Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To season or not to season, that is the question.


Upon purchase of our new house, I wanted to have a few family members (a couple that isn't actual family, but feels so) over for a "soft opening" of our home kitchen.  The story goes this way:

It was a muggy early morning after a steady nighttime rain.  The lingering haze blocked the sun from shining in our bedroom window.  Regardless, the peaking light seemed to hit me right in the eyes.  I stirred for a second, but finally gave in to the restlessness in my legs.  Dragging myself out of the bed, I realized that it was a day for MEAT.  There was a burning question I had to have answered: when do I season the meat?

Ok, my culinary noir attempt is over.  The real question is, when do certain meats need to be seasoned.  I arrived at this lesson from an article in Food and Wine magazine.  They detailed four meats and the timeframe in which they need to be seasoned.  They detailed pork, beef, chicken, and lamb.  I will be doing sort of a series on the topic.  I will take each meat and season at different times with salt and pepper to see which results in the tastiest meat. 

This time was beef.  I seasoned four thick cut bone-in rib-eyes, about 24 ounces each (I like my meat big (thats what she said)).  I seasoned the first about 12 hours before grill, the second 6 hours before, and the last an hour before grill time.  I seasoned the fourth as my wife liked: I like sleeping in my bed at night.  

As it turned out, the meat seasoned 12 hours before had a great flavor with fantastically salty fat run-off.  The fat run-off seasoned the entire surface of the steak and was absorbed by the surrounding meat.  The six hour steak was also well flavored, but did not have as nice of a crust on the surface, nor did it have the flavor in the meat around the bone.  The steak seasoned for an hour before grilling had the flavor of a well-seasoned steak, but the fat was not as flavorful.  (Yes, you should eat some of the fat on a steak, it is where flavor is born.)  

So, as far as beef goes, the longer the season, the tastier the final product.  There was not a huge difference between the 12 and 6, not the 6 and the 1, but it there was a noticeable difference.  The 12 hour was far better than the 1 hour season, however.  I doubt there would be much of a difference if one would let a steak sit while seasoned longer than 12 hours.  But, I may try it.  Next episode, LAMB.


  1. I can't see the picture :(
    But dang that steak was good, and this is coming from someone who barely touches beef. The seasoning is what made it, yet I am not sure which steak mine was, the 12hr, 6 hr or on the grill...I guess we'll never know. :)

  2. What seasoning was it? What kind of grill? Any other prep?