You'll Never Guess the Secret to Perfectly Cooked Steak Every Time

It's already in your pantry.

<p>Allrecipes/seng kui Lim/Getty Images</p>

Allrecipes/seng kui Lim/Getty Images

The secret to a juicy, tender steak? It isn’t always by buying the most expensive cut in the case or using a complicated cooking technique that was honed in a restaurant kitchen. No, the secret is an ingredient you already have in your pantry—one that costs about a dollar a box and has endless uses in your kitchen. Read on to learn how everyday baking soda helps make steaks and burgers so deliciously tender.

Can You Use Baking Soda to Tenderize Meat?

In short, yes! A little baking soda can be used to tenderize meat. Note that the best use for this is on thinner steaks and ground beef burgers that will have a wide surface area when cooked. It won’t be effective with tough cuts of meat like stew meat, which are best made tender with a low and slow braise.

<p>Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Why Does Baking Soda Tenderize Meat?

You’ve probably heard of steaks that are made tender by pounding thin with a meat mallet or marinating in a brine or marinade that includes salt and acid. These methods work by breaking down the connective fibers in the meat (a meat mallet literally tears the fibers apart, and a marinade dissolves them).

Baking soda works a bit differently. When baking soda is added to a steak or burger, it causes a chemical reaction that keeps the muscle fibers from seizing up in the pan (what you notice when a burger shrinks on the grill). This looser network of fibers hangs on to juices better and creates a more tender bite.

What Is Velveting?

Many Chinese-American dishes use a technique called velveting that’s very similar to tenderizing meat with baking soda. Thin slices of steak or chicken are tossed with a slurry of cornstarch or baking soda and water, then refrigerated for at least thirty minutes or up to 12 hours. When stir-fried, the meat is tender—almost silky—because the muscle fibers don’t seize up in the hot pan.

<p>  Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How to Tenderize Meat With Baking Soda

Since baking soda won’t penetrate a steak like a marinade will, it’s best to use this technique on thinner cuts (about a half-inch thick). You can also stir the baking soda solution into ground beef before shaping burger patties or cooking for taco or sloppy Joe filling. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Mix with water: To prepare steak, in a bowl, stir together ½ cup water and 1 teaspoon baking soda until the baking soda dissolves. You’ll need 1 teaspoon baking soda per 12 ounces of steak.

  2. Let it soak: Add the steak to the bowl to submerge. Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

  3. Rinse and pat dry: After soaking the steak, rinse well under running water. Pat dry with paper towels, then season and cook as desired.

  4. Sprinkle and stir: To prepare ground beef, stir 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into 1 pound of ground beef. Season and cook as desired.

How to Cook Steak After Tenderizing

Once your steak has been soaked in baking soda and water, rinsed, and patted very dry, you’re ready to cook according to any recipe. Check out our favorite steak recipes from Chef John. For whole steaks, remember to let them rest for a few minutes after cooking so they retain their juices, then cut against the grain (the direction of the muscle fibers) for even more tender slices.

Read the original article on All Recipes.