Salting Steaks

There are different recommendations on the technique of salting a steak before cooking. This review assumes one will only use salt and pepper as their seasoning for the steak. If one wishes to add other rubs, check the salt content and adjust the pre-cook salting amount to compensate for the additional salt in the rub. If just adding herbs or salt-free seasonings, the adjustment isn’t necessary.

Why salt?
The most obvious answer is for flavor and salting immediately prior to grilling will accomplish that easily. It is well known that brining meats (pork and chicken immediately come to mind) in a salty solution will increase the moisture in the final product. The same principle works with salting a steak. Research by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (author of “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science Today”) in the blog “Serious Eats” shows that either immediate salting or salting, then resting for >40 min. are the best techniques (actually overnight, uncovered in the fridge was optimum). Reference:

Quoting from the blog:
“Here’s what’s going on.

  • Immediately after salting the salt rests on the surface of the meat, undissolved. All the steak’s juices are still inside the muscle fibers. Searing at this stage results in a clean, hard sear.
  • Within 3 or 4 minutes the salt, through the process of osmosis, will begin to draw out liquid from the beef. This liquid beads up on the surface of the meat. Try to sear at this point and you waste valuable heat energy simply evaporating this large amount of pooled liquid. Your pan temperature drops, your sear is not as hard, and crust development and flavor-building Maillard browning reactions are inhibited.
  • Starting at around 10 to 15 minutes, the brine formed by the salt dissolving in the meat’s juices will begin to break down the muscle structure of the beef, causing it to become much more absorptive. The brine begins to slowly work its way back into the meat.
  • By the end of 40 minutes, most of the liquid has been reabsorbed into the meat. A small degree of evaporation has also occurred, causing the meat to be ever so slightly more concentrated in flavor”.

My experiment: I started with a 1.25# choice ribeye. I heavily salted it with Kosher salt.


I then vacuum-sealed it and placed it in the fridge for 2 hours. When preparing for cooking, I submerged the bag in a sink of hot (110*) water for about 45 minutes (hot-tubbing). When I removed it for seasoning with Cluck & Squeal Beef Specific rub, I checked and found it had an internal temp of 92*. (Note: This is where I warned about too much salt – I learned from my mistake).


Large BGE at 300-325* dome, but my Grill Grates temped at 500* with an IR thermometer. I seared about 90 sec on each side, then using tongs and a mitt, I seared all the edges of the steak on the ridges of the Grill Grates.


I removed when the internal temperature was 125*, divided and served with sautéed spinach and mushrooms plus a green salad.


Results:  Other than being slightly more salty than I prefer (not compensating for the salt in the rub), I could clearly taste a rich flavor deep inside the very juicy meat, not just on the surface. This will become my steak-cooking technique for the future.

Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1.25# ribeye steak
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Steak rub (Optional)

(1) Heavily coat both sides of the steak with Kosher salt (reduce amount if planning to use a rub that contains salt).

(2) Place in refrigerator for a minimum of 40 minutes and up to overnight (it will not dry out if left uncovered). If plan to grill immediately after salting, also add freshly ground black pepper and/or any steak rub.

(3) Rest at room temperature for an hour or can hot-tub in a bag in hot water prior to grilling.

(4) Use your favorite steak grilling technique and cook to your preferred doneness. Enjoy a much juicier, flavorful steak!

Wet-aged steaks

What is wet aging of steaks and why should one consider it?

Wet-aging is the process of keeping a steak (or a large cut like a whole tenderloin, whole rib roast, or 3-4 bone prime rib) for a specified time period in a critically temperature-controlled environment. Enzymes in the meat will tenderize it gradually over the time period. At that point the meat can be cooked or frozen for later use.

As an experiment, I had purchased 4 one-pound ribeyes from Sam’s Club on Jan. 4, 2016. I cooked one, then individually vacuum-sealed the other three. I cooked one more after 4 weeks, then one after 8 weeks and the last one tonight – a total of 14 weeks. My goal was to determine the ideal time for wet-aging a 1-1.25# ribeye to improve the tenderness, without allowing the meat to get over-tender (a mushy texture). I was concerned that 12+ weeks might be too long.

Results: We noticed a progressive increase in tenderness between all the ribeyes, and were pleasantly surprised tonight to find the 14-week steak was extremely tender, yet maintained an acceptable texture.

Note the most important food safety requirement for wet-aging meat is the ability to control the temperature in the environment (refrigerator). I use an outdoor fridge that is rarely opened. I keep a refrigerator thermometer (Kroger) on the shelf with the meat and strive for 32-34* at all times. I check every couple of days and ‘bump’ the temperature controller up or down as needed. I also keep some bottled water on the shelf to observe for any ice formation. I recommend vacuum-sealing the meat and not leaving it in the store’s sealed container than might contain bacteria. For large cuts (tenderloin, rib roast, etc) it is ok to leave it in the original thick, vacuum-sealed cryovac, as long as it has remained sealed tightly.

(In another post I will discuss dry-aging and the combination of wet and dry aging).

If one is interested in improving the tenderness of store-bought steaks, I can recommend 14 weeks as the optimum time for wet-aged ribeyes that are about 1-1.5 inches thick, following the food safety notes above.

The steak from tonight is pictured, plated with rutabaga fries and oven-roasted zucchini slices, plus a salad of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes (recipe below).


