Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some entirely practical advice: How to tenderize a steak.

Some time ago I posted a short piece on how to efficiently peel an egg. I have used that technique every since I learned about it and it worked. Now I have come across a new piece of cooking advice that I wish I had learned about two years ago -- how to cook tender steaks regardless of the quality of the beef you start with.

One problem I've had in Europe is that the beef is very poor in quality. I've been in Europe about 18 out of the last 24 months. And I'm a confirmed steak lover. But I can count the really decent steaks I've had in that time on one hand. Even when I buy steak at the shop it usually ends up tough and stringy. The beef quality just sucks. Now I've not had this problem in other parts of the world. I have done what I knew how to do to tenderize the meat I purchase and still I rarely found a decent cut that was a joy to eat. To add misery to pain the prices of beef are very, very high in Europe. I was looking for a secret to tenderize meat easily and cheaply. Remember this also works with cheaper, tougher cuts that one may buy to save money. And it's simple.

About one hour before you wish to cook the meat lay the pieces out on a plate. Now get some sea salt. You want large grain salt not normal table salt, no iodine. Cover the top of the steak with the large grains of salt. And this does mean cover it, but enough on so that you actually feel a twinge of panic. Let it sit for one hour. When ready to cook you now take the steak and wash off the salt. Very little of the salt will actually remain if you do this. Now take paper towels and dry the steaks thoroughly. Now cook them as you normally would. A few cents worth of salt will basically make a lower priced steak taste more like the more expensive cuts.

Remember you are not marinating the steak. Nor should try to tenderize it by stabbing it with a fork or a knife. You don't want the steak filled with salt. Let it sit and draw out the water from the steak. A small amount of that will then seep back into the steak and that will tenderize the steak. Just make sure you remove all the remaining salt and dry the meat thoroughly before cooking. I tried it tonight with a normal cut of "cheap" steak (only $10 for one) tonight and the meat was some of the tenderest I've had since getting here. So it works. And all the other methods I've looked at are very time consuming and many, I have tried and they didn't work well.