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Old 07-18-2014, 12:05 AM   #1
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Question Cooking with oil? Dry food.

Every time I cook with oil, the meat whether steak, chicken, beef, etc, gets really dry, hard and condensed with oil by the time it's cooked. Doesn't occur with fish though, but it's great for cooking bacon, makes it very crispy.

Are there any solutions/techniques to prevent this? Without grilling or cooking.
I don't own a grill, but it too tends to get dry as well. Cooking either gets too dry or falls apart from too much steam(tastes uncooked).

I run the stove(heat) at around 3.5-4.5/10. I use either canola or vegetable oil. Do I cook at a higher temperature with less oil?

Much thanks to all answers!

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Old 07-18-2014, 04:49 AM   #2
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Question

I wonder whether it is how you are frying it....do you sear the meat first, i.e. quickly let it sear on both sides on a high heat before then turning the heat down to cook through? This would keep the juices in the meat.

Also, if you salt the meat before frying it, it does tend to draw out the juices.


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Old 07-18-2014, 09:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 333xForEveR View Post
Every time I cook with oil, the meat whether steak, chicken, beef, etc, gets really dry, hard and condensed with oil by the time it's cooked. Doesn't occur with fish though, but it's great for cooking bacon, makes it very crispy.

Are there any solutions/techniques to prevent this? Without grilling or cooking.
I don't own a grill, but it too tends to get dry as well. Cooking either gets too dry or falls apart from too much steam(tastes uncooked).

I run the stove(heat) at around 3.5-4.5/10. I use either canola or vegetable oil. Do I cook at a higher temperature with less oil?

Much thanks to all answers!
Creative's post sounds about right.

Also, are you using too much oil? You only need to lubricate the pan, not deep fry the meat :). With some types of pan you are better oiling the steak rather than pouring oil into the pan.

Perhaps you are over-cooking the steak?

What cut are you frying? IMEx supermarkets often offer some nameless bit of meat as "Frying Steak". It may be cheaper, but it's often rubbish. I'm in the UK and our carcasses are cut slightly different to yours but I'm sure some of the others on DC will be able to advise you on good, tender , tasty steak. Sometimes spending a little more is an economy. Even cheap steak is very expensive if you can't eat it when it's cooked!
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:17 AM   #4
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I'm going to take it that you intend to cook WITH oil, not IN oil. In other words, not deep drying. First, little or no oil is needed to cook most meats. Meat will not stick in most cookware, if your technique is right. Essentially, it's ALL non-stick cookware.

The comment about oiling the steak is right. You usually don't need more than that.

Dry the meat. You may salt it well ahead of time and draw moisture from near the surface. Salt simply will not "dry out" meat. It won't penetrate deeply unless less left in brine for a very long time. That can improve tenderness (not from moisture but from the salt's effect on cell structure) but is not really part of your problem here. But drawing some moisture from the surface helps, because when moisture leaves the meat, it tends to boil, rather than brown. (Remember, water can't hotter than 212F in normal atmosphere.)

This goes hand in hand with having a hot enough pan. There are two reasons for high heat. One is that you do want moisture in the surface to be immediately driven off as vapor, so there's no boiling effect limiting the heat at the meat surface. The other is that very high heat is needed to brown the surface without overcooking the interior. Thus, you can't do thin steaks well at home, because you don't have enough heat, and should buy thick cuts. (Restaurants have massive heat and can do thin steaks.)

When frying meat, you must not "mess with the meat." Drop it onto the hot pan surface and LEAVE IT ALONE. It will release just fine when it's well browned. If it resists a gentle attempt to lift, it's not ready. Stirring it around and forcing it up will release water and then you'r back to boiled meat. (This is different from grilling, where some do recommend frequent turning.)

And, as previously stated, if you intend to pan cook steak, you have to buy naturally tender cuts, filet, ribeye, etc., or take chemical or mechanical means of tenderizing or slice very thin, as with fajitas. The "tougher" cuts are more flavorful but have more connective tissue on account of the work they do on behalf of the animal, and they are just as tender as ribeye, but they need long cooking at lower temperatures to convert the collagen to gelatin. Braise them. (Braising it essentially boiling with partial immersion, so the temperature is held far lower than a hot pan surface.)

