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Steak myths (or not?) from Serious Eats

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  1. Okay, this is cool...I need to weigh in on a couple of zee myths.

    First, I was brought up in the "steaks with bones have more flavor" camp, I confess.

    Secondly, I've seen the "poke your hand" test myth perpetuated by more than one chef on the Food Network/Cooking Channel. Before Roger Mooking did his hot foods thing with Aaron Sanchez and the latest cooking w/ fire thing, he had his own cooking show and would constantly refer to the poke test.

    18 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      It doesn't mention the resting after cooking advice. I still prefer to bring meats to room temp and I always want a bone in, especially for the reason mentioned.

      I've never bought into the hand poke thing as determinant, either. Just dumb.

      1. re: mcf

        "I've never bought into the hand poke thing as determinant, either. Just dumb."

        what method do you use?

        My FIL likes "dry as a bone" as a starting point for doneness. after it looks like it's so dry it could choke someone, he cuts into it and then leaves it in the grill a little longer "just to be sure". Resting is done uncovered in a pile and is called "letting it cool down" or as I call it "cold steak". to each their own.

              1. re: Gastronomos

                Does he make you eat *his* overdone steak, or are you free to have your steak the way you like it?

                Because if so.... why do you care how your FIL likes his steak?

                1. re: linguafood

                  if we are invited over for a BBQ, he's grilling and all the meat comes out his way. it would be rude to refuse, no?

                  1. re: Gastronomos

                    Would it be rude to ask if he could take your steak off sooner? I mean, that's just communication 101.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      been there, done that.
                      *tzurriz* posts here"
                      "This is why my husband always insists on grilling our steaks when we visit his folks. My FIL thinks "rare" takes 30 minutes over direct flame. :( "

                      I tried that too. no dice.

            1. re: Gastronomos

              This is why my husband always insists on grilling our steaks when we visit his folks. My FIL thinks "rare" takes 30 minutes over direct flame. :(

            2. re: mcf

              Depends whose hand you're poking, I guess. Grandma's bony claw, or Uncle Ralph's meaty mit. Either way, what does it have to do with grilling a steak? I never got it.

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                That's hilarious, flavrmeister, it's always been in the back of my mind.

              2. re: mcf

                I always let meat sit out for an hour before cooking too. Kenji’s previous advice was to take a steak out of the refrigerator 40 minutes in advance of cooking, and someone posted a comment asking him whether he no longer recommends this step. His reply, “Yep, new shit has come to light. No longer a necessity!”

                He does acknowledge a 10 minute rest after cooking in response to a poster’s comment, so that remains the same.

              3. re: pinehurst

                The hand poke has always puzzled me. Maybe I have a mutant hand, but it just feels the same however I hold my hand. Anyway, I just touch the meat with my tongs. Couple of years of cooking has taught me what various temperatures feel like.

                1. re: pinehurst

                  I don't know that bones add flavor but they definitely protect what is typically the lean side of a steak from drying out during the cooking process.

                  1. re: Tom34

                    But that's not the "myth." I never thought about it before but it makes total sense to me..

                  1. Touch the steak "myth".

                    Kenji barely alludes to what I suspect is the most significant issue; how often do you do this and how consistent are the steaks that you are cooking? Someone who spends several nights a week wrangling dozens and dozens of carefully procured steaks over the same grill is not the same as Sam Suburban who fires up the Weber once a week to cook whatever looked good at the grocery store on the way home.

                    FWIW, in making a sort of hobby of watching competent people working large grills for a crowd, I've never seen a Thermopen or any of its relatives used. I suppose roasts and the like are monitored with thermocouples, but so far, I've yet to see one used in a restaurant for steaks. 'Anyone seen one used?

                    62 Replies
                    1. re: akachochin

                      I spent years in front of restaurant broilers. Always used the touch method to determine temps. I had no idea it didn't work until now. There were no thermo pens back then and while we had meat thermometers, we never pierced steaks with them. Plus that would have taken too long.

                      1. re: chileheadmike

                        That is the one "myth" in the article that has no "Food Lab" discussion in it, and is more just about the author saying whatever he thinks makes sense. His points aren't actually that convincing -- more along the lines of "it seems random to me, so it must also be random to an experienced chef."

                        1. re: calumin

                          I think the point is that the "touch method" requires a LOT of experience and can't be used reliably as a doneness measure for inexperienced cooks. The cut of the steak and thickness makes a big difference in how it feels.

