Let’s have a short mental exercise in which you are suddenly asked to think why do you season your cut of meat the way you usually do. Have you ever tried to season your cutting board instead?
Without any joke… first of all, we are just trying to make you wonder more regarding how and when else could the steak seasoning be better to happen.
Secondly, we want to give or remind you about the way one understands how in essence, the meat keeps or receives the seasoning. The meat is like a fluffy sponge and cooking a cut of meat is like wringing a wet sponge.
If this was not clear enough till now for you, then in the following lines will be a tasty chance to convince yourself about the sponge-like reaction of meat and why seasoning cutting board could be a game-changer.
So cooking (wringing of the wet sponge) has two faces when it comes to meat:
- the heating which pushes out meat’s moisture
- the cooling that sucks up its moisture
These two processes build the argument as well behind the choice of not to flavor the steak but to season the cutting board instead.
To season or not season the cutting board…
Although we are used to immediately season the beef cuts a few seconds before throwing them for searing, doing so, will not necessarily be the reason for enhancing that wanted browning.
But be careful in case you still want to salt the steak before cooking it.
If you were to season a steak just 3- 5 minutes before grilling/ searing it, layers of moisture would appear on its surface, and all the beef liquid eventually would be lost through evaporation. In consequence, the deepness of the flavor will be slightly lower.
According to Kenji Lopez’s article on the subject, salting the meat 40 minutes before you start cooking it, would be another good idea because, during this time, most of the beef liquid has already reabsorbed into the meat. A small degree of evaporation will still happen, but this will only cause the meat to be more concentrated as a flavor.
Now for some of us who didn’t ever season the cutting board, let’s experiment it by putting nothing but oil on the steak before it goes in the pan. We are going to exemplify this seasoning way with a strip steak or the so-called sirloin.
- Just chop up some rosemary.
- Finely grate a small clove of garlic.
- Drizzle coarsely ground pepper and add according to your taste, some lemon juice.
- Then touch your board with just a few grains of salt for that bit of salt evenly distributed throughout the steak.
- Have your beef cut at room temperature.
- By the time you finished to season the cutting board, at least one steak’s side should have already caramelized.
- Flip your steak and wait for the other goldish brownie side.
- Then we propose you adding on your cutting board some slivers of butter as well if you like the milky taste and you enjoy the fresh butter contrasts with the deep, dark flavor of the steak.
Besides the minute you preheat your pan, cook the steak for nine minutes total and rest it for five. You’ll practically have more than ten minutes to gather all your magic of flavors on the cutting board while searing the meat.
Also, you could blend your butter and baste it over the steak in the last minute of searing if you like it brown. Otherwise, you can add the butter with the rest of the seasonings.
- Once seared, the steak will go on top of all the gathered flavors (rosemary, pieces of butter) while releasing the raw garlic’s flavor.
- You’ll soon notice the juice coming out on the board because the sponge of meat is squeezed out, releasing the beef juice.
- Cut your steak into thin slices – across the grain, cut them further into half pieces, and start tossing all the pieces in that pool of beef juice mixed with flavors.
- Now would be the time when the sponge of meat starts to reabsorb, reclaim back all that mixture. Let this happen for a couple of seconds.
After all this slicing, tossing, and resting, the meat will go cold the instant you put it on a cold plate. A good idea besides using a microwave for warming up your plate is running it under hot water for a minute on both sides. A hot plate can reheat a well-rested piece of meat, which is one of the many reasons why steakhouses generally heat their plates.
Finally, try now drizzling a little bit of coarse salt in your final plate because this could prove to be more delicious, having all the salt captured in crunchy crystals on top of the caramelized, medium-rare steak rather than containing a low-level of saltiness uniformly distributed already during flavors’ mixing phase.
For us at least, this seasoning way was worth trying and we loved it. However, what do you think about it? Does it make sense to you?
Happy steak’s seasoning !