Without having more details from you, I'd say cut back on the oil, raise the heat (until the little oil you have used shimmers), and use a meat thermometer so you know when you hit the interior temperature target, which is the measure of how done it is. Medium rare is where most people like their steak, and that's 130F - 135F. People who cook the same steaks all day on the same equipment can judge how done by look and feel. I depend on the thermometer.

Chicken very easily gets tough and dry. It's rather a delicate meat, and when I pan fry it, I let it come to room temperature. It also tends to have a more irregular surface then steak, so I use more oil to increase contact. But it's still hard to get right and does better deep fried or oven roasted. I think chicken is the most commonly overcooked meat among moderately experienced cooks.

You mention fish and bacon. Fish are not always fighting gravity and so have a different and naturally tender muscle structure. You can easily overcook them, but they will fall apart before they toughen. (Shellfish, though, can become tough.) And bacon is thin and is properly done when it is "super well done," and is more than half fat, anyway. Bacon doesn't have to tender, because it's crisp and thin.

See if any of this sounds right, because it sounds to me like you're more cooking in oil at relatively low temperature, which is little different from boiling, and boiled steak is pretty awful.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:21 AM   #5
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If your chicken and beef are dry and hard, you are overcooking them over low heat. Heat your pan on 6-8, add just enough oil to coat the bottom, place the meat into the pan once the oil is hot and shimmering in the pan. leave the meat unmolested in the pan for 2-3 minutes then flip and repeat. If it's a thicker piece of meat, turn the heat way down to 3-4 and cover the pan for a few minutes to cook it through.

Your best friend here will be a digital instant read thermometer. When chicken reaches an internal temperature of 161F, it's done. Cooking it further will make it dry and hard. Beef is medium at 140F. Remove the meat from the pan and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. NEVER cut into the meat to see if it's done. All the juices will run out.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:33 AM   #6
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Andy,

That resting thing is something I've been rethinking since I read this:


I've been foregoing the "rest period." Not so much because I don't think anything's happening but because of two factors. One is that meat cut immediately is not going to lose so much moisture than it will become dry. The second is that, with a rest period, you have to consider carryover cooking time and pull the meat early. Not only is is rather unpredictable, but the meat cools. I've started cooking until it's on the target temperature and carving and serving immediately. So far, I'm happy with it. And they made a point with me when they pointed out that we don't cut our steaks into pieces all all at once, so it's going to rest anyway on the plate.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:37 AM   #7
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I've noticed that resting does not prevent loss of juices, just reduces it a bit. I don't let it cool enough to be unappealing on the plate.

Proteins contract when heat is applied and juices are squeezed out. The real question is, do those juices get reabsorbed as the protein cools. Maybe some, but not all.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:40 AM   #8
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If your meat is hard and dry you are overcooking it.

I agree with the others' recommendation to use less oil, higher heat and avoid overcooking by using a thermometer.

And definitely salt your meat before you cook it.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
Andy,

That resting thing is something I've been rethinking since I read this:


I've been foregoing the "rest period." Not so much because I don't think anything's happening but because of two factors. One is that meat cut immediately is not going to lose so much moisture than it will become dry. The second is that, with a rest period, you have to consider carryover cooking time and pull the meat early. Not only is is rather unpredictable, but the meat cools. I've started cooking until it's on the target temperature and carving and serving immediately. So far, I'm happy with it. And they made a point with me when they pointed out that we don't cut our steaks into pieces all all at once, so it's going to rest anyway on the plate.
I disagree. Especially with something like a medium rare or rare steak. If you cook your steak well done, then disregard this post all together.

Resting does more than control loss of juices. Its hard for me to explain.
So here are two pictures.
The one on the left was rested. The one on the right was not rested.

Remove steak rare and reserve to warm plate. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Your steak will look like the one on the left.
Results may vary. So, it might take some practice to get your steak exactly the way you like it.

Note: Pictures taken from internet for examples.
Attached Images
  
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:06 AM   #10
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I agree with the over cook theory considering the information we have to solve the tough hard meat problem. "Condensed with oil" makes me think the cooking it too long in low temperature oil. It almost sounds my my mother-in-law's method.
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