                          I can get steaks right by touch ~90 percent of the time but it's easy to screw up if the steak is extra thick or thin.

                        2. re: chileheadmike

                          I think it makes clear that it works for someone like you, but not the rest of us without such high volume experience.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Yes. I thought he made it perfectly clear that if you're cooking multiple steaks every night then you can do that.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              So I misread. Oops, not the first time.

                            2. re: mcf

                              Have to disagree with you on the press test. I know how it is explained using the hand and I guess that is a good way to get the basic point across but there is far more to it than that.

                              There is a KNOWLEDGE factor of which a few key elements are cut of meat & thickness which the author alluded to. Most avid steak lovers can easily distinguish the most common steak cuts by chew alone. With practice, the same is true for the resistance to pressure with the press test.

                              There is the EXPERIENCE factor of the more you do something generally the better you get at it. I am not & have never been a professional chef but every time I grill meat I constantly press on the product throughout the cooking process.

                              I have gotten to the point where I am very accurate using the press test for beef steaks, pork chops & even hamburgers.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                I'm guessing you cooks steak a lot more than many/most of us. For me, it's probably once a month. And the cut/thickness could be anything. So muscle memory isn't going to work. I'm not going to be able to remember how that the 2" thick, bone-in ribeye felt six months ago. Unless one can, why run even a small chance of botching it up when it's not necessary. I've mentioned on other threads that we do house exchanges and what kitchen tools I take. My thermometer is always at the top of the list.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I only have 2 meat thermometers. One is a 1970's w/a big dial & thick probe for roasts. The other one is from the 1990's, has a small 1 inch dial and a much thinner probe and it is faster than the ancient one but still not fast.

                                  If Thermalpen's claims are true about being extremely rugged & giving an accurate temp within 3 seconds the $100.00 or so sounds like a very good investment. I know my wife could use one and I would use it for chicken where a couple degrees either way is a big safety concern.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    I don't have a thermapen. Mine cost about $15 and does the trick for me.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    Kind of like free hand knife sharpening on a stone. There is a "Feel" that changes with different grit stones and different metal hardness. Practice, practice & more practice. BTW, I never got that feel and got an Edgepro sharpener so I fully understand folks getting the Thermalpens :-)

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      And, as I posted above, if I cook a particular cut and thickness of steak a couple of times a year, then no amount of knowledge, IMO, is going to offset the lack of experience...with that particular cut and thickness.

                                      And we're VERY picky about the degree of doneness we're willing to accept. If it's overcooked a little we complain. If it's overcooked a lot we save it for the dogs and have the vegetarian plate that night. So, yeah, if you're willing to accept subpar even occasionally, then go for it. We're really not.

                                    2. re: Tom34

                                      So, what are you disagreeing with? I said the same thing; do it a lot and you develop the skill.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Some people develop certain skills faster than others. I am not a chef nor a high volume griller. I just started doing it from raw to finished product every time I handle a piece of meat and got good at it.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          Not typical, though, wouldn't you agree?

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            It is my experience that I can show someone how to a million times over and they just don't get it. (or don't want to get it)

                                            Some, though, claim they can "teach a rhesus monkey" to broil a steak. I take that as "to the requested temperature". I guess it is up to the instructor/teacher and the student.
                                            And a broilerman in a restaurant should NEVER cut a steak or chop that is served whole (not sliced a la Peter Luger).

                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                              Degree of interest in the subject to be learned, paying attention to instruction, concentration while practicing & confidence play huge roles in just about all learning.

                                              My favorite meal is steak. I took great interest in learning about cut, quality, aging & cooking it. Most friends say my end product is as good or better than most steakhouses. There are many other meals I cook often but my heart is not in it to the same degree and the end product reflects that.

                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                I cook mighty fine steak, too. Using a $20 instant read thermometer, timing and a good rest at the end.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  I don't dismiss what seriouseats says but really don't much care about everything they put in print either. I cook thick steaks and take them out of the frig about 90 minutes before cooking and cover them loosely with plastic wrap & rest 10 minutes after cooking. It works for me & looks like it works for you too.

                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                    Yep, except for the part about plastic wrap. I don't even have it in my house any more. :-)

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      what do you use in place of plastic wrap? why do you no longer use plastic wrap?

