Should You Poke Holes In Steak Before Grilling



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Too dry, too mushy can spoil the fun of savoring a perfect piece of juicy steak. From the refrigerator to the plate, there are so many things that go into creating that perfect dish. If you want to be the steak-master of the house then there are a few rules of grilling that you need to follow.

One of the most commonly asked questions is – should you poke holes in steak before grilling? The answer is both a No and Yes. Some people say you should never poke holes as this can toughen the membranes and result in the natural juices flowing out of meat.

The other theory says poking holes allows the marinade to seep inside and tenderize the meat even more. If the steak hits a 400 degrees temperature in a good quality grill, poking holes should not be an issue anyways. 

There are many people out there who believe that stabbing a steak with a fork can make the meat more tender and help juices get in and make your food more flavorful. However, this is a misconception as juices tend to flow out, and moreover, you do not need seasoning for a good quality steak.

If you go by the above concept, poking a few holes in the steak before the grilling process may still be acceptable but you should never stab it with a fork while the meat is grilling.

So, how do you ensure that you don’t need to poke holes and the marinade still seeps inside the steak perfectly to give you a juicy and flavorful steak? Let’s find out more about this.

What Do The Experts Say

Expert chefs recommend that you use a not-very-thick marinade for the meat as it becomes harder for the juices to get it. Instead, use a thinner consistency that can perfectly cover up the meat completely. You must also remember the difference between grass-fed beef cattle and grain-fed cattle.

Steaks from grass-fed cattle tend to have a more grassy- undertone, that some people may like while others may find repulsive. If you don’t want the steak to have a grassy flavor, poke a few holes before grilling to allow the marinade to get inside and overcome the undertones.

The grass-fed beef will also lack marbling, so we suggest that you allow some salt and butter to seep into the meat during the cooking process.  This will enable the dry and tough grassy steak to tenderize a bit more and improve upon the natural flavor.

If the steak is more than 1 1/4 inches thick, you will need to employ the reverse sear cooking method to make the steak more flavorful and also let it cool more evenly. Below we have mentioned some of the things that you should avoid when grilling a steak.

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Grilling Steak

  • Cooking a steak straight out of the fridge

This is a very common mistake that people commit when preparing steak and should be avoided at all costs. Never take the steak straight out of the refrigerator and put it into the grill. Just like they do at the restaurants, let the steak sit outside at room temperature for some time before grilling.

If you put it straight into the grill, the meat will stay cold inside and the outsides will get charred. Hence, we strongly recommend that you avoid this mistake.

  • Putting steak on a pan or grill that’s not hot enough

Please bear in your mind that the pan or grill should be screaming hot before you put the steak on it. If not, the blood and juice will escape the meat by the time it gets cooked, giving you a dry and gray piece of meat.

  • Not seasoning well

Many people are apprehensive about dousing the steak well with the seasoning because they think they might end up overdoing it. However, this is not true. Please remember to season both sides of the steak properly with freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and kosher salt for optimum flavor.

  • Leaving the steak on an open flame for too long.

When working on an open flame, you must be careful about searing it fast and moving the meat to the side, or else you may end up with a charred piece. The ideal way of doing this is to sear slightly to lend some color and then move it to a cooler area of grill around the open flame.

  • Poking with a fork to check the doneness

We have all committed this sin and repented over dried steak. So, we strongly suggest that you avoid poking the steak in order to check if it’s done. Poking holes in the meat, while it’s grilling, is an unforgivable sin as the blood and marinade juices will leach out, leaving a tasteless and dry steak.

  • Flipping the steak more than once

After you put the steak in a hot pan, allow it to caramelize and flip only once if needed. We have seen people commit the mistake of flipping the meat too many times. If the steak is removed from the hot surface every two minutes, you defeat the purpose of searing the outside and locking in the juices. 

  • Pressing down the meat using a spatula

I have seen people do this so many times and it’s almost like killing the flavor. Experts say pressing the meat with a pair of tongs or a spatula is as bad as poking with a fork. By doing so, you put pressure on the fatty marbled area within the meat, resulting in the juices leaching out.

  • Serving steak fresh from the grill or pan

After the meat is properly grilled or cooked, let it rest on the pan for sometime before taking it out. When you let the steak relax, the juices gather around the center, rending it juicy and soft. The amount of time required for resting will depend on the size of the steak. For example, if you are doing 42-ounce meat then let it relax for 10-15 minutes before serving.

  • Not re-seasoning the meat before serving

I already added chili, salt, and pepper, so why again, you may ask. Well, a larger part of the initial seasoning tends to get lost when you grill the meat. Thus, it’s always necessary to sprinkle some sea salt over the meat before you leave the kitchen.

How long should you let the steak rest

There are two ways of measuring the resting time for the amount of meat you are grilling. First, it can be five minutes for every inch of steak thickness. The second theory is to let it rest ten minutes for every pound of meat.

How do Chinese chefs make their beef steak so tender

The secret lies in the marinade that includes cornstarch, egg whites, water or rice wine, and salt. It is kept for about 30 minutes to allow the mixture to coat the meat completely and change the pH level, thus making it so tender and juicy.

Why is my steak chewy and tough

If the steak is not cooked enough for the required amount of time then the fat will not be converted into flavors, and as a result of which the juices will not start flowing. Also, if you overcook the steak, all the fats and juices will evaporate leaving the meat hard, tough, and chewy.

See Also:
Cast Iron Skillet Vs Grill Pan For Steak
Pan Fry Vs Grill Steak: Which Is Better
Why don’t Blackstone Grills Have Lids?
Can You Use a Charcoal Grill as a Fire Pit?

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