June 27, 2024

Why Is My Steak Chewy? Tips To Tenderize Tough Steak

I know we’ve all been there – we spend hours tending to that perfect fire, carefully grilling what you thought was a premium cut of meat, only to be rewarded with a steak that’s tougher than leather.  But don’t hang up your asador tools just yet. In this guide, I’m spilling all my secrets to […]

Jason Pittock

June 27, 2024

I know we’ve all been there – we spend hours tending to that perfect fire, carefully grilling what you thought was a premium cut of meat, only to be rewarded with a steak that’s tougher than leather. 

But don’t hang up your asador tools just yet. In this guide, I’m spilling all my secrets to identify the reasons behind chewy steak and transforming even the toughest cuts into buttery masterpieces. Ready? 

Why Is My Steak Chewy?

One of the biggest culprits of a chewy, tough steak is overcooking. Going past your desired doneness can cause the muscle fibers to become rigid and tight, making it much harder to chew. Adjust your cooking timing and take the steak off the heat a little before it’s cooked to your liking, as the temperature will continue rising! 

And here are other reasons why your steak may turn up too chewy: 

Cut of Meat

The meat cut you choose plays a big role too. Tougher cuts with more connective tissue and muscle, like chuck or round steak, will naturally be chewier than buttery tenderloin. If you want tender steak, choose tender cuts or follow tenderizing tips for the tougher ones.

Not Resting Meat

Letting your steak rest after cooking is crucial for keeping it tender and juicy. If you slice into it right away, all those juices will end up on your plate instead of locked into the meat. Always let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting in.

Slicing Wrong Way

You’ll also want to be mindful of slicing against the grain. Slicing parallel to those long muscle fibers makes them harder to chew through. Instead, cut perpendicular to the grain for a much more tender bite.

Marinating Issues

A poorly prepared marinade could also spell chewiness. Too much acid can make the proteins contract and toughen up, and leaving it soaking too long can turn that steak unpleasantly mushy and dry.

Tips to Tenderize Tough Steak

So your steak turned out chewy and tough. No worries, it happens to the best of us! But don’t give up just yet. There are some easy tricks to avoid chewy steak in the future:

Pounding

First, you can try pounding to tenderize steak. Grab a meat mallet, a specialized meat tenderizer tool, or even the bottom of a heavy pan and whack that steak a few times to break down those tough muscle fibers. Go easy though, you don’t want to turn it into a flat patty.

Marinade

Next, try a marinade. Acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or wine work great to soften up meat. Even a simple salmuera can do the trick! Let your steak soak for at least 30 minutes, but no more than a few hours, or it might get mushy.

Also, a generous sprinkling of coarse salt can help break down proteins. Just rub it all over your steak and let it sit for an hour before cooking.

Slice It Thin

If everything else fails, you can try slicing it thin. Even the toughest steak is manageable when you cut it across the grain into thin strips. These are perfect for stir-fries or fajitas instead of Asado, though. 

Delicious Recipes for Tender Steak

When it comes to incredibly tender, melt-in-your-mouth steak, Argentina knows how to do it. Here I’m sharing with you some of my favorite beef tender steak recipes: 

Bife de Chorizo a la Parrilla (Grilled Sirloin Steak)

Argentina’s best sirloin steak should be grilled for a smoky flavor while staying unbelievably tender. Pair it with classic chimichurri sauce for an iconic asado experience. My YouTube channel has more recipes for sirloin tender steak and other cuts of meat! 

Entraña a la Plancha (Grilled Skirt Steak)

Skirt steak becomes exceptionally tender when cooked quickly over a raging hot heat, like an Argentine parrilla or an iron pan. Similarly, lomo (tenderloin) or vacío (brisket) can be made in the oven and marinaded with salt, pepper, and butter for mouthwatering perfection.

Matambre a la pizza

You can also cook flank steak like tenderloin when thinly pounded and rolled up with savory fillings. For example, you can prepare matambre relleno with spinach, eggs, and roasted peppers or as if it were a pizza—with cheese and tomato above. 

Let’s Cook Your Best Steak!

Enough talking about tender steak – it’s time to cook up your best one yet! Follow these simple tips to get the best way to cook steak and you’ll be slicing into a a tender piece of beef in no time.

  • Start with quality meat from your local carnicería or butcher. Look for well-marbled cuts with lots of that gorgeous fat striping throughout.
  • Take your steak out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp before cooking – this helps it cook evenly from edge to edge.
  • Get your Argentine parrilla, plancha, or cast iron skillet ripping hot for the best steak cook temp. You want an aggressive sear to lock in those juices.
  • Season simply but generously! A simple coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper let the beef’s natural flavors shine.
  • Use the flip plus rest method – sear undisturbed, flip once, then let it rest on a cutting board when it’s just undercooked to your liking.
  • If pan-searing, baste continuously with butter or beef tallow for an insanely crisp, flavorful exterior. For thicker cuts, start them in a hot oven and finish over direct high heat for a perfect medium-rare.
  • Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to distribute evenly. Finally, slice against the grain, and get ready for fork-tender beef with each bite!

Picking the Perfect Cut for Tender Steak

The cut of beef you select makes a huge difference when aiming for wonderfully tender steaks. Here’s what to look for at the butcher counter or meat market:

  • Go for cuts from the tenderloin like filet mignon or medallions. This is the most tender muscle on the entire animal with luscious, buttery fibers.
  • Ribeye is another supremely tender option, thanks to the abundant marbling throughout. 
  • Inspect the color – bright cherry red is an indicator of freshness and proper aging, while any browns or grays signal dryness and toughness.
  • Give the meat a poke. It should be quite firm but still have a little spongey bounce rather than being overly soft or hard.

There you have it—everything you need to banish chewy, disappointing steak from your life forever. From choosing the right cuts to prepping them properly, these tips will have you cranking out steaks so tender and juicy that you’ll be the envy of all your friends at the next asado. 

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Why Is My Steak Chewy? Tips To Tenderize Tough Steak
Article Name
Why Is My Steak Chewy? Tips To Tenderize Tough Steak
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Wondering why your steak is chewy? Discover the reasons behind tough steak and learn tips to tenderize it for a juicy and flavorful meal.
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Argentine Asado

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