                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                        I use either foil, or an upside down plate. I am avoiding plastic food storage and contact wherever I can, and scrupulously avoiding warm plastic contact with our food. Chemicals leaching, don't want it.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          thanks. I get the avoiding of food touching and the warm food-plastic combo. I've seen restaurants on TV that cover the roasts in plastic and then foil and then bake. When they open up the foil after baking, the plastic is gone. I always wondered why we ate melted plastic wrap in restaurants :-/

                                                          Al foil has it's down side as well according to some studies.

                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                            If you're talking about Alzheimer's, no. That connection was debunked long ago.

                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                        Agreed. I use aluminum foil. Don't want that plasticky flavor on my steak, plus you can tent aluminum foil where the plastic wrap would glom onto the meat and be not what I wanted.

                                                  2. re: Tom34

                                                    "Degree of interest in the subject to be learned..."

                                                    I agree. Maybe that's why I show some people who *say* they want to learn and when I do... no can do.

                                                    I love sauces. Just as you love steak. I have perfected sauce making. All kinds. Every kind. pasta sauces, gravy, you name it. My heart is into making sauces. I make sure my steak, chops, burgers, chicken, etc. is grilled/BBQ'd to my liking so I can more fully enjoy the sauce I put so much love into making. Grilling a steak, for me, is great, so I can enjoy the sauce. I am not a steak lover, so it HAS to be perfect or I'm ordering a pizza, with extra sauce.

                                                2. re: mcf

                                                  I can only say what works for me. If this thread were a poll it would appear more find it difficult than not. I don't think that makes it "dumb" or useless though.

                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                    I don't think it's dumb or useless, either, any more than I think it's dumb not to bother learning it. As long as we're getting good steak from whatever method we employ.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      I agree 100%, what ever works for the individual. I never gave the thermometers much thought for anything but roasts but this thread has thinking about them.

                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                        I only just started using them for burgers, beef and pork. We weren't ever getting them particularly overdone but sometimes they could have a used just a touch more. And I've been seeing cassarole-type recipes giving an internal temp reading.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I am lucky because if I error a tad bit on the rare side everyone in my house is ok.....I wonder why there is such a price spread between the Thermapen / Thermometer and the $20.00 ones. I have always been willing to spend $$ on good well made high performance products that last so I will have to research it a little.

                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                            You mean with steaks AND burgers? Bob and I are fine with super rare burgers, guests maybe not so much so. I know, get new friends. That's cool. But if I get rid of the daughters then they'll likely take the grandbabies with 'em. NOT GOOD :)

                                                            I've had my $20 one for some years now and occasionally have to replace the battery.

                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                              I researched it a bunch, and found that mine gives me enough info in 8 seconds and I don't need to spend a lot more to cut that down to 3. I'd still have the $15 one if I hadn't accidentally dropped it and had trouble fishing it out of a very hot oven. Replaced the battery once, maybe twice, over the years.

                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                The price point difference is because the Thermapen is more accurate, registers the temperature more quickly, and has a smaller probe so the piercing hole is virtually unnoticeable. I love mine. Use it all the time. Turkey, steaks, pork chops, the temperature of the oil when I need to know. Have bought it for friends as gifts. Love it. Can you tell?

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  Joan, how high will it go when checking oil please? I got one of the infrared ones for that and it failed early on.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    No idea. Never tested it past 375F-380F. Never had an infrared, but my understanding is that it detects surface rather than internal temperature. No idea whether that is correct or not.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      Thanks. I had no idea it went that high. And, yes, I also had a problem with a surface reading.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        Was curious, so I just looked it up. Web site says range for the Thermapen is -58.0 to 572.0°F.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          "Web site says range for the Thermapen is -58.0 to 572.0°F."

                                                                          Have you ever cooked a steak to 572.0 degrees? I assume it involved a fire extinguisher?

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            I assume you're just being funny here, but as noted above I use the Thermapen not just for checking the temperature of food, but for checking the temperature of oil and have therefore never personally tested it beyond 375 or 380F.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Takin' oil to 572 is gonna require a fire truck, not just an extinguisher. But, I'm with mcf, I don't see the expense as worth it. Especially, since sooner or later somebody's gonna break it.

                                                                              I use experience or a chopstick to tell when oil's hot enough. I'm good at the finger test. I prefer jazz to classical.

                                                                              Then again, I also drive an eleven year old GMC truck, with manual windows and locks, so . . . .

