Okay. I've been cooking my steaks sans salt, then salting just prior to eating for years, but a recent discussion on when to salt made me question whether it was habit or if I was doing the right thing.
Last night I had three very small filet mignons. USDA Prime from a whole tendrloin I had trimmed and cut myself. They were a tad over an inch thick. My cooking method was to sear in an very hot cast iron skillet with a film of olive oil, then pop them into a 350 degree oven for 4 1/2 minutes for medium rare. I salted one steak just prior to searing, the second immediately after removing from the oven but prior to resting, and the third one I did not salt until I was ready to eat.
Oh, and just for general information, as an accompaniment I nuked some really small fingerling potatoes for a minute, then sauteed then in their skins with an equal amount of washed but unpierced grape tomatoes in the pan drippings with a touch of cab, salt and pepper. Snuggled them up to the steaks with a little chopped parsley. I'm gonna do that again soon!
So here's what I found out:
Steak #!: Salted just prior to searing. After finishing the steak in the oven and allowing it to rest, it was NOT as tender as the other two. Being USDA Prime, I would have had to cook it to very well done to get tough meat, but it was definitely not as tender as the other two. Had a somewhat stringy and dry-ish texture to it.
Steak #2: Salted after removing from oven but before resting. It was wonderfully tender.
Steak #3: Salted prior to eating. Wonderfully tender, and for my taste buds, it had a much beefier flavor and the salt was more pleasing than on either of the other two steaks.
What kind of salt did I use? Kosher. It's what I always use for cooking. Normally I use sea salt for flavoring just prior to eating, but I wanted to use identical salt for an honest test.