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Joined: 17 Dec 2006
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:43 am    Post subject: FrankenSteak Reply with quote

Long ago, as I went from occasional cook to a more devoted cook, one of the first challenges I found was cooking a good steak. I started out cooking really bad steaks but with the help of Julia Child's writings and other resources, I've (almost) perfected several styles of steak cookery. However it seems that as soon as I arrived at this point, beef prices went through the roof. The once or twice a week variety of cuts became much more expensive, so that they became viable only once or twice a month.

So now occasionally my mind turns to the culinary equivalent of the old alchemists' dreams of turning lead into gold. Knowing what I know about the characteristics of the cuts that that I like, could I not deconstruct pieces of lesser cuts, apply what I'd learned about cooking real steaks, and somehow construct a hybrid super-steak?

Well Wink , not as of yet.

My first attempt was almost as instructive as it was amusing. The cheaper chuckeye steak has always been a welcome stand-in for a 'real' steak at our house. It's much less expensive, responds to cooking much the same way as a ribeye, has all the flavor, but, alas, is not quite as tender.

Okay, I reasoned, we just need some sort of extreme tenderization process. We want the meat to just fall apart when a knife comes anywhere near it. Thus it came to be that a chuckeye steak was uncerimoniously introduced to the whirling blades of a food processor. The result? Meat paste. Now that's tender (Bwaa Ha ha ha...!).

But a little bit too amorphous.. so, the blob was packed into a ring mold and then put in the freezer for 20 minutes to let it firm up a tad. Now, time to give it the standard tenderloin treatment - cast iron skillet - directly on gas grill set on 'kill' - infrared thermo confirms surface temp of 765 degrees F. Time to sear. One minute on each side and then into a 425 degree oven to finish for a few minutes. Let rest, and voila....

....meat styrofoam.

The seasoned seared crust was actually quite promising, but it was absolutely hollow. Under the intense heat, the insides had shriveled, contracted and left an unpallatable void within. An interesting result, but nowhere near success.

After some weeks of reflection, I decided to give this dead horse another whack. This time I reasoned, I'd reverse the process and go to the other extreme. So I again obliterated a perfectly good chuckeye steak in the Cuisinart, but his time formed the paste and froze it. Now with the shape preserved, I cryovac'd it in the FoodSaver. Then dropped the bag into 135 degree F water for an hour or two. The gentler sous-vide cookery would let the, um, mess come together before searing. The result was more successful I guess, if I was going for a burger. It wasn't good, but it appeared to be the starting point for a possibly good burger. But not a steak.

I've not given up yet, but I think this basic method is not on the right track. Instead, I think it would involve careful microbutchery to arrange fibers and fat in just the right fashion - then perhaps compressed into a long tube from which steaks could be cut. Perhaps a binder named something like mono-gluto-golly-mate would be needed.

So, anyway, there are two paths that are dead-ends. But I still think that there's gold down one of the many paths that FrankenCookery might point to.
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Joined: 21 Dec 2005
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject: On a related note... Reply with quote

Did anyone else catch the Mythbusters episode on tenderizing steaks through the use of (a) high explosives (b) a 30-foot air cannon and (c) a washing machine full of ball bearings?

The discussion board at the Mythbusters site holds interest for most of us here on this topic:
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Joined: 17 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm....We have an extra clothes dryer lying around. I wonder how much dry ice it would take to.... Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:02 am    Post subject: FRANKEN STEAK Reply with quote

The spouthern solution is to "cube it" hit with skikey obeject or buy a special machine. bread and deep fry for a good old southern fried steak.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like you need to take up braising or stewing.
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Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you grind it up, you might as well buy hamburger. All structure is lost.

Here is a good web page about tenderizing options:

The one I am experimenting with right now isn't mentioned: injecting the enzymes into the meat with a meat syringe. I'll let you know how it turns out.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:02 pm    Post subject: tenderizing steaks Reply with quote

We've used this method and it seems to work fairly well.
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