There has been much debate (see here and here and here and here) about when the best time is to salt a steak. Some say at least an hour to a day ahead and others argue it should be just before cooking. I believe both have their reasons and because I’m used to buying steaks on my way home from work the same evening I’ll cook them, I’m more accustomed to the latter method for sake of eating sooner. But the claims of juicy, nearly aged quality out of lesser cuts has made me curious for some time. So I decided to give the advanced salting method a go to see how it compares.
I started with two large tri-tip steaks, parsley, garlic, butter, sea salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. The steak was from Costco, cost $28 and was plenty enough to serve 7 or 8 people.
I mixed a lot of salt, herbes de provence, and a bit of pepper together. I generously seasoned the meat, pressing the spices into the flesh, flipping it over and coating both sides. Each steak was about 1.5 inches thick. I covered the meat and left out on the counter to bring it to room temperature and let the salt do it’s work for 2 hours.
Afterwards, I rinsed each steak and patted them very, very dry with paper towels. They were cooked on a hot grill for 10 minutes per side.
While the meat cooked, I prepared an herb butter by mixing chopped parsley and garlic into soft butter.
Once the steaks were cooked, I put a lovely slather of the herb butter on top and allowed to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
We ate the steak with fried potatoes, leftover curried cauliflower, and grilled eggplant.
Conclusion: The texture of the meat was divine. It was so juicy and tender. The flavor was excellent, but … one of the steaks was just too salty for my taste. I think it was just not rinsed as well as the other. I’d love to try this again because I do think that it has a lot of potential. Although I used sea salt, it was ground as fine as table salt and I think a more course salt would serve this purpose better. Or, I could use a small amount of salt and not rinse it off.
Thankfully, there were plenty around that like their meat salty and all of the meat was enjoyed. Have you tried this? Do! And report back with your findings. I’d love to hear your suggestions and experiments.
I still won’t hesitate to go straight from the butcher counter to home, to unwrap a piece of meat, salt and pepper it generously, and immediately throw it into a hot skillet on a dollop of olive oil. Because there really is nothing better than a dinner ready in five minutes with a medium rare steak, a handful of greens, and a big squeeze of lemon over everything.
Maybe I’m easy to please, but I’m not taking a firm stance on either end of the when-to-salt argument. Just don’t cook it too long or douse in ketchup and I’m happy as can be.