Why is my steak pale inside?

About 20 - 25% of the time when I buy and cook filet it is pale in the middle. Everyone in the family has their steak either rare or medium-rare, and a pale steak just doesn’t look good. I have cooked the steak properly - the rare ones have the correct texture.

Is it something I have done or can you sometimes get steak that way from the store? here is some variability in what I do, and I will like to know if anything I am doing is causing the problem.

I nearly always buy from the same place (Kroger). The filets will be in my refridgerator for 0 - 30 hours. I will marinade in Dale’s sauce for 30 minutes to 2 hours, in the refrigerator. Sometimes I let the steak warm to room temperature before cooking, sometimes I forget. I then cook on a hot grill - there is no variability there.

Any ideas?

My guess is that it’s the marinade, or perhaps a combination of the grill temperature and the marinade. The steak might possibly be “boiling” in the marinade, rather than searing over high heat. The fire should be white hot, and perhaps you should only marinate the meat for 10-15 minutes, cook quickly and hot…

It’s an interesting thought. I had the paleness problem this weekend, and I did marinate for longer than normal.

I do cook quickly on a hot grill - I let it heat up thoroughly. Although I have read advice to cook on an open grill, I do leave the top down. I found with it open that the steak took considerably longer and never got the nice criss-cross “charred” pattern on the outside. I let the grill get to 400 degrees F before starting to cook. A rare steak then takes about 10 minutes for a steak about 1" thick.

I doubt that having a closed grill will be my problem because I always do that, but only occasionally get the paleness.

What do you mean by “pale” - is it grey? If so I think it’s basically overcooked to “medium well” rather than “medium rare” (quite pink) or “rare” (raw/red in the very middle).

I’d suggest ditching the marinade, just use salt & pepper, and a hot enough fire to “sear” the outside quickly so it isn’t on the heat long enough to cook the inside through…the timing is critcal, and tricky, you might need to cut a slit and peek at the inside to check the doneness as you go if you don’t have an instant-read thermometer.

FWIW I just looked up the instructions in Steven Raichlen’s “BBQ Bible” for cooking steak, for a 1" thick steak cooked rare (140 degrees) he suggests 3-4 minutes per side directly cooked over a hot grill (which he defines as 500+ degrees), cover off.

There is NO WAY a 1" steak is rare after 10 minutes on an enclosed, hot grill.

It will be medium-rare after 8 minutes.

Your steak is mostly grey/cooked color, with a streak of pink down the middle? What you have my friend is medium-well steak.

Perhaps the source of confusion is that Filet is pretty tender - even cooked medium well it will not be too tough to eat. Whereas a less tender cut of steak will be nigh inedible if cooked to that color.

No, no, no - the steak is not overcooked. As I stated in my original post, it has the characteristic texture of a rare steak. Plus most of the time that amount of time gives the steak the normal deep red color of a rare steak - but one in four or five times it is pale. No way will the same length of time on the same grill produce a rare steak one day and a medium-well the next time.

Trust me - I have eaten probably thousands of steaks, including in some very fine restaurants. I know what a rare steak tastes like. I also know what it should look like.

So let’s get off that tack please.

I’ve tried salt & pepper - I prefer Dale’s. You should not really cut into a steak (or insert a thermometer) as that lets the juices out, although I confess that I do it sometimes because I am not totally confident with the following method: with practice you can tell how much a steak is cooked by its response to being pressed with tongs or finger.

When I make steaks, I go for hotter and shorter than you. Usually about 600 F, and 2 minutes on each side. Then I turn the grill off and flip the steak over intermittently for a few minutes, until it looks ready. The steak tends to look like this, which might be too rare for your tastes. Basically I would increase the heat.

I agree with ditching the marinade, but if you like the flavor it imparts, maybe a comprimise is to marinate the steaks for 15 minutes maximum, then pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. 2 hours seems like much too long in any salty and acidic marinade for Filet Mignon.

