When it comes to steak, we all want the perfect balance of flavor and texture. One of the most important factors in achieving that perfectly juicy and tender steak is the presence of ‘redness.’ But what is the red in steak?
In this article, we will explore the mystery of the red in steak, how it affects the taste and texture of the meat, and some tips and tricks to get the most out of your steak experience. Let’s get started!
What Causes the Redness in Steak?
The redness in steak comes from a protein called myoglobin, which is found in the muscle tissue of animals. Myoglobin is responsible for binding oxygen, which is essential for the muscles to function properly. As a result, muscles that are used more frequently, such as those in the legs and thighs, contain more myoglobin and appear darker, while muscles that are used less, such as those in the back and loin, contain less myoglobin and appear lighter.
Therefore, the redness in steak is directly related to the amount of myoglobin present in the muscle. The more myoglobin, the darker and redder the meat will be.
The Different Types of Redness in Steak
Bright red steak is the result of freshly cut meat. The exposure of the meat to oxygen causes the myoglobin to bind with oxygen, which turns it bright red. This fresh, vibrant red is what we all look for when choosing our steaks in the store or at the butcher.
Dark red steak is the result of the presence of more myoglobin in the muscle tissue. This means that the animal’s muscles were used more frequently, resulting in a darker red color. Dark red steak is often associated with more flavor, as the increased myoglobin means there are more oxygen-binding sites for the meat to absorb and retain those essential flavors.
Brown red steak is the result of exposure to air or oxidation. While brown steak may not look as appetizing as bright, fresh steak, it is still edible and safe to consume. However, it is best to avoid eating brown steak as it may have an off-flavor caused by the oxidation.
Why is the Redness Important?
The redness in steak is not just for aesthetics, but it is also a sign of freshness and quality. Freshly cut, bright red steak is a good indication that the meat is fresh and has not been sitting in storage for too long. Dark red steak is a sign of overall quality, as the presence of more myoglobin suggests that the animal was healthy and active– two essential factors in producing high-quality meat.
Moreover, the redness in steak plays a crucial role in the meat’s overall flavor and texture. Myoglobin acts as a reservoir for flavors, meaning the more myoglobin present in the meat, the more flavors the meat will absorb and retain. Additionally, muscles that are used more frequently contain more connective tissue, which can result in tougher meat. The increased myoglobin in these muscles not only contributes to a darker red color but can also help break down the connective tissue, resulting in a more tender and juicy steak.
How to Choose the Best Redness in Your Steak?
Choosing the perfect redness in your steak ultimately depends on your personal preference. If you prefer a more mild flavor and tender steak, opt for bright red meat. However, if you like a more robust flavor and don’t mind a bit of chew, dark red steak is the way to go. It is best to avoid brown steak as it indicates that the meat has been exposed to air for too long and may not be safe to eat.
When choosing your steak, take the time to inspect the meat and look for that vibrant, fresh redness. Pay attention to the marbling in the meat, as this can also be an indication of the overall quality of the meat. Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for their recommendations, as they will likely have a good understanding of the different types of redness and how it impacts the meat’s flavor and texture.
Cooking Your Steak to Perfection
Now that you have chosen the perfect steak with the ideal redness, it’s time to cook it to perfection. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your steak is juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
Seasoning your steak properly can make all the difference. A good rule of thumb is to use around one teaspoon of salt per pound of meat, as this will help lock in the meat’s moisture and enhance the overall flavor. Additionally, allow your steak to come to room temperature before cooking, as this will help the meat cook more evenly.
The cooking method you choose will depend on your preference and the cut of the meat. For thicker cuts such as steak, grilling, broiling, or pan-searing are ideal as these methods cook the meat quickly and provide a good sear on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and tender. For thinner cuts such as flank steak, stir-frying or grilling over high heat for a short amount of time is ideal.
Cooking Times and Temperatures
The cooking time and temperature will vary depending on the cut and thickness of the meat, as well as your desired level of doneness. A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure your steak is cooked to perfection. Here are the recommended temperatures for different levels of doneness:
|Level of Doneness||Internal Temperature|
The redness in steak is not just for appearances, but it also indicates the freshness and quality of the meat, and plays a critical role in the overall flavor and texture. By understanding the different types of redness and their impact on the meat, you can choose the best steak for your preference, and cook it to perfection. Remember to experiment with different cuts and cooking methods to find your perfect steak.
- What is the red in steak?
- The red in steak comes from a protein called myoglobin, which is found in the muscle tissue of animals.
- What causes the different types of redness in steak?
- Bright red steak is the result of freshly cut meat, while dark red steak is the result of the presence of more myoglobin in the muscle tissue. Brown red steak is the result of exposure to air or oxidation.
- Why is the redness important in steak?
- The redness in steak is a sign of freshness and quality and plays a crucial role in the meat’s overall flavor and texture.
- How do you choose the best redness in your steak?
- Choosing the perfect redness in your steak ultimately depends on your personal preference, but bright red steak is great if you prefer a more mild flavor, while dark red steak is for those who like a more robust flavor and don’t mind a bit of chew.
- What are the recommended cooking times and temperatures for steak?
- The recommended internal temperatures for different levels of doneness are Rare: 120-130°F, Medium Rare: 130-140°F, Medium: 140-150°F, Medium Well: 150-160°F, and Well Done: 160-170°F.
 “What Makes Meat Red?”, The Spruce Eats, Accessed November 9, 2021, https://www.thespruceeats.com/making-meat-red-331443
 “How to Choose the Perfect Steak”, Tasting Table, Accessed November 9, 2021, https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/national/how-to-choose-the-perfect-steak
 “The Ultimate Guide to Steak”, Bon Appetit, Accessed November 9, 2021, https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/the-ultimate-guide-to-steak