The cure for watery steak

Sliced aged CAB sirloin

That’s juice, not water, gushing out of this splendid aged sirloin

I have been reading Steak by Mark Schatzker, in which the author searches the world for the world’s tastiest piece of beef. It is a quest I will admire, but not join, because I believe you should not have to venture further than your own fry pan or Weber grill provided you have good meat and know how to cook it. I am adventurous about most foods, but eating out steak is expensive and I rarely feel the result is up to what I can easily make at home.

One frustration of this author made me curious: his frequent encounters with “watery” steak. A search of the web finds many others who share this problem. There are really only two reasons a steak might taste watery–which we’ll interpret as having thin, tasteless juices–and both are easy to fix.

The first scenario is that you may not have seared the meat sufficiently to cauterize the surface and seal in what’s inside. This can happen if your heat isn’t high enough, or if you don’t dry the meat with a paper towel before it goes on the fire. Especially dangerous are marinades (which usually are for less tender cuts, so you’re behind the 8 ball to begin with) that saturate the flesh to the point it can’t easily be dried enough to create a crispy outside skin. If you must grill a marinated steak (instead of dusting it with seasoned flour and pan-frying it) dry very thoroughly and brush with some olive oil which will keep the juices inside until the skin comes up to temperature.

The second possibility is that you served it too soon, immediately off the grill, instead of letting it rest. It only takes a minute for the juices to coalesce and the blood and fat and seasonings to combine to create the wonder that is a flavorful steak, but if you don’t wait that minute the too-liquid juices will flow out on your plate. In a steakhouse, the brief time as it journeys from grill to the station where it waits for the server is sufficient. Give it the same moment of rest at home, and say goodbye to watery steak.

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