Seven Old Myths About Cooking Steak That Should go Away
The smell of a steak on the grill is one of the most recognizable during the summer or anytime of the year. But there are some myths about cooking a steak that need to go away - forever. We have compiled the list of myths for the chief grill master of your house.
Myth #1: "You should let a thick steak rest at room temperature before you cook it."
The Theory. You want your meat to cook evenly from edge to center. Therefore, the closer it is to its final eating temperature, the more evenly it will cook. Letting it sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes will bring the steak up to room temperature—a good 20 to 25°F closer to your final serving temperature. The reality is that letting it rest at room temperature accomplishes almost nothing.
Myth #2: "Sear your meat over high heat to lock in juices."
The Theory. Searing the surface of a cut piece of meat will precipitate the formation of an impenetrable barrier, allowing your meat to retain more juices as it cooks. The Reality: Searing produces no such barrier—liquid can still pass freely in and out of the surface of a seared steak.
Myth #3: "Bone-in steak has more flavor than boneless."
The Theory. Bones contain flavorful compounds that get transferred to the meat around them as the steak cooks. Thus, cooking with the bone in will give you more flavor than with the bone out. The Reality. There actually is no exchange of flavor between the meat and the muscle.
Myth #4: "Only flip your steak once!"
The Theory. EVERYBODY says this one, and they say it not just for steaks, but for burgers, lamb chops, pork chops, chicken breasts, you name it. The reality is that multiple flipping will not only get your steak to cook faster — up to 30% faster — but will actually cause it to cook more evenly, as well.
Myth #5: "Don't season your steak until after it's cooked!"
The Theory. Salting your meat early can dry it out and make it tough. The Reality. A dry surface is a good thing for steak— that moisture has to go away for proper browning anyway, so the drier your steak is to begin with, the better it'll brown in the pan. Salting early can also help your meat maintain a bit more internal moisture in the long run.
Myth #6a: "Don't use a fork to turn your steak."
The Theory. Poking a steak with a fork will cause it to leak valuable juices. The Reality: This one is true - to a degree. A degree so small that it can't possibly be detected by the human mouth. The whole myth here is that people seem to think that a steak is like a water balloon; That is can be "popped," releasing juices. This is not actually the case. Really, a steak is like a series of very thin water balloons, all packed tightly into bundles. Poke your steak with a fork and a few of those balloons may indeed pop, but most will simply be pushed out of the way.
Myth #6b: "If you cut it open to check doneness, it will lose all its juices."
The Theory. Similar to the fork theory, people say that by cutting a steak open, you lose valuable juices. The Reality. Again, the amount of juice lost by a single slit-and-peek is completely inconsequential in comparison to the whole piece of meat.
Myth #7: "Use the "poke test" to check if your steak is done."
The Theory. A seasoned cook can tell how well-done a steak is by poking it with their finger. If it's rare, it should feel like the fleshy part of your hand at the base of your thumb when you touch your thumb to your index finger. Medium is if you touch it to your middle finger. Well-done is if you touch it to your ring finger. The Reality. There are so many uncontrolled variables, the biggest being that not all hands are created equal.
So are there any of these myths that you follow? Are there any family secrets you use to cook the perfect steak?