Steak is a beloved staple on dinner tables around the world, but not all steaks are created equal. Some are tough and chewy, while others are juicy and tender. In this blog post, we’ll explore the secret ingredient that can take any steak from tough to tender in just a few simple steps: salt.
Salt is a powerful tool for tenderizing steak. It works by breaking down the proteins in the meat, which in turn makes it more tender. One of the most popular methods for using salt to tenderize steak is through a process called “dry brining.” Dry brining is a simple and effective technique that involves rubbing a mixture of salt and spices onto the steak before cooking. The salt is able to penetrate the meat and break down the proteins, making the steak more tender and flavorful.
How to Dry Brine a Steak
To dry brine a steak, start by mixing together the ingredients. A basic dry brine mixture consists of 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of steak, but you can add other seasonings such as pepper, herbs, and spices. Once the mixture is ready, generously coat both sides of the steak with it, making sure to rub it into the meat. Place the steak on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but ideally for 24 hours.
When the steak is ready, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. This allows the steak to come to room temperature which helps to cook it evenly. The dry brine will have drawn out some of the moisture from the steak which will then be reabsorbed making the steak more flavorful and juicy.
Salt not only helps to break down the proteins in the steak, but it also helps to retain moisture, making the steak more succulent. As the salt dissolves in the steak’s juices, it creates a brine solution. This solution is able to penetrate the meat, breaking down the fibers and making it more tender. Additionally, the salt helps to form a crust on the steak during cooking, which seals in the juices and adds a delicious crusty texture to the steak.
Another advantage of dry brining is that it can be used to season the steak all the way through, whereas traditional wet brining only seasons the outer layer of the steak. This means that dry brining results in a more evenly seasoned steak. This method is perfect for steaks that are leaner cuts, as they tend to dry out quickly, and dry brining helps to add moisture to the meat.
In conclusion, the secret ingredient to tenderizing any steak is salt. Dry brining is a simple and effective method for using salt to make steak more tender and flavorful. By rubbing a mixture of salt and spices onto the steak before cooking, the salt is able to penetrate the meat and break down the proteins, making the steak more tender. Additionally, dry brining helps to retain moisture in the steak, making it more succulent and juicy. This method is perfect for leaner cuts of steak, which tend to dry out quickly. So next time you’re cooking steak, don’t be afraid to experiment with dry brining and see for yourself the difference it can make. With this technique, you’ll be able to take any steak from tough to tender in just a few simple steps, and elevate your steak-cooking game to the next level.
Juicy Dry-Brined Steak Recipe
- 1 (1-inch thick) steak (such as ribeye, sirloin, or strip steak)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt per pound of steak
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as thyme or rosemary) (optional)
- Mix together the kosher salt, black pepper, and dried herbs in a small bowl.
- Place the steak on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
- Generously coat both sides of the steak with the salt mixture, making sure to rub it into the meat.
- Place the steak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but ideally for 24 hours.
- Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill over high heat until it's smoking hot.
- Place the steak in the skillet or on the grill, and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or longer if desired.
- Remove the steak from the skillet or grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Enjoy your juicy and flavorful dry-brined steak! This recipe can be adapted to your preference, you can add any herbs or spices that you like. The key is to let the steak sit in the salt mixture for at least an hour, but the longer the better, this allows the salt to fully penetrate the meat, breaking down the proteins and making it more tender.