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To poke or not to poke

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Larry Greenly

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To poke or not to poke

by Larry Greenly » Sat May 27, 2006 11:36 am

What's the real truth about using a fork to turn a steak? Is it just an urban legend not to use a fork because "all the juices will leak out"?

It's my understanding that steaks are not like a water-filled balloon--where a poke can drain the juices--but connective tissue that will allow only a few drops to leak from the immediate area. And in the short time it takes to cook a steak, a few drops won't make any difference anyway.

So, what's your take?
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Robin Garr

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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Robin Garr » Sat May 27, 2006 12:38 pm

I agree with you, Larry. Now, that being said, I'm not sure there's any real <i>need</i> to poke a steak - it's generally easy to flip it with tongs or a spatula - so I generally don't punch holes in it. But I don't see the thing leaking out just because you stick a fork in it.
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by ChefCarey » Sat May 27, 2006 3:18 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:What's the real truth about using a fork to turn a steak? Is it just an urban legend not to use a fork because "all the juices will leak out"?

It's my understanding that steaks are not like a water-filled balloon--where a poke can drain the juices--but connective tissue that will allow only a few drops to leak from the immediate area. And in the short time it takes to cook a steak, a few drops won't make any difference anyway.

So, what's your take?


I never use a fork and would scalp one of my students if they were to do so. While one or two holes probably would not affect the moisture content that much, I do see people standing over grills constantly poking and turning steaks - they *have* to be dried out. While we're on the subject of "turning," the steak should only be moved when absolutely necessary. We move the steak three times - insuring diamond-shaped grill marks on both sides. Why both sides? Because we can pick the side that looks best for presentation.
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Larry Greenly » Sat May 27, 2006 4:40 pm

I never use a fork and would scalp one of my students if they were to do so. While one or two holes probably would not affect the moisture content that much, I do see people standing over grills constantly poking and turning steaks - they *have* to be dried out.

Your scalping aside, turning a steak three times, then, with a fork shouldn't affect the juiciness of a steak. In fact, it would be interesting to do a blind taste test to see if they *have* to be dried out from using a fork. I could see where constantly turning steaks until the juices are cooked out could make a difference, though.
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Bob Ross

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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Bob Ross » Sat May 27, 2006 5:10 pm

Maybe I'm losing count, or you have a diamond shaped grill, but don't you have to turn four times, Chef? Regards, Bob
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Robin Garr » Sat May 27, 2006 5:22 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Maybe I'm losing count, or you have a diamond shaped grill, but don't you have to turn four times, Chef?


Think again, Bob ... put the meat down to get the first set of stripes. Turn 90 degrees to get the criss-cross. Turn it over to stripe the other side. Turn that side 90 degrees to get <i>its</i> criss-cross. A total of four movements, but the first one doesn't count as a "turn." :)
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Bernard Roth

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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Bernard Roth » Sat May 27, 2006 7:12 pm

You know, there is this device that is a long handled spear with a pigtail curl at the tip that is used for flipping steaks on a grill. You put the tip under on edge of the steak, lift and flip.

If you use a fork, hopefully you have a fatty edge on the steak... Stick the tines into the fat, lift and flip. you won't lose any bloody juice that way.
Regards,
Bernard Roth
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Bob Ross

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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Bob Ross » Sat May 27, 2006 7:47 pm

Interesting, Chef. I think of it as "four", but probably should be "five' or maybe "six".

I counted putting it on the grill as one "turn" because I season the top of the raw piece, then turn it over and place it on the grill. [1]

Next I turn the piece 45 degrees to get the diamond on the down side. Season the up side. [2]

Next I turn the piece over and place it on the grill. [3]

Turn that side 45 degrees and finish cooking. [4]

Take it off the grill, check the bototm to see which side looks nicer and plate. If original side looks better [5]. If the second side to cook looks better, I turn it over again. [6] :-)

But this is just funning -- I really agree with you.

Got confused actually because after they taught me the technique you describe at CIA, I grilled steaks that way for a couple of years.

Then I read McGee. Now I turn our steaks many times -- every 15 seconds or so -- slow cooking and more flavorful. But that's only worthwhile for two steaks at a time, of course. Not real production.

Regards, Bob
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by ChefCarey » Sun May 28, 2006 10:24 am

>Then I read McGee. Now I turn our steaks many times -- every 15 seconds or so -- slow cooking and more flavorful. But that's only worthwhile for two steaks at a time, of course. Not real production.

Interesting, I don't recall reading that in On Food and Cooking - have The Curious Cook lying around, but it is in a large stack I've yet to get to. However, it makes sense in that the way I keep the juices in a roast chicken is by frequently roatating it in the oven, battling gravity as it were...

Robin, you were right on in your explanation of the three movements (crescendo building to a coda, of course) - Bob, not to make a fine point (that phrase always follwed immediately by someone making a fine point, of course,) but I said "move" not, "turn." :)
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Randy Buckner

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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Randy Buckner » Sun May 28, 2006 12:39 pm

What's the real truth about using a fork to turn a steak? Is it just an urban legend not to use a fork because "all the juices will leak out"?


I poke the hell outta them! :twisted: I've never had a complaint yet.
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by ChefCarey » Sun May 28, 2006 1:50 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:
What's the real truth about using a fork to turn a steak? Is it just an urban legend not to use a fork because "all the juices will leak out"?


I poke the hell outta them! :twisted: I've never had a complaint yet.


No doubt because you bear arms.
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Re: To poke or not to poke

by Randy Buckner » Sun May 28, 2006 1:53 pm

No doubt because you bear arms.


Large caliber.... 8)

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