8 Myths About Cooking Steak You Need to Ignore

Jason Webster
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Myth 1. Don’t salt steak before it’s cooked

The first myth that I want to address is salting the steak before it’s cooked. You’ll find this often recommended in recipes and by chefs…even though there’s little evidence to suggest that it actually works.

For a long time now people have been salting steaks before cooking with the idea that the salt breaks down the proteins that hold the meat together and as a result, the steak will become more tender.

What actually happens is the salt dissolves and caramelizes on the outside of the meat and that creates a crisp crust. While it may feel more tender to chew, it’s really no different from steaks that have never been salted before.

So for a home cook, you can definitely salt rare steak before cooking. Just make sure that it’s in a safe place where the salt won’t contaminate other foods that you are cooking.

Personally I use a small plate or a cutting board and then I put the steak on a plate after it’s done.

Myth 2. Steak is best when cooked at room temperature

While fatty steak can certainly stand to be at room temp before cooking, the more muscular cuts aren’t usually as forgiving as lean cuts.

This is because muscles consume oxygen and nutrients as they break down during exercise.

This means that a blood-deprived piece of meat will not have a chance to pump up with its natural juices to keep meat moist.

What’s more, room-temperature meat is prone to getting overcooked. Overheating meat can make it tough and stringy.

The key is to know what your meat is. For instance, thinner cuts of steak can tolerate a quick nuke. But it’s always best practice to season it early.

Myth 3. Searing meat locks in the juices

Searing steak does not make the juices stay in the meat. Searing actually sets the juices free. Turning meat brown as a result of caramelization is a sign that sugars have been released. They are the juices that result from the rendering of fat in the meat.

Why does it make sense then to sear meat before you cook it? Because searing is an essential step before cooking to lock in the flavour by sealing in the juices and to add a craving to the meat.

Searing meat and then adding liquid in the pan, brings the pan to a boil, also heats up the side of the meat that is not touching the pan and helps cook the food from the inside.

When you sear it outside and then cook the food at a low temperature inside, it is like a low and slow cooking process, giving you a perfect steak every time.

Whenever you add liquids to searing meat, you always get a lot of searing liquid. Make sure you use it to make a good pan sauce to help add to the flavour profile of the meal.

Nice, crispy, browned edges on steak and chicken are a sign that you used a high heat, which you need whether you're searing meat in a frying pan or roasting a whole chicken in a hot oven.

Myth 4. Don’t flip your steak more than once

Most people think that in order for the steak to be cooked evenly, you shouldn’t flip your steak once you’ve placed it on the cooking surface. While you want to avoid the hot spots that are greater than 400 °F, it’s actually healthier to flip your steak more than once while it’s cooking.

The reason why it’s healthier is because the movement aids in the intermingling of the juices and allows the steak to cook evenly. This results in a better color, flavor and texture.

If you’re cooking a rib steak, you may want to consider placing it in an aluminum pan and allow for movement of the pan as it cooks.

Myth 5. Use the poke test to tell when your steak is done

I don’t know why this myth has gained popularity. It’s one of the worst ways to check the doneness of your steak because it will tell your steak is ready when it’s completely overdone.

The reason is that the poke test is nothing but the springy touch you get when you press on a steak. For well-done steak, it will feel like pushing a marshmallow.

So if you use it, no matter how well you’re cooking your steak, it will result in an overcooked steak. And it will be very disappointing if you open the oven to find a charred steak on the inside.

The best way to tell if your steak is ready is to hold it up and check for the color and the amount of juice running. Here are the must use strategies to answer the question “How much time to cook my steak?”

Myth 6. You can tell steak doneness by cutting into it

Do you really want to turn what could be a great steak meal into a game of roulette? If so, then check out this method:

For medium-rare steak, insert a sharp knife into the steak a couple of times, and then cut into it. If the inside is still red, it’s rare; if the inside is still pink, it’s medium-rare; if the inside is brown, it’s medium; if the inside is brown and dry, it’s well done.

Doing this leaves you with no way of knowing which marks you’ve made will match up with the inside of the steak. There’s a good chance it will be underwhelming.

The only surefire way to tell steak doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer.

Myth 7. You need to rest your steak after it’s cooked

The new consensus is that steaks actually taste better if you cook them aggressively, and then let them sit for 10 minutes.

In fact, as journalist Harold McGee wrote in his column in 2010: “Struggling to explain the science to a curious home cook, I called Daniel Martin, an expert on meat structure at the USDA’s research center in Albany, Ga. (the same cookbook author and meat scientist who worked with Riebe on the 2002 study).”

Martin, who confirmed this new research, said that resting helps slow the cooling process through the center of the steak. But if you slice the steak immediately, the temperature decreases the same way as it would if you’d rested it. The texture, though, will not be as tender, which becomes less of an issue as the temperature approaches the levels to which you’re typically accustomed.

Myth 8. Steak with the bone-in has a better flavor

(—and is cheaper)

The bone is connected to the meat by the sinew. And sinew is very tough. When it cooks, it dries out what is touching it. And as you can imagine, the sinew will dry out the meat around it if it’s touching it and you cannot really eat it. So you are paying for tough dry meat, and doesn’t have the flavor you expected. The better option for a budget steak, if you don’t know how to trim the sinew like a pro, is a boneless steak.

Everything you need to know about smoking wood

As a potential wood smoker, you need to know first what makes good and not so good Smoke Wood. The preferred choice should fall under a few category of wood types such as oak, hickory, pecan, and mesquite, these are considered to be the best as their flavor or the final end product are perfect.

What makes a wood type either good or bad for smoking is the amount or the lack of sap contained in each wood type. You need to make sure that the wood you buy is very dry, you can easily tell by the color of the wood is since green or wet wood has a darker color instead of the yellowish color.

What you should look for is the dry one, what you should avoid is the wet one. In addition, another factor worth considering is maple which is not suggested for smoking uses. It has a certain sweetness that is not good for the smoky flavor.

The woods that are cured are the best compared to the ones that are uncured. If you can’t find them, you can buy firewood, make sure they are dry.