The best beef steak is obtained from the less-used muscles of the calf. Moreover the best beef steak is the one that is thick, soft, juicy with the unique taste of the calf. So, how do we make it softer and how do we cook the juicy steak?
First of all the softness of the meat depends on the contained marble fat and secondly, the type of the connecting tissues. The third and the most significant one that affects the softness is the ‘aging’ of the meat. The meat is a product that tastes better in time, like cheese and wine.
THE METHODS FOR AGING PROCESS
There are two aging methods:
Dry aging and wet aging.
Two things happen with the meat during the aging process. Firstly, the meat becomes incredibly soft and it dissolves under the teeth better. This feature of dissolving under teeth is called the grain of the meat. So, the better the meat grain, the higher the quality.
In this method the whole calf carcass is hanged in the cold chamber and kept for up to six weeks. Three weeks is enough for softening, but the additional weeks improve its taste greatly.
The cold chamber must have some basic properties. First of all the temperature must always stay between 1Co and 3Co, in other words slightly above the freezing point. The reason for this is to prevent the bacteria growth on the meat. This is a very important and vital point. Secondly the chamber humidity needs to be between 80 – 85%. Thirdly, the cold air needs to be continuously circulated around the carcass. The quick circulation (1.5m/second) around the meat needs to be ensured by placing a fan. The optimum period is around 6-7 weeks. The aging happens faster at higher temperatures, but it also creates the risk for quick bacteria growth. Bu this method must absolutely never be tried at home and the aging process must be done professionally.
The meat aged through dry method is the softest and most delicious meat. But the meat price becomes higher at significant rates. During the dry aging process a hard crust emerges at the top of the carcass and a serious blue mold layer with the thickness of 1 or 2 finger(s) occur. This moldy crust must be separated and removed. Moreover, dry aging causes approximately 20% loss of water, shrinking the carcass. The removal of the surface mold and hard layer, in addition to the water loss, means approximately 35% weight loss, in other words the meat diminishes.
The wet aging process that was developed during the 70s does not cause any reduction as there is no mold, surface hardening or water loss. This means it is a much more economic method. Moreover the aging period is shorter and the process is simple. The meat is placed and vacuumed within packing nylons, and kept in the fridge for three weeks. After this period the packs are cut and removed; the result is the softened meat. There is no softness difference between the wet and dry aging processes, but the tastes are incredibly different.
In the light of this information we can now easily distinguish good steak. But cooking the beef steak on grill in a perfect way is as important as that. But, what does it mean to cook “perfectly”?
The perfect steak is the steak that is not-tendered but cut with 5 or 7 cm of thicknesses, with the edge fats removed completely, external surface is caramelized but the middle section is red and slightly warm. In other words the exterior should be overcooked and the middle section should be rare. The extreme situations regarding the rare and overcooked meat must be avoided. The middle section of the rare steak will be cold, it touches the teeth like rubber with the taste of protein. An overcooked steak is not regarded as steak in the world of gastronomy. Such type of meats rather give the taste of corrugated cardboard.
Now, about the cooking process.. Firstly we should remove the steaks from the fridge two hours beforehand and keep them waiting under room temperature. In this way the middle section of your thick steak can be cooked easier. Meanwhile clean all the visible fat on the meat (but not inside). This is very important because the fats melting on the grill drip on the fire and cause soot on the meat. This causes an unpleasant and unnecessary soot smell by giving a bad color to the meat.
Burn your barbeque 45 minutes beforehand. The cooking temperature must be very high (330C). Approach your hand over the fire and count to 1 to understand this. If you can still keep your hand, it is not hot enough. When you place the steaks on the previously oiled grill, they will stick. 2-3 minutes later, when they release themselves, turn them with the tong. Repeat this turning process two times, cook for 10 minutes in total. Press the tong on the steak to understand if it is cooked or not. Warning!! Do not use fork/knife because the opened holes on the meat will cause water to leak.
FALSE FACTS REGARDING THE GRILL
Never use tendered steak. Because their middle sections will be cooked too much and they will become like rubber. Prefer the thick meats.
Do not apply salt on the steak before the grill. The salt will prevent the surface from frying.
Dry the steak well with kitchen towel before placing them on the fire. Otherwise the surface will not get grill effect but the water-cooked effect.
If you want to get a real “calf” taste, never marinate the steak. If you insist, the “papaya” and “pineapple” waters are good in this field.
If you are going to use non-sticking pan for your steak, follow the similar rules nevertheless.