The Best Way to Save Overcooked Steak
In theory, grilling up steaks is easy, but it's equally as easy to mess up. It only takes a couple of minutes of inattention or an underlying worry that the steak is undercooked to wait for "Just a little bit longer." The next thing you know, there's a hunk of tough, overcooked steak on your plate.
When given the choice of having your steak come out undercooked or overcooked, always choose the former.
Saving undercooked steak is a straightforward process. You only need to put the undercooked steak back on the grill or pop it into the oven to cook a little further. Overcooked steak, on the other hand, requires more radical solutions.
It's more than fine when it's a personal taste, but sometimes steaks are so overcooked they slide right past "well-done" into "am I eating char?" territory. This kind of steak is left to smoke for hours too long or seared on a hot surface for more than 10 minutes (How?).
How to Tell Your Steak Is Overcooked?
Overcooked steak tends to be solid light gray all the way through, flavorless, dry, and feels like chewing a bundle of tough muscle fibers. It detracts from the sensory experience and can make eating your steak a painstaking and laborious task.
Raw meat is essentially made up of protein, fat, and liquid. When raw meat encounters heat, the proteins in the meat will firm up, the fat will break down, and the liquid will spread throughout the meat. When you first start cooking a steak, it gains flavor and moisture from the seasonings and oil you used and will produce more of its own juices. There will come a point where it reaches the perfect internal temperature. It means your steak is at optimum juiciness. You want to take your steak off the heat source right before this point so it can continue cooking internally while resting. If you continue to cook your steak after this point, the moisture will start to evaporate, and you will lose the flavor in your steak with it.
Your steak will end up far from tender and juicy, if not completely burnt.
Beware of ordering well-done steaks when you're eating out.
Your cut of meat might not be as fresh as the restaurant would like you to think it is. That is because once a steak is cooked all the way through, you won't be able to taste the difference between fresh meat and stale meat. It's an excellent way for some places to clear up inventory.
How to Save Overcooked Steak?
Your overcooked steak is tough and chewy because of a lack of its natural liquid and fat, so here are some ways to infuse liquids and fats into your steak.
Sauce Saves the Day
Covering your overcooked steak with a thick sauce or gravy will help balance out the dryness and make up for its lack of flavor. Preferably, the sauce is also warm. Serving the steak warm is important, as cold steak gets even tougher.
Simmer In Liquid
Warm some water or broth in a pan with some barbeque sauce and let your steak simmer. The barbecue sauce will help restore some flavor. Do not let the temperature get too high because you are aiming for the liquid to penetrate your steak without further cooking it. This should only take 1 to 2 minutes. Adding a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice would alter the flavor of your steak but help revive it.
Grind It Up
Only do this if your steak is nearly unsalvageable but too wasteful to throw away. Cut it into 1-inch pieces, toss into the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil and turn it into a semi-pureed beef filling. You can use it in pies, add it to pasta sauces, or turn it into savory dumplings.
Do not try to save overcooked steak by adding it to soup.
Your steak would come out tougher than when it went in. It all comes down to the cut of meat. Most cuts of beef we prepare as steak, such as strips, filets, and ribeyes contain more muscle that only toughens up the more you cook it. Only beef with a high concentration of collagen-rich connective tissue softens the more it is cooked, including the chuck eye steak, flank steak, or tri-tip steak, which is why they are often used in soups and stews.