I’ve been over-salting my steaks for years because, unbeknownst to me, something magical happens during this preparatory process.
By not being a chemist, I refer to this magic as purely “delicious”, but food scientists will tell you that there is a tenderizing method that anyone can use by salting the meat before cooking – the extra salt breaks down the proteins and releases natural juices. . Chunky kosher-like salts (suggested below) can transform chewy, gummy steaks into juicy steaks with just a little bit of everyday kitchen chemistry.
Tenderness and restaurant-quality flavor is possible for any steak simply by following this simple step: steak with salt according to the ratio I describe in the instructions below (basically, the thickness of your steak will determine how long it will be exposed to large amounts of salt).
Note: for those worried about consuming too much salt, don’t worry as they will wash off the excess salt before cooking (see step 4).
How to: tenderize a steak
This technique is used everywhere from commercial kitchens (where I first saw chefs on salt fillets) to my own kitchen. It’s a must-have tip for any chef looking to revive lifeless meat.
* 1 pound. steak (1 to 1.25 inches thick)
* kosher salt
1.) Measure the tenderness time of the steak – Depending on the thickness of the steak, you’ll want to season it with salt for every inch of thickness. For example, a 1-inch-thick steak requires an hour of salting; a 1.5-inch-thick steak requires an hour and a half of tenderizing, and so on.
2.) To start, coat the steak on both sides with a thick layer of coarse salt, such as sea or kosher. Leave the steak at room temperature (covered with a cloth or paper towel) and watch the steak’s natural juices rise higher and higher to the skin as it softens before your eyes. Salt is a natural tenderizer, making the steak increasingly juicy as it breaks down the proteins in the meat and improves the texture of the meat.
2.) Check the steak after 30 minutes to make sure the water has risen to the surface. Walk away and allow time to continue working.
3.) Check the steak every hour to see if there are large puddles of juice (either on the surface of the steak or around the base of the meat). If puddles are now forming and your steak is an inch or less thick, you are ready to go to Step 4. If the puddle is just starting, give the steak another 10 minutes or more before going to Step 4.
4.) Once the steak is tender, rinse well with water to remove excess salt. Salt adds a wonderful flavor to any dish, but we are really using it for its chemical properties right now. Pat the fillets dry to remove extra moisture from the skin. Feel free to rinse and dry again if you are concerned about the salt content.
5.) The steaks are now ready to cook.
Makes 2 steaks (1/2 pound).