Nathan Myhrvold almost fainted. “What?” he said, “that can’t be right.”
After a series of escalating experiments, Myhrvold had proven what he thought was nonsense: the best way to make a steak juicier is to punch a bunch of holes in it.
Myhrvold is the founder of an invention company, a former CTO of Microsoft and a peer-reviewed physicist. Recently, he’s the founder of Modernist Cuisine, a culinary lab and food research institution in Bellevue, Washington that publishes its own cookbooks. Following his deep dive into moisture levels in meat, Myhrvold became a strong believer in punching holes in a steak before cooking it. His choice tool: Jaccard’s $17 tenderizer.
“It’s just a white brick with a bunch of tiny knives. You punch it down on a steak before cooking — pchunkpchunkpchunk — and the final product will be better than it would’ve otherwise been,” Myhrvold said.
Myhrvold says the magic is in the muscle fibers. As you cook a piece of meat, you cause all the fibers that connect the muscle together to rapidly contract. When they contract, he says, it’s “a little like wringing out a wet washcloth.” The Jaccard tenderizer’s job is the stop this from happening.
“The little knives cut those little fibers, so when those fibers shrink with the heat, the meat is squeezing itself less effectively,” Myhrvold explains. “This is also why the ‘oh, you’re searing to seal in the juices!’ is total bullshit. Searing naturally dries the meat out.”
In his tests, steaks tenderized with the Jaccard retained 20 percent more fluid than those that didn’t. Happy grilling season.