                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                    Joan,

                                                                    Strangely enough I just asked a friend this morning who I turned on to the Big Green Egg last year if he heard of the Thermapen. He said, " yup, bought one a month ago after reading sterling reviews on the Green Egg Forum and love it."

                                                                    Mine should arrive in the mail by Friday :-)

                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                      I'll be surprised if you don't become a convert as quickly as I.

                                                                      Now, in my next life, I want a NYC apartment somehow compatible with a Big Green Egg. I think it might be illegal, but I can still dream.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        I know for anything my wife cooks it will come in handy & I will use it for things like chicken where I am extremely cautious.

                                                                        I know there are some strict regulations in NYC but on the other hand NYC is one of the culinary / entertainment capitals of the world. Old friends who lived in Manhattan for years eventually moved to long Island. Best of both worlds, space to breathe but a short trains ride from culinary / entertainment utopia.

                                                                  3. re: Tom34

                                                                    Get a thermapen if you appreciate high quality tools, kitchen or garage or garden. I like knowing my thermometer is "Correct". I use my Thermapen to calibrate my other thermometers and to verify thermostats on deep fryers or whatever.

                                                                    1. re: DWB

                                                                      I would tend to lean that way. All my tools have been high quality and given me years of good service.

                                                                      A Thermapen would be great for my wife and I could use it for my fresh ground chicken burgers as there is such a fine line between just cooked enough & overcooked with them.

                                                          2. re: mcf

                                                            Would not agree.
                                                            This isn't rocket science.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              Sorry, but I have no idea what point you're disagreeing with.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                I'm having a hard time tracking on that one also.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  If you click on the "RE:mcf" button on the top right corner of the post, it'll take you to the post monavano is responding to.

                                                                  In this case, the post was about whether a layperson could quickly and easily learn to tell the doneness of steak by feel. This one:
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9054...

                                                          3. re: Tom34

                                                            How is this hard to get?
                                                            We've got skills.

                                                    2. re: chileheadmike

                                                      "How can you tell if a steak is done" is a question like "how do you tell if it's raining". Observation, mostly. Tell me how you want it; that's how you'll get it.

                                                      1. re: chileheadmike

                                                        There are fingers and then there are experienced fingers. If you are doing it all day long you get good at it

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Need I add ...and most of us don't have them.

                                                          2. re: scubadoo97

                                                            Whoever it was that told me about the finger thing gave me three points of touch reference: middle of cheek = rare; jaw end of cheek = medium; tip of nose = well done. That takes care of it for those who grill a maximum of one steak per month. The only problem is that it does NOT work on every sort of steak, much less other meats. However, taking note of another myth Kenji busts, you can poke a thermometer right on in there and all the juices will NOT run out.

                                                      2. I think the writer said it best. "There are so many uncontrolled variables in this assay that it boggles the mind."

                                                        1. The hand test works if you are showing someone in person and you know how firm to make your fist. It's not very useful when someone is explaining it on TV, or online or in a book though obviously.

                                                          With regards to the flip only once thing, it's definitely more of an aesthetic thing for me. I don't want to see grill marks zig zagging all over the place, and I prefer there to be some variance in the doneness of the meat.

                                                          1. The hand-touch method is a starting point. It gives you a place to start to gage your doneness. It takes practice and when you're just cooking at home, what's to lose?
                                                            I've overcooked steaks and you know what? I still eat it. Well, to be fair, probably more my dogs eat it! But, over time, I've gotten better at it and I use the touch test as well as time to get my steaks med. rare.
                                                            I use a thermapen for rib roasts in the oven, but never with steaks on the stove top or grill.

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              Why not use a thermometer for steaks? I've started using it for burgers.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                Probably a bad idea to pierce a beautiful piece of meat and let all the juices run out.

                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                  I'll take losing 1 ml of juice to guarantee the steaks are cooked to the appropriate doneness.

                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                    If even a ml. "...all the juices run out." ??? And it's not like cutting into it with a knife. The probe pretty much 'self-seals.' monavano admits to overcooking steaks using that method. We've never overcooked any meat when using the internal temp as our guide/god. And the only way time comes into the equation is when we've done one particular cut/size of meat enough times that we have a range. Check on the low end of the range. Easy peasy.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Been a while since I overcooked, and DH and I just go with the flow. Eh, not great, but it's a flank steak from Costo. A piece of prime? Oh no! The thermometer is coming out!

