It’s Christmas night and my stomach is screaming at me for food. I can’t think of anything to fill it with that would be a good idea at this point, but it’s making me think about lunch tomorrow.
I’ve mentioned my favorite sandwich before, that I like to eat at Christmas. To recap, it’s a teriyaki cube steak with sauteed mushrooms (butter, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper), bacon, muenster, and mozzarella all on a soft Kaiser roll. Well I’m having it tomorrow, but first I wanted to come up with a way of making it a little more tender and maybe more receptive to the teriyaki marinade. I’ve tried sous vide in the past and posted about the results, and it wasn’t the magic bullet I had hoped for.
Searches led me to multiple options, but the information I found was highly conflicting. The most promising options appear to come in three distinct forms:
- Soak overnight in milk.
- Add a small amount of baking soda to the marinade.
- Try sous vide again, but for longer.
Let’s start with #3. The problem with “longer” is, I think a 12-hour sous vide would turn a cube steak to mush. One hour is the best time frame for me to work with, but I can only go as high as two. The reason: while I intend to get up a little earlier than my usual night-owl schedule so I can get more out of the day (and get in a whole 4-hour movie before my wife gets home), I don’t intend to get up super early and this lunch will be my first meal of the day. Now I do have to make a Wegmans run for the Kaiser roll, and for the mushrooms which I didn’t buy in advance, but that will only take up so much time. After that I can start bacon baking and that’s normally where I’d start the clock on a one-hour marinade or sous vide.
Doing a sous vide for, say, six hours would probably have involved my wife getting it started, which she might be willing to do but I wasn’t about to ask (and in truth, the idea never occurred to me until just now).
So, #2. Baking soda is a common choice for Chinese restaurants to get super tender pieces of chicken and beef. It works best on thin slices and would probably work well on a cube steak because of the way the meat has been perforated. Problem: Many people have claimed it leaves a nasty alkaline aftertaste, and removing that isn’t necessarily an option. I’ve also heard people suggesting amounts of it from as little as 1/4 tsp. per pound to 1 tsp., the latter sounding rather ridiculous to me. Supposedly if you’re worried about an alkaline taste you can counteract the baking soda with a brief vinegar soak and then wash out the vinegar which is easier to remove; but that would entail following that up with a proper marination for flavor.
The only option left that made any sense to me was #1: soak the sucker in milk overnight. So that’s what I’m trying. Tomorrow morning I’ll wash out the steak and start it marinating in teriyaki sauce, then I’ll make my Wegmans run and start on the bacon. Just after the bacon is out, I plan to drain off the meat and dry it thoroughly, then cook it under the broiler like I’ve done the last two years. Broiling has been a relatively successful cooking method compared to pan fry in terms of being less burny/spattery.
Another reason I want to tenderize the steak more is that I’ve got a capped tooth that’s been causing me trouble. Around my birthday I ended up with a nasty toothache there, and the cap came slightly loose again. Yes I said again; it’s happened before, but like once or twice only. Since then the tooth has calmed down, but one of the times the cap got loose it got really loose, and today—Christmas day—I had it come partway out just while eating soft puffcorn. So yeah, that was pretty disturbing, and it means I have a date with a dentist in my future. But not till January. I pushed the tooth back into place and it hasn’t come loose again, but I’m gonna baby it for sure. Oddly it seems a lot better seated than it has been for the past couple of weeks, so maybe today’s little accident was a Christmas miracle and made an unexpected improvement.
Anyway, I’ll find out soon enough whether the milk trick worked. Wish me luck!