Jun 3, 2016

More About Grilling Steaks

When your steak hits a hot surface, the smell and color change from pink to brown is part of the Maillard reaction, named for scientist Louis Camille-Maillard, who discovered the principle.

Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and simple sugars rearrange themselves and produce thousands of molecules that result in smell and color changes, as well as flavor variation and intensification. This happens in all kinds of food, from baking bread to grilled shrimp. It is also what causes toast to smell so good and what turns beer brown.

Having a dry surface encourages the Maillard reaction, which is why so many articles and recipes for steak tell you to let the meat air dry or to pat it with paper towels before cooking it. Drier food plus hot temperatures equals more reactive compounds in your steak. More Maillard reaction equals more flavor.

Serious Eats points out that flipping your steak several times during the cooking process lets the heat from one side disperse back into the meat, which rescues the outer edges from becoming tough and overcooked. Frequent flipping cooks the meat more even, and significantly faster. Flip every minute instead of once or twice and the meat will be done in a third less time. This works because neither side has time to absorb much heat when facing the fire or lose too much heat when facing away.

To remove excess moisture, pat it dry with an absorbent kitchen towel or paper towel before you put it in a pan or on the grill.

You can even go the extra mile and salt steaks ahead of time and let them sit. The salt will add flavor and draw out surface moisture, all while slightly breaking down the proteins and improving the texture of the steak.

For the ultimate in tender, juicy beef, do not forget to slice it against the grain.

If you have any leftover uncooked steaks, freeze them properly for maximum flavor next time.

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