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Grilling Beef Steak

Bringing steaks to room temperature before cooking?


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Home Cooking Grilling Beef Steak

Bringing steaks to room temperature before cooking?

foreverhungry | | Jul 8, 2010 07:32 AM

The rule of thumb is to let steaks come to room temperature before grilling them. And while I have done this myself countless times, the logic behind it escapes me. Yes, something about more even cooking. But with steaks, isn't that what we precisely want to avoid - even cooking between the exterior and interior?

Here's my logic: In general, folks like their steaks medium rare, about 130 - 135F. And the exterior of the steak should be nicely seared, which occurs at high temperature. So there is a big temperature difference between the exterior and interior of the steak (about 300F) - the exterior temperature changes a lot, while the interior temperature changes relatively little. Put another way, the steak has to be on the grill long enough to sear the exterior, but not so long as to raise the interior temp to more than 135F.

Given that, what is the logic in letting a steak come to room temperature, and thus raising the steak's interior temperature to 70F? The exterior temperature will increase very quickly once the steak goes on the grill regardless of it's starting temperature, so bringing the exterior temp to 70F is meaningless for searing purposes. But why speed up the process of bringing the interior temp up, when we want to avoid over-heating the interior?

So, recently, I took a 1 1/2" Strip, rubbed the exterior with a mixture of salt, pepper, and a little cornstarch, and put the steak in the freezer for about 15 minutes - enough to chill it, but certainly not enough to freeze it. I grilled it for a total of about 9 minutes. The result was a crusty seared exterior, and a medium-rare interior. Huh.

Any thoughts or comments? Does my logic sound completely daft? And what is the true logic behind bringing a steak to room temperature before grilling? (note - I get bringing big cuts of meat to room temp that get roasted, braised, or slow BBq-ed, those where there will be no or little difference between internal and external temperature...).