                                                                  2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                    But according the Kenji, piercing the meat doesn't let all the juices out. That's one of the myths. I agree with his thermometer suggestion. Unless a person is standing at the grill 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and testing a dozen different cuts of meat on a regular basis, it's likely that mistakes will be made using the touch method.

                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                      They don't run out. It's not a water balloon.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      Don't need to. Most of the time, I'm spot on. Not to brag!! I don't have anything against my thermapen. Love the thing!

                                                                  3. Well, it doesn't mention another sign used by experienced cooks (but its usefulness depends on the thickness of the steak - it doesn't work as well at the extremes) - when you start to see juice on the top of the uncooked side, it's a sign to test. (This can also work well for hamburgers, as well as pork/lamb steaks and chops.)

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                      Sign to test or time to flip?

                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                        Well, often the time to flip, but at times I do the touch test if the thickness is not "normal".

                                                                      2. re: Karl S

                                                                        With steak???? Nope. I sear both sides with time as a guide. Only use juices on the surface to time a burger flip.

                                                                      3. What are thoughts on the salting of steaks? Since I read the Food Lab article on salting at least 40 minutes ahead of time I always do this. I have been wanting to do the several hour to overnight salting, leaving uncovered in the fridge but didn't know if it'd have any effect or just be really salty.

                                                                        42 Replies
                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                          It's not really salty. Unless you use some absurd amount, I guess, but mine has never been really salty, just seasoned.

                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                            Do you leave it overnight? I guess I'm always confused as to what liberally means. Starry sky or salt on the sidewalk?

                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              I leave it about 2-3 days; I think we discussed this in another thread?

                                                                              This rub from this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/an...

                                                                              But I don't use plastic wrap and I leave it in a couple of days.

                                                                              If you're very nervous, you could wrap it for one and let it air dry for one.

                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                Sorry, forgive my ever-worsening memory.

                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                  I guarantee, this is probably the first time in a week I've remembered anything!

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    Sometimes forgetting is a good thing.......so is not giving a sh*t when you do remember :-)

                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                  I have a lovely 2 lb bone in ribeye on the docket for dinner tomorrow so i think I'll try out this technique with a 24 hour salt uncovered. I want to try this method and will just "risk" it. I am looking forward to it, thanks for your tips.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    I hope you enjoy it! Don't do what I did the other night; forgot to use a lower, slower grill temp for a gras fed ribeye. It wasn't ruined but it wasn't as buttery tender as it usually is, either.

                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                      Wow, I have to say that was the best ribeye I have had in a long time. I actually had stopped eating them for a while because they had become big pieces of meat that sort of just tasted like beef and had been eating more flat iron and hanger steaks, but with this method I think I'm back to my old favorite. I only salted for 20 hours or so, but I think longer would definitely be even better. It was very interesting to watch the color and surface of the steak change.

                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                        Yeah, and the flavor concentration is wonderful, right? RIGHT??? ;-)

                                                                                        It gets so wet on the surface at first, then dries right up. I flip it over on the rack for the second day or half of the time.

                                                                                        Glad you liked it. I've also done a day wrapped, and a day or two unwrapped afterward.

                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                          Yea, when I salt for 2 hours before cooking it never seems to dry up and the surface is still quite moist. I flipped probably 3 times periodically throughout the day.

                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                            I couldn't resist. I've had a NY strip in the freezer for 2 weeks which I've been avoiding because for some reason I remember thinking they a tough chew, odd I know. I thought I'd try to clean out the freezer and give this guy the salt treatment to see what I think.

                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                              I never get all the love folks have for NY strip. Doesn't do it for me, either. Ribeye, ribeye, ribeye! :-)

                                                                                              Don't forget to report results.

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                I don't get strip either.
                                                                                                btw... we've been enjoying Costco's Prime sirloin. Incredible taste and not all that $$.

                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                  I actually love sirloin and never find it tough, well it has chew too it but nothing I mind. With the Strip, however, there's something that doesn't appeal but I can't really put my finger on it.

                                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                                  It's not my favorite by far but better to try it again then waste it I guess.

                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                    If you already have it, definitely! I don't like the texture, and I don't like the flavor or lack of it as compared to ribeye. I can enjoy a good sirloin, though if going lean, I prefer flank.

