brine by doing it the night before. And also that the salt draws moisture out but then puts it back in. ????

                1. In my experience, salting well in advance as you plan to do leads to the best (read: juiciest) results, especially if you cook beyond medium rare. I believe that what early salting does is its alters the meat's cell membranes to keep liquid from being squeezed out of the cells as the meat cooks and its fibers contract. At medium rare and below, this contraction perhaps isn't big enough of a factor for the early salting to make much of a difference, though that also depends on how evenly the steak is cooked.

                  Also in my experience, the difference in effect between salting well in advance, salting just before cooking, and salting after cooking has often been overstated. When I've tried cutting up a steak, salting one part hours in advance, one part just before cooking, and one part after cooking (all pan roasted, BTW), the difference was subtle, and might have been missed entirely if I hadn't been looking for one. In any case, the quality of the steak as well as how you cook it makes a much bigger difference to the juiciness and texture.