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1-1/4#  wet-aged ribeye steak
Cluck and Squeal Beef Specific rub (or favorite seasoning)

(1) Prepare the grill for a hot, direct cook.
(2) Season and allow the steak to come to room temperature (45-60 minutes)
(3) Grill 3-4 minutes on each side until it reaches your preferred doneness – internal temp of 125* (medium rare) or 130* (medium).
(4) Cover and rest for 5-8 minutes before serving.

Hanger Steak


I finally carried my new MiniMax (MM) Egg to Oxford this weekend. It will replace a small egg that will come home to Madison.  For the inaugural cook on the MM, I thawed out a hanger steak we had purchased at The Farmer’s Market in Oxford. They sell beef and pork that is processed at Stan’s on highway 6 near Batesville. The pork is locally raised and the beef is aged Angus.

Hanger steak? What is that?  Actually it comes from the part of the diaphragm that is closest to the spine and tenderloin. The outer, tougher part of the diaphragm is called the skirt steak. Hanger steaks are difficult to get unless using a custom butcher, but they are one of the most tender cuts from the cow (3rd most tender, I believe) and have lots of beef flavor.

I seasoned this steak with Cluck and Squeal’s “Beef Specific” rub and let it come to room temperature on the counter for about an hour.


I prepared the MiniMax for a direct cook at 500*.


Since this was the inaugural cook, one can appreciate the new, white ceramics that will soon become nice and seasoned.


The steak was flipped after about 3 minutes, then removed when the internal temperature was 130*.


It was rested for 5 minutes, while the asparagus finished roasting in the oven, then plated with the asparagus.


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

Hanger steak (3/4 to 1 pound)
Cluck and Squeal Beef Specific Rub (or preferred steak rub)

(1) Liberally apply the rub to both sides of the steak, patting it in. Let it rest on the counter for 45 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature.
(2) Prepare the Egg (grill) for a hot (450-500*) direct cook.
(3) Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side and remove when internal temperature reaches 125* (medium rare), 130* (medium), or your desired doneness. Cover with foil and rest for 5-8 minutes.
(4) Important! Slice against the grain for the most tender results.

Hot-tubbed Steak


There are multiple ways to cook an excellent steak on the grill. In today’s post I will describe one of my favorite, simple ways to produce a perfectly cooked steak using a technique called “hot-tubbing” combined with a quick, hot sear.

Hot tubbing’ is a po’ man’s version of Sous Vide, which is a recently popular home cooking method. Sous vide is French for ‘under vacuum’ and it involves placing vacuum-sealed foods (meat, chicken, fruit, vegetable, etc) in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time, then finishing the food on a grill, a griddle or a skillet. I will have more information in a subsequent post on the advantages and disadvantages of sous vide cooking.

Back to hot-tubbing….. Before I ever heard of sous vide, I saw many people on the BGE forum preheating their steaks in a water bath, then searing on the BGE. The principle being that you basically ‘cook’ the steak through and through during the water bath period, then only sear it at the end. The final result is a steak that is the same doneness from edge to edge – not one that is well done on the outside 1/4″ or so, then medium well, then medium rare in the middle. A hot-tubbed (or SV) steak is medium rare (or your choice of doneness) from the outside sear on one side to the sear on the opposite side.



The first step is to vacuum seal the steak. Many people have vacuum seal units like Food Saver, Game Saver, etc. they use for freezing steaks bought in quantity or cut from larger (sub primal) cuts like whole ribeye, tenderloin, or sirloin. In that case the steak is already in a vacuum bag, so it only needs to be thawed in the bag before hot tubbing. With a fresh steak, one can either use their vacuum sealer to bag it, or use a zip lock-style bag. With the zip lock bag, one seals all but about a 1/2″ corner, then submerges the bag into water, forcing the air to the top and quickly closes the bag before it goes completely under the water. The water pressure will collapse the bag around the steak and create an almost perfect vacuum bag. One can season the steak before it goes in the bag, or it can be seasoned after it comes out of the water bath prior to searing. If the bag tends to float, a small saucer on top of it will hold it under water.

The following pictures are from an 8-week, wet-aged ribeye steak I recently hot tubbed and seared on my Mini Egg.


My hot tap water is about 110*, so I usually mix it to get around 100* in my sink. The steak stays in the water bath for 45-60 minutes. In the meantime, I get the grill ready for a direct cook at 500-600*. I remove the steak from the bag (it usually measures 86-95* internal), season, then sear it for 2 minutes on each side. If it is not to my desired internal temperature, I will cook longer, flipping if one side starts to get too done. I might even close the top and bottom vents on the EGG and let it continue to cook until the desired doneness is reached. Hot-tubbed and sous vide steaks do not require a post-cook rest period and can be served immediately from the grill.


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1-1.25 pound steak (ribeye, sirloin, flat iron, etc)
Steak seasoning of choice

(1) If using a previously vacuum-sealed steak (thaw if frozen), place the bagged steak in a hot water bath (about 105*) for 45-60 minutes. If using a fresh steak, apply the seasonings, then either vacuum seal or evacuate the air in a zip lock bag by submerging under water, forcing out the air before sealing. Place in the water bath like above.
(2) Prepare grill for a direct, hot cook (500-600*).
(3) Remove the steak from the bag, season if needed, and then place it on a hot grill for 2 minutes per side. If not quite done to your preference, leave it on until done, flipping a time or two to prevent burning, or shut down the grill (close the top and bottom vents) until it’s done.
(4) The steak can also be seared on a griddle (grill or stove) or in a heavy skillet if desired.
(5) You can serve immediately, or cover and rest until ready to serve.