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tough steaks from cryovac strip loin


thock
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Hello, everyone, I'm new to posting here, though I've been lurking for a few years. I've learned a lot, and now I'm hoping to learn some more...about my strip steaks, to begin with...

I bought a strip loin at the local Price Chopper (supermarket in metro KC area, where I live) in early December. It was cryovac, and they cut it into steaks for me. I brought it home and vac packed it with my FoodSaver, stuck it in the deep freeze and forgot about it until the day before yesterday. I usually buy the cryovac stuff from Costco, but this was cheaper, so I thought I'd try it out.

I took two steaks out of the freezer and defrosted them overnight in the fridge, in the bag. I took them out of the fridge about an hour before dinnertime, then seared them in a hot cast iron skillet, put pepper on them, then stuck them in the oven at 450 for 3-4 minutes a side. They turned out about medium-rare.

We put some salt on the steaks and dug in. They were TOUGH. Very tough. And pretty tasteless, too.

I went back to that store, today, and talked with the butcher. He remembered the sale they'd had back in December and when I told him what the problem was, he said it was probably select, rather than choice. I hadn't noticed that they had both in the case, but sure enough, they do.

So, my question is, is there anything I can do to make these edible, or should I resign myself to grinding them into burger meat? They weren't particularly expensive for strip, at $3.99/lb, but that's a bit pricey for burger, in my opinion, and I'm guessing I'd have to add fat to the grind to make them better. Add that to the fact that I don't have a good grinder, and, well...other options would be welcome.

I'm sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere, before, but I searched, and couldn't find any topics that seemed appropriate for this question.

Thanks in advance!

Tracy

Tracy

Lenexa, KS, USA

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Hi thock, and welcome to eG Forums!

Absent a grinder, your best bet might be chili or some other sort of stew. But the grading process is about marbling, rather than connective tissue (which is what makes tougher cuts appropriate for slow cooking), so I wouldn't cook the meat too long, or it will be dry and tasteless.

Brown the meat, but leave it out of the mixture until relatively late. Then add it, let it warm up, and serve.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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If you cut the steak wafer thin (use a mandoline or slicer if you have one) you could put it in some Thai marinade and make a delicious Thai Beef salad.

Or again slice it and place it in a tasty broth for some nice noodle soup.

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Here are my thoughts. The problem with toughness in steaks has alot to do with age. You can take a choice or select striploin steak with no age on it and it will be tough. But, take that same steak and age it properly and it can become a thing of beauty.

At my restaurant we buy Sterling Silver beef that come to us with a minimum of 5 weeks age and I have a rotation going that I know to buy enough ahead to get at least another 1-2 weeks of age on the striploins.

I am sure that aging of meat has been addressed somewhere here before and it is simple. Aging makes meat better, but there is a limit. You cannot just infinately age a piece of meat. I would suggest to plan ahead if your steaks are in vac pac bags and take them out a week before you want/need them. Keep them on the bottom shelf at the back of your fridge and just let them be. I do this with meat all the time at home to give it a bit more age. If they are properly cryovac'd you could probably leave them for 10-14 days..but they need to be sealed really well and alot of people are hesitant to do that.

Try the aging thing and see how it goes. I'm sure it will only make them better. Good luck! and keep us informed.

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Mechanically speaking, if you want to make tough meat tender, you can grind it, slice it thin across the grain, dice it small or pound it thin. So if you have a tough piece of strip loin, which is not going to do well with braising (another approach for tenderizing tough meat), you should probably do something that utilizes one of the mechanical approaches. (You can also use a tenderizing marinade, but I've had limited luck with marinades as tenderizers.) Or, if you have a lot of product, try each approach. Me, I'd probably slice it thin and stir fry it. That's what I did last time I had tough beef in the freezer. Plus, if it's already frozen, you can defrost it only part way before slicing. For those of us with mediocre knife skills and mediocre knives, semi-frozen meat is much easier to slice very thin.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Odds are if you bought it from a grocer it had sufficient wet age on it to tenderize it enough to prevent that kind of toughness. Odds are you just got a select grade of beef and it wasn't a very good one. Sometimes all that makes the difference is the animal itself.

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Odds are if you bought it from a grocer it had sufficient wet age on it to tenderize it enough to prevent that kind of toughness. .

I used to buy cryovac loins and either dry, and or wet age them. The pack/kill date was without fail, very close to the date I bought them . often just a day or two..YMMV however

Bud

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Odds are if you bought it from a grocer it had sufficient wet age on it to tenderize it enough to prevent that kind of toughness.

Most US beef is 'aged' only in the time it takes the truck to drive from the packer to the store. Very little US supermarket beef has any aging beyond the 4 days it takes rigor mortis to dissipate, and sometimes not even that.

If you froze them before the rigor was gone, that might be the problem. But assuming the rigor was gone, further aging would be unlikely to redeem a very tough cut of meat. Wet or dry aging can't add marbling to poorly marbled beef and can't break down connective tissue. Aging is a technique for making good steak, better.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Thanks, everyone! I think I'll try a little of everything, one steak at a time. I have a whole strip loin, minus two 3/4" steaks, so I have a lot to experiment with. I'll try and post back here on the results, but it will take a while to get through all that meat, I think.

I like the idea of aging it in the fridge. I also like the idea of stir-fry. I have a recipe for pepper steak (steak with peppers) that it would probably be good in.

I don't have the ability, I don't think, to cook sous-vide, so I'll take that one under advisement.

I wish I had kept the package sticker with the dates on it. That'll teach me. But I will make an effort to pay more attention in the future.

Again, thanks!

Tracy

Tracy

Lenexa, KS, USA

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, experiment one is done, and it seems to have worked! I took one of the packages out of the freezer and stuck it in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (can't remember how long). We cooked the steaks the other night, and they tasted better and weren't tough. My SO grilled them, this time, instead of pan searing and finishing in the oven, and mine was rare. It tasted pretty good!

Of course, I'm still anxious to try the other experiments.

Tracy

Tracy

Lenexa, KS, USA

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