Steaks need a good bit of seasoning. Many of us cooking at home always underestimate the value of salt on our steaks. The key to a good seasoning on a steak is a good amount of kosher salt.
Steak has its own juices and depending on the type of steak you are using, it may seriously benefit from more salt than you might imagine.
You should only ever use coarsely-grained kosher salt and never use table salt to salt a steak. However, it is not so simple as just ‘use salt’. There is more to it, which we will now share with you!
Steaks are usually rather thick, with an ideal size that will typically follow guidelines for choosing the best steaks often saying it is an inch and a half thick. However, this will depend on the type of steak. Filet steaks are usually much thicker.
Salt is the only seasoning on the surface of the steak, so most of the steak will have no salt at all, which is a reason that steaks need generous salting.
If you were only to eat the surface of your steak then it would likely taste way too salty, however, you are going to eat the whole steak. This means that the outside of your steak will have enough seasoning to flavor every bite you take.
When Should You Salt A Steak?
One of the primary debates surrounding salting a steak is when it should be salted. There are some chefs who would rather salt their steaks in advance of cooking, some may salt steaks 24 hours before they start to cook.
Some others would say that salting their steaks right before cooking is the best way to salt them.
The primary downfall of seasoning a steak well in advance is that salt which is applied to the outside of the steak will pull water (see also: Best 11 Chuck Steak Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water)from inside the steak, causing it to be significantly drier and less juicy.
In fact, any steak left overnight in the fridge will lose juices overnight, with or without salt, but with salt, it will lose even more.
Of course, another reason many do not like to salt a steak well in advance is that it extends prep time unnecessarily. Seasoning a steak 24 hours in advance means that you are in prep 24 hours before you are cooking dinner.
You also need the fridge space to accommodate these steaks for this amount of time as well.
Should You Season A Steak In Advance?
If you do not mind being in prep 24 hours before you cook, then you can always try it out.
Simply pat the meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle kosher salt generously over both sides of the steak. Do not forget to salt the steak edges as well! There are at least 1 ½” of surface you need to cover.
Really press the salt crystals into the meat with your hands, working it in to allow the flavor to attach.
Then, once this is done, transfer your steaks to cooling racks with a baking sheet or sheet pan beneath, and cover the whole tray with plastic wrap before you stick them into the fridge overnight.
Before you cook them, remove them from the fridge 30 minutes before you intend on cooking them, pat them with paper towels once more, season them with fresh ground black pepper, and press it into the meat.
Why do we pat the steaks dry? Doing so provides a browner crust when you cook it.
Seasoning Your Steaks Before You Grill Them
If the above method is not for you, and instead you want to salt before you cook, then let the steaks sit at room temperature for half an hour before you sprinkle both sides and edges with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Press your seasoning into the meat, and if you fancy, even brush the steaks over with a bit of clarified butter or high-heat oil before you grill.
Whether you agree or disagree with adding salt in advance or just before is a common debate. Even the best chefs across the world still cannot agree on which method is the best. However, we have tried both and both work well.
One is easier and juicier, but it is actually best for you to try both methods and decide for yourself.
Ground Black Pepper: Yes Or No?
Speaking of seasoning debates, the debate around salt is not the only active discussion about seasoning steaks. There is another debate around black pepper seasoning the steak.
One thought process is that if you apply the pepper before cooking then it will burn, which will make it taste bitter.
Those who lean this way suggest that the pepper be ground up onto the steaks after the steaks have been seared, or just before you serve.
However, another school of thought believes it is just better to season the steak with fresh ground black pepper before cooking, and just leave it at that.
Now, yes, black pepper could burn, but if you pepper midway through cooking then the pepper granules may not stick to the meat. While you could use the pepper grinder at the table, it is not always possible.
Therefore, unless you have found a taste similar to that of burned black pepper on your steaks in the past, you should just stick to peppering them before cooking.
How to season steaks is a debate that has been going on between chefs for a very long time, and it is unlikely that anyone will ever actually come to an agreement. However, it is best that you simply season it in the way that you find tastes best overall.
Whether you prefer seasoning in advance, or not, just remember that salt and pepper make a divine steak!
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