In Which I Overcook a Steak But it is Good Anyway
Kenji has taught me many great things about preparing meat, but that I should salt the meat and then wait a goodly while is apparently one of the most important. Here is why: I had two nice NY strips to make, and I was planning to pan fry them. I salted them generously and then left them in the fridge for about two hours. When it came time to cook them, I salted again (salt is great) and peppered, got a stainless steel pan smoking hot, and then pan fried. I don't know exactly how I miscalculated, I think I failed to take into account how very, very thin the steaks were, but I overcooked the hell out of them. They had just the faintest bit of pink inside, and I thought: I have created dog food. I have betrayed my girlfriend who was counting on me to make good steaks, and I have disgraced the cow who gave her life so I could have this meal.
But wait! When the steaks were cut and plated amongst their vegetables, we bit into them and they were really really juicy! As juicy as a steak cooked by someone much smarter than I! While this may just be some kind of beef miracle, I believe it is a result of the salting, the waiting, and then giving both steaks a reasonable rest after cooking. Though they were overcooked, they still had the power to retain moisture, and tasted great. Furthermore they had a great crust from having the hell fried out of them, so it was actually a great steak experience overall. The lesson is this: The pre-salting and waiting is important not just because it will make a properly cooked steak better. It is also important because it may save a steak you screw up.