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                      OK, not just me. Even when insanely marbled, it doesn't beat a ribeye in my book though it's such a steakhouse favorite.

                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        Not just you. Never understood the strip fascination. It's one of my least favorite cuts. I never buy it.

                                                                                                  2. re: mcf

                                                                                                    I found years ago that Supermarket select & low choice grade strips, which often hit the meat cases too soon after slaughter, lack flavor and are chewy. I found the same true for low quality rib steaks where the eye was not only chewy but downright tough. Grade & age are as important as cut to me and I would much prefer a high quality strip over a low quality rib. Given the same quality I would like a fair balance of both.

                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                      You must know by now that I don't buy supermarket or low grade beef, right? :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        I know but many people do either by choice or necessity and some cuts like filet are still tender in the lower grades but other cuts like strips are usually not. I have served high quality dry aged strips cooked M/R to people who were not crazy about strips and they raved about them.

                                                                                                        I love a good rib steak but they don't always like me. When I crave that extra fatty rich flavor of a rib I often smoke beef ribs in the BGE and limit 2 ribs per meal and even then have a good bit of bread with it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                          I usually buy choice ribeye which is great, do you think it is OK for that cut and that the tenderness related to lower grade is somewhat particular for strip/

                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                            I think select & low choice grade fillets are still tender but very lacking in flavor. I have had mixed results with the same quality ribs where the cap meat & the meat running right along the bone is usually always juicy, tender & flavorful but the eye chewy and bland. My experience with strips of the same quality has been chewy & bland. Like the filet, I think strips need lots of marbling for flavor and definitely a min 3 weeks age to tenderize, neither of which I have found to be prevalent in select or low choice.

                                                                                                            IMHO, the extra 20% cost for the branded products like CAB, Sterling Silver & Chairman's Reserve that grade high choice or better is well worth it, especially when buying whole sub primals like I do as 15 lbs of sub par steaks makes for a lot of not so good meals.

                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                      dad always brought ribeye home for the grill or broiler. I cant bring my love for another, ribeye is my my one and only since I was very young...

                                                                                                    3. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                      Hmm, I guess SO didn't get the memo about updating the freezer stock list. My tentative chewy strip steak apparently has already been consumed by a hungry man some weeks ago. I guess I know have free reign to try out the salt technique on some other of beef I acquire tomorrow. Btw, just a question which I've probably already asked and forgot the answer to, how much salt do you find it most effective? I think last week I used 1/2 tsp per lb.

                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        I never measure, but I do salt pretty generously, with pinches of kosher salt. If you liked your results last time, go with that, I think.

                                                                                            2. re: mcf

                                                                                              mcf, thanks for all of the tips about the salting technique. I currently have a steak that's been in the fridge for 36 hours or so and the edges are now quite hard. Do you have to contend with hardened dried fat that should be trimmed or did I do something wrong?

                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                In my experience, it crisps up really well, due to absence of water content. Only time it got excessive char was when I forgot to lower the temp enough for cooking on indirect after searing. Really tasty fat, IME. Report back!

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  Wow! Again, a fantastic result. This time I salted a Hanger steak. I was somewhat afraid that it was too small to salt and leave uncovered for that long but it worked great. The seared crust on this steak was incredible.

                                                                                                  I think I'll be doing this most of the time for steak from here on out though should I worry with smaller cuts. For example, I imagine it'd really improve a sirloin but usually I have them cut 12 oz or so at 1/2-3/4 inch thick but I'd love to get these results.

                                                                                                   
                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                    I haven't yet done a thin steak uncovered, so can't say. Maybe wrapped a day, uncovered overnight or for day time only? Your steak looks amazing!

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                      Thanks, I'm loving this. The crust is often the best part of the steak and no matter what anyone says, to me the salting is definitely making a difference, placebo or not.

                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        Placebo???? Imagined flavor and enjoyment? :-) There is no placebo effect, the way folks use the term a meta study found, anyway.

                                                                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                                                                        It worked like a charm as usual! I salted a pretty thin sirloin 1/2 inch, maybe eeking towards 3/4, for 18 hours and it was great. I thought I'd report back in case anyone wanted to try it with thinner cuts. I probably wouldn't go longer though for something thin like that.

                                                                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                            I salt just a minute or two before I start cooking. How is the salt getting into the steak as it is defrosting? Its not! Its not a marinade people, its SALT.

