We’d all like to get the best cut of steak available all the time, but steaks like that can get very pricey. Even organically-raised beef from local farmers may be a bit less than prime or even choice grade. So how do you fix a great steak every time you grill one?
By upgrading your steak with an overlooked gem sitting right in your pantry- salt! You can apply the same technique of dry brining to steak that you use for your Thanksgiving turkey and get results worthy of a holiday feast.
What is dry brining?
Before foods were able to be safely stored in refrigerators, salt would be used to cure meat and to protect it from attracting harmful bacteria. Today, the process has evolved from a necessary step of preservation to a favorite culinary trick for achieving the best natural flavor of meat. So, why dry brine instead of wet brine? Using a wet brine, or rather dissolving the salt in water, essentially serves the same purpose of tenderizing meat, but the meat will absorb water and will have little to no flavor. By using a dry brine however, the meat will absorb the natural juices of the cut, resulting in a juicy steak with all the natural flavor of the meat. This is recommended and will be a decision that will definitely pay off. You will have tender, juicy steaks that have all the natural flavor of the meat without a water-based brine diluting the taste.
The theory is simple:
- Salt works its way into the meat a bit by osmosis.
- The salt denatures the proteins, relaxing the fibers and making the steak more tender.
It’s really just that simple. There are a couple of catches, though:
- The salt crystals need to be larger than table salt. Use kosher or sea salt.
- Dry brine about an hour per inch of steak with up to a tablespoon of salt per side.
- The steaks must be well rinsed and well dried after being salted. Don’t add additional salt after the steaks are rinsed and dried. Just a little freshly ground pepper will suffice.
- A big thanks to Jaden at Steamy Kitchen for all her work in figuring this out!
The reason this method will elevate a good steak to a great one is that water is being drawn out of the steak. Dry aging does this, too. The only thing the steak is losing is water, not flavor. The flavor is actually getting better, the steaks are more tender and your taste buds will thank you! Remember, always rest the meat for a few minutes before cutting so the juices stay inside your steak instead of on your plate. Try this technique and you’ll find a new appreciation for dry brining.
An easy method to improve flavor and tenderness of lesser cuts of steak.
- 2 1 1/2-inch bone-in ribeye steaks
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cover each side of the steaks evenly with salt 90 minutes prior to grilling.
- Let the steaks rest at room temperature for 45 minutes, then turn over and continue letting them rest.
- Preheat the TRU-Infrared grill to hot (500 degrees) 10 minutes before grilling.
- Rinse the steaks very well and pat them dry with a towel.
- Season the steaks with black pepper, then place on the grill for one minute.
- Turn the steaks 90 degrees for another minute, then turn the steaks over and repeat.
- Lower the grill temperature to about 350-400 degrees and continue grilling for about 6-8 minutes. Flip and grill for another five minutes.
- Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the steaks when they reach 125 degrees internal temperature.
- Cover with foil and rest for at least 7-8 minutes
- Slice the steak perpendicular to the bone. Then slice the meat off the bone and serve.
More Tips For Dry Brining
Here are a few more good tips to keep in mind to make your dry brine a success:
- Rule of thumb: Use a 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every 1 pound of meat.
- Thicker cuts require more time in the brine so the salt can work its way deep into the tissues.
- For roasts: Allow around 12 to 48 hours of brine time.
- For poultry: Breasts will need more salt and time than thighs.
- For pork: Use a combination of salt and sugar to bring out the natural sweetness of pork. Sugar will also help speed up the denaturing of proteins.