The best steaks that I have eaten were always treated simply, a brush of olive oil, and a secret steak seasoning “rub” recipe laid on heavily. Grilled on a two stage high heat commercial gas grill, starting on the high heat of the right side, rotating them to the left.

Which brings me to a slight pet peeve of mine, many of these chain franchise butchers offer all kinds of marinated flavors of steaks… garlic, onion, cajun, etc. These “specialty” steaks are always grey when cooked and not particularly juicy. I highly reccomend buying the straight steak and controlling the marinade yourself, if you must marinate your steaks.

Agreed, make the marinade time short, maybe brush some (fresh) marinade on after or during the cooking. Marinating for too long just makes the meat mushy, and the flavor doesn’t penetrate far into the meat. Cook’s Illustrated did some tests on this; you’re really only flavoring the outer 1/8 to 1/4" of meat at most.

That is slightly too rare for me, but I will try for the “hotter” part. I think the most likely culprit is marinating too long, though, based on several comments here plus its being the most variable thing in what I do. I might try an experiment with a short and long period.

Just salt and pepper didn’t do it for me (and I do know that the main ingredient of Dale’s is salt), but if people have any other suggestions for seasonings/rubs, I’d be interested.

Depending upon the marinade, they are mainly salt & sugar, it has chemically cooked your steak before it has even seen the fire. If you leave it in the marinade overnight you might as well hang the meat in the sun and make jerky.

Try the same steak at the same temp and cooking time without the marinade.

If your marinade contains any meat tenderizers, check the label for papain. It’s made from papaya fruit and will start to enzymatically dissolve the meat. It is used in commercial meat proccessing to help dissolve the meat off the bone. I used it industrially for many years.

My personal opinion is that marinades are for bad meat or chefs. They drive juices from the meat and start the cooking process well before the meat sees the fire. If you want to add flavor, brush something on the meat during the last 15 minutes of cooking, then serve.

We once cooked some steaks we got from Costco and they were not red when they were done (we religiously pull steaks off at 130° and tent for 5 minutes or so). The flavor was also very bland. We chalked it up to a less-than-stellar piece of meat.

For seasoning, I use A. A. Borsari seasoned salt (I get it from either Whole Foods or a specialty store, don’t remember). The salt contains sea salt, kosher salt, rosemary, basil, and pepper. First, I liberally drizzle olive oil over both sides of the steak. Then I rub the borsari over it. It makes a huge difference. The outside of the steak gets a kind of caramalized, savory flavor as the salty crust gets heated, and the inside is never tough from marinating. If you use that approach with a nice cut of meat, you’ll never need to go to a steakhouse.

The last 15 minutes of cooking a steak? This is just before I scatter the ashes, right? :stuck_out_tongue:

In addition to the marinade problem, if you get your meat from different sources at different times, that could be a factor. I rarely go to WalMart, avoid it like the plague, but occassionally I have to for one specific reason or another. I had never ever ever shopped for fresh food there, but one day I had to go there and planned a small trip to my regular grocery store after. I wasn’t feeling well, though, and decided to give in and get the few groceries I needed there and skip the extra trip. I saw they had flatiron steak on sale, and that is one of my favorite inexpensive cuts. I got a package. And they were AWFUL. The texture was the strangest I had ever encountered in a cut of beef. I cooked the meat simply, as I always do, so method of cooking wasn’t a factor. I couldn’t even finish eating it. I found since then that lots of other people had had similar experiences with WM meat. Won’t be doing THAT again.

It’s nearly always Kroger, occasionally Publix, never WalMart (if they stop treating their customers like criminals, I may one day set foot in a WalMart again).

I usually buy on a Saturday or Sunday to eat at the weekend, so the longest time would be a Saturday morning purchase for a Sunday evening meal.

I think it is that 20-25% of the time, you are getting a steak that has been kept too cold by the store, partially froze, and then been thawed.