                                                                                            1. re: nystreetguru

                                                                                              Not exactly. There are MANY dry marinades that have salt as the main ingredient. Check out the Zuni chicken for example.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Count me as a Zuni chicken fan, it's a favorite way to make roasted chicken in our house and it for sure produces a juicy bird with crispy delicious skin.

                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                  I know you know :) We walked you through that first one and a darn fine walk it's been, eh?

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    Indeed, I just thought I'd reiterate for anyone pondering the Zuni or the effect of salt on meat left uncovered in the fridge for a few days :) As the Monkees say, "I'm a believer."

                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                      Oh, I know. Like the rest of us, you became a believe quickly :)

                                                                                                      And to nystreetguru, salt IS a marinade.

                                                                                              2. re: nystreetguru

                                                                                                The meat is not frozen, it's thawed meat left in the fridge uncovered, thus it can penetrate the meat. I was under the impression that most marinades actually include a good bit of salt a it not only brings flavor but helps to loosen up the cell structure to allow other flavor components to penetrate, or what he said http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/ru....

                                                                                                If you refer to the article by Kenji there is a video which explains the salting in advance technique.

                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                  Ahh ok. I have always salted my steaks as they were in the fridge, but just tonight I made the best steak I ever have eaten, and salted it last minute.

                                                                                            2. I salt my steaks 8 to 24 hours in advance. I use my thermapen when I cook steaks that are 2" think.

                                                                                              1. I've always been irritated when someone presents someone else with scientific evidence and the second person responds with anecdotal evidence to refute the first person. For example, person A says that scientific tests have shown that wearing a seatbelt in a crash results in fewer and less severe injuries and person B replies, "Well, my uncle was in a car crash and he didn't wear a seatbelt and his passenger did and my uncle was fine, but the passenger suffered internal injuries from the seatbelt." Sheesh! That may be true, but it is one isolated instance.

                                                                                                However, in this case, I'm going to present anecdotal evidence to refute the scientific evidence from the article. I never used to let a steak warm up before I cooked it. Then, the Food Network chefs started recommending doing that and I followed their advice. I let my steaks rest an hour at room temperature before cooking. It has revolutionized my steak cooking. My steaks are so much more evenly cooked, with a nice, pink center and a nice, charred outside. For me, this advice about letting the steaks warm up before cooking has had a terrific benefit. I can't explain it, but I swear it is true.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                  I like my steaks straight out of the fridge and onto a blazing inferno. Charred Black outside, still cold inside.

                                                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                    You've got a steak that works for you, I've got one that works for me, sounds like we don't need serious eats.

                                                                                                2. Kenji is an absolute Kitchen Ninja Rock Star. That said, I don't always agree with his conclusions or methodology, but I wish I had half of his drive to actually perform the science!

                                                                                                  Instead, I blurt out my own theories on these here internets while trying to learn something, without sounding too stupid.

                                                                                                  1. I know the science suggests that piercing the meat does not lead it to bleed out but I still cringe when poking my thermapen into a steak to check it's temperature and see a trickle of juice run out of the hole

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        It's not as if there aren't juices left behind on the plate or cutting board, either, and you still get a very juicy mouthful of steak if you've cooked it right.

                                                                                                      2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                        I could not agree any more! I hate to lose even one drop of that precious delicious juice!! But I am still gonna use my Thermapen.

                                                                                                      3. Any opinions on the bone-in vs boneless issue?

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                          I'm in total agreement with this part of it: " I personally find the tiny bits of connective tissue-rich meat, fat, and gristle stuck to the bone to be the tastiest part of the steak (and if you don't want your bone, pass it on over, I'll gnaw on it)." I'll give you the meat from my steak if I can have the bone from yours.

                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                            I'll have my bone, but my mother will gladly give it away.

                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                              I have friends like your mom and I always try to steer them to the best steakhouse in town. I have no shame when it comes to asking to take home steak bones. Mine, or anyone else's.

                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                I never thought to doggie bag the bones, great idea!

                                                                                                        2. One of the best tips on the SE link is the Thermapen. It's pricey but so worth the money and if you follow the link directly here and recruit a few of your meat loving pals, you can save yourself a bit of your hard-earned green by buying a brown Thermapen:
                                                                                                          http://thermoworks.com/products/therm...

