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The secret to a great steak? Don’t thaw before cooking

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Side by side steak cook-off results. (YouTube/America's Test Kitchen)

Conventional cooking wisdom has told us to defrost all meats before cooking but that might not be the ultimate way to prepare a steak.

Dan Souza, a senior editor at Cook’s Illustrated, conducted a side-by-side steak cook-off in America’s Test Kitchen. Souza froze eight strip loin steaks, each cut in half, then transferred a portion of the meat into the fridge to thaw and defrost overnight.

As demonstrated in the YouTube video, Souza seared both sets of steaks for 90 seconds on both sides, then transferred them to the oven to cook until medium rare.

The result?

The thawed steak halves developed a much maligned overcooked gray band surrounding the juicy pink interior. And while the frozen steaks took longer in the oven, the meat retained more moisture and ended up cooking more evenly. The icky gray band was also smaller. 

Souza also says the frozen steaks just tasted better. Culinary lesson learned: don't thaw your steaks before cooking. 

Keep in mind that just placing beef in any old bag will not yield the same succulent results. The editor recommends freezing steaks on a baking sheet lined with parchment, then wrapping each piece individually with plastic wrap before re-freezing.

Using fresh, never-frozen steak is always ideal but check out the entire process below and enjoy your leftover meat.

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