Have you ever wondered why your steak is sometimes chewy? I have come across many situations where my steak is chewy and hard, and I used to believe that steaks are supposed to be that way until I experienced a very tender and succulent steak at a restaurant.
I then did a lot of digging and realized that a steak does not have to be chewy. Rather, it should be tender and juicy even if it is well done.
Is steak supposed to be chewy?
It’s important to know that a steak is not supposed to be chewy. A chewy steak means it is either undercooked or overcooked.
When it is undercooked, not all the fat has been melted and hence it gets chewier. An overcooked steak also sometimes ends up chewy because all the heat that goes into it makes it very dry and hard.
Chewy steaks are those which are hard to chew or, in other words, tough to eat.
Even the well-done steak does not have to be chewy, although it can be scorched at times.
I must remind you that steaks turn out to be chewy when the heat is very high, which causes the meat muscles to go firm, and all the juices will evaporate. However, there are factors too that can make your steak hard.
- 1 What Is A Tough Steak?
- 2 What Makes Steak Chewy?
- 3 How To Make A Tough Steak Tender
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 Other Popular Posts
What Is A Tough Steak?
Steaks that are hard to chew or require a lot of work from your teeth are called chewy steaks.
Sometimes it may feel as if you are chewing gum. Chewy steak will make your teeth tired, and you might feel like stopping eating.
The situation can be worse if you suffer from teeth issues or if your teeth are not that strong.
What Makes Steak Chewy?
There are basically two things that can make your steak chewy and tough to eat:
- The toughness of the meat – This is dependent on how the cow was raised and, more importantly, how it was slaughtered.
- The way you cooked the steak. To make the tenderest steak, whether you are grilling it or cooking on the stove, you must know what cut of beef to buy and how to cook it properly.
So, to avoid getting your steak chewy and hard, you must consider the following things:
Freshness Of The Steak
You might think it to be a good idea to buy steak in bulk and freeze them in the freezer before you can actually cook them.
However, you may not know that an improperly defrosted steak is most likely to lose the taste and texture that it initially had.
So, always remember the rule, the fresher the steak is, the more tender and juicy it will turn out to be.
The same applies to restaurants that do not always serve fresh steaks.
Therefore, the next time you go to a restaurant, do not forget to ask if they are serving fresh steak or not.
The cut of the meat is also important when you talk about the tenderness of the steak.
The steaks that come from the cut of meat loaded with fat and have a lot of marbling will most likely to be turn out tender and juicy.
This is because fat melts as steak cooks, and this melted fat makes the beef tender, which makes steak moister but full of flavors. Therefore, correctly cooked meat with high-fat content is always succulent and is easy to chew.
However, if the steak comes from a cut of lean meat with very little to no fat, it is most likely to be tough and chewy when cooked.
But these cuts can also be made tender if you follow some extra steps in their preparation.
Additionally, steaks that have high-fat content can also become chewy and tough if they are overcooked or cooked on very high heat, which will very quickly evaporate the fat due to which the steak will not be tender.
The preparation process has a very high impact on the steak’s tenderness.
The very first step of preparation is nothing but defrosting. Whenever you defrost your steak, please be careful about two things:
- The steak does not lose its texture and taste, so ensure you defrost your steak as slowly as possible and use a fridge if required.
- Make sure that the steak does not get contaminated with bacterial growth. One good tip which can be very handy is to make sure that steak reaches room temperature just before it is being cooked.
Cooking steak is not an easy job and requires expertise. Two things need to be considered while cooking steak, which are:
Steak should not be undercooked, as undercooked steaks have failed to melt the fat of the beef, which is why they become chewy.
Apart from being chewy and hard, they can also cause serious stomach problems and lead to food poisoning.
Steak should not be overcooked as overcooked steaks burn all fat present in the steak, turning it extra hard and chewy.
The Way The Cow Is Raised
It is essential to pay special attention to cow feeding and raising practices whenever you buy steak cuts.
The grass-fed beef is considered to be best when it comes down to cooking steaks.
However, grass-fed cow steaks are expensive as compared to other cows, which is one of their downsides.
Additionally, the cows involved in extensive physical activity have larger and more used muscles, which is why their meat is tough.
Age Of The Cow
This may come as a surprise to many. But it is a fact that the meat from younger cows is more tender and juicy than the older cows.
The science behind this is that as the cow grows older, more and more muscle fiber is built.
The denser the muscle fibers of the cow, the less tender the meat is going to be. It is why most premium cuts that are considered to be of high quality mostly come from virgin cows.
Cut Of Steak
The cut of the steak is another fact that determines the tenderness of the steak.
The steak cuts such as ribeye or sirloin are considered high quality, and they usually do not turn out to be chewy.
High-quality steaks are rich in fat and are full of marbling. The cuts that have dense muscles need extra preparation, such as marination and tenderizers, to ensure they are not chewy when cooked.
How To Make A Tough Steak Tender
As I mentioned earlier, some cuts of meat are tough but at the same more affordable.
Therefore, I will go through you how you can make those hard cuts of steak tender, ensuring they will melt in your mouth.
Tenderize The Meat
For tough cuts of meat such as chuck steak, you can always rely on meat mallets to easily breaking down the tough muscle fibers.
However, be gentle with tenderizing as you do not want to turn it into a paste; rather, only light pounding will do the job.
If you do not have a mallet, you can always use a fork to make tiny holes in the meat.
Use A Marinade
The use of marinade can be great to make your steak tender and juicy.
It is recommended to use acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk, which break down the tough proteins making the meat tender even before cooking.
It is recommended to marinade for not more than two hours, or the steak will become extra soft.
Even though you are using a marinade, just do not forget to salt the steak before cooking. Salt helps make the meat tender.
Let The Steak Come To Room Temperature
If you use a lean cut of meat, then let the steak come to room temperature before cooking, this can save you from overcooking your steak and avoiding your food becoming chewy.
Cook The Steak Low And Slow
Since overcooking, the steak can make it dry and hard.
Therefore, it is essential to simmer your steak at a low temperature, eliminating all the moisture.
Rest The Steak
Even if you have cooked the perfect steak, it will turn dry and chewy if you do not let it rest.
It is recommended by experts to rest the steaks for five minutes per inch thickness.
Slice The Steak Against The Grain
Almost all of us know that all cuts of steak have long muscle fibers that pass through them.
Your teeth will have to do extra work to chew if you cut the steak parallel to the muscle.
This is why you should always cut the steak in the direction opposite to that of muscle fiber to break easily, and the steak does not taste chewy.
So, is steak supposed to be chewy?
No, absolutely not. Even well-done steak should still be tender and juicy when eaten.
One of the misconceptions in cooking a steak is that undercooking will keep it soft and juicy.
In reality, while overcooking can make a steak dry, undercooking can make it chewy too.
There are a few ways to make sure you don’t end up having a chewy steak. One of those ways is to simmer it in water or any other liquid like broth.
You should know that a steak that has been properly cooked and is high in fat will never be chewy.
I hope you know exactly what a good steak tastes like and why chewy steaks are not considered good.
I wish you the best of luck with your steak cooking, and I am confident that you will be in a better position to cook a more tender steak after reading this post.