                                                                                                          1. I'm sure the longer salting, on a rack in the fridge yields even better results, but I often don't plan that far in advance what I'm eating. I have found that taking the steak out and salting, and letting rest on a rack on my counter while I get everything else ready -- about an hour -- is an improvement over straight from the fridge. A compromise for eating dinner at a reasonable hour, that is still tasty.

                                                                                                            1. The idea of poking a piece of meat and comparing it with your hand always seemed silly to me. Compare meat with meat. My first day cooking steaks in a restaurant another cook said, pointing to some steaks and touching them, "see, this one feels rare, this one feels medium rare, and this one feels medium. If it's well it will just feel very firm."

                                                                                                              Another observation is that a lot of this lore assumes, more or less, a common high end cut like a ribeye or a NY strip. It seems to me the cuts I use a lot like skirt, hanger, and flatiron, cook differently than rib eyes and strips. They seem to cook more slowly and are much less forgiving of anything beyond rare.

                                                                                                              1. I disagree with #1 vehemently as does many, many top chefs throughout the world and most people who try it. Take your steaks, chicken, pork, etc out 1 hour before you grill it. Besides look at how many CHers have tried this and sing it's praises. Just FYI Thomas Keller says this is probably the most important thing a home cook can do when cooking steaks.

                                                                                                                #2 I've heard this from home kitchen cooks not professionals, we sear to brown (flavor) the outside (maillard reaction). Incidentally when cooking in commercial slow-cookers the meat will brown at low temperatures over time so we don't sear then. Searing is done only when needed.

                                                                                                                #3 and #4 Call me silly but I have never heard of those before.

                                                                                                                #5 No comment, I either marinade before hand or I season after but I season right at service time to have that small crunch of salt flakes that I like. This is a personal preference.

                                                                                                                #6 You really don't want to pierce any meet item when you cook it. Some juices will escape and it simply doesn't look professional to serve a cut open or pierced piece of protein.

                                                                                                                #7 One of the restaurants I owned was a steakhouse that specialized in wood grilling of steaks. If you know what you are doing then the poke test works just fine. I can poke fish, chicken and meat and tell you within a very close degree of accuracy it's doneness. Just because the author doesn't have the skill to do it doesn't mean it's a myth. I know professional bakers that still mix dough without weighing the liquid, it's all done by feel and look, same thing cooking steaks.
                                                                                                                The real key to understanding the touch method is to know how each cut feels as it cooks, flank steaks at MR feel very differently than tenderloins are MR. Also a well marbled choice NY will feel differently than a select NY but these are all things that you can learn.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                    All he's saying with regard to #1 is that 1 hour is generally not enough to bring your steak to room temp, depending on thickness. I often take my meat out up to 2 hours early and salt it well (if it hasn't already dry-brined in the fridge).

                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                      I always bring my steak out of the fridge at least an hour prior to cooking and the surface temp definitely rises.

                                                                                                                      I am totally guessing and maybe Retired Chef can put some professional thought to it but I have found that one of the most common mistakes back yard cooks make is they overcook & dry out the outer 1/4 inch or so.

                                                                                                                      I know many things can cause this but I wonder if the muscle fiber reacts differently to extreme searing heat when its closer to room temp (vs) at or near freezing.

                                                                                                                      I would also think that heat can not reach the inside until the outside temp rises. The longer the outside takes to heat up in order to allow heat to pass to the inside, the more the outside would dry out.

                                                                                                                  2. My only gripe with this article is it should be titled "7 Old HUSBANDS' Tales About Cooking Steak" :^)

                                                                                                                    All of these myths have been spouted to me by dudes over the years (although my wife has been a proponent of the "bone adds flavour" theory).

                                                                                                                    1. I am not sure about this information. I cook a steak perfect to my tastes and most of my guests tastes everytime. I think if you can't cook a steak decently then you might want to consider trying some the changes the article mentions, but I doubt I'll change much of what I do. BTW the touch test is what I use, but have found it is sometimes unreliable.

                                                                                                                      1. The last couple of times I've grilled Steaks - I've warmed them up on indirect heat as the article suggests... Prior to searing the meat...

                                                                                                                        It works extremely well to dry out the meat a bit and bring it to a uniform temp. (I use wet marinade - mustard and worchestershire sauce).

                                                                                                                        I was skeptical of much of it... but I've changed my thinking.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                          IMO there is no better way to cook a steak. then how Heston does it. I've been cooking steaks the way he describes in the video and the results are wonderful.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-9NgO...