Cooking With Fire: Steak Myths
The rules of steak: We’ve all heard them, and they’re not always pleasant on the ears. Like the people who insist they like their steak “bloody.” Or those who want you to sear the steak to lock in the juices. Or the person who wants you to rest a cooked steak for 15 minutes to allow time for the juices to redistribute.
Well, they’re all wrong. In fact, we’ve known for years that these steak “rules” are in fact “myths,” yet they continue to be part of the grilling vernacular, even among seasoned grill masters.
So if they aren’t true, why do they continue to this day? I’m not exactly sure, but I can pass along some useful information so that next time you hear one of these popular phrases you can set the record straight.
Take, for example, the first perpetuated myth that I mentioned: that a red steak is a bloody steak. The red liquid inside of the steak is in fact not blood; it is a mixture of water and myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein that stores oxygen in muscle cells, and has very high concentrations of red pigment. This is why the meat of most mammals is so red, because they have much higher levels of myoglobin especially when compared to poultry which has very little, which is why we consider most poultry to be white meat.
The myoglobin is also the reason your steak turns dark brown when cooked, because as the protein heats up the iron atoms in the myoglobin lose electrons and becomes more oxidized, turning brown instead of red.
So the next time you hear someone say they like their steak “bloody,” please correct them.
And that’s just one misunderstood fact about steak. For more steak myth busting, listen to the latest episode of Cooking With Fire where my co-host Chef Tom and I will break down the most popular steak myths and give you a recipe for the perfect pan-seared steak.
- 1 ribeye steak
- smoked salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2-3 tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
- Preheat a 12” cast iron skillet over an gas burner set to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, rub a thin layer of vegetable oil on the steaks; just enough to bind the seasoning to the meat. Then season all surfaces of the meat with the salt and pepper.
- When the pan is smoking hot, add the clarified butter. Place one sprig rosemary in the middle of the pan. Set the steak right on top of the rosemary. Top the steak with the other sprig of rosemary. Using a towel to protect your hand, grab the handle and tilt the skillet toward you and begin spooning the oil and juices from the pooled liquid over the top of the steak and herbs. You will want a metal spoon, something larger than a soup spoon. This basting will allow the steak to cook from both sides as well as infuse the aroma of the rosemary into the steak. Do this until the bottom of the steak is nicely seared, constantly basting. Flip the steak and continue basting until the internal temperature reaches 125ºF. There is nothing wrong with flipping the steak more than once, if one side is cooking faster than the other.
- Let the steak rest 5 minutes before slicing.