The Best Way To Prevent Steak From Curling

You may not be familiar with the term "buckling," but, if you've ever grilled, pan-fried, or pan-seared steaks, you've almost certainly seen buckling in action. 

According to F. Whitlock & Sons, buckling is what happens when the edges of your steak start to curl up when cooking. It's unattractive, annoying ... and also easily avoidable once you know a simple trick.

But, before we get to the cure, let's address the cause. What makes buckling happen in the first place? As Lifehacker observes: "Meat that has that nice band of fat around the outside can start to buckle pretty quickly. This is because the fat loses its moisture faster than the rest of the meat, and shrinks while cooking." 

Basically, the fat is contracting as it cooks and dries out, thus pulling more tightly against the surrounding meat. Because of this — and the fact that the heat is no longer quite as evenly distributed — the sides of the meat start to curl up. Makes sense, right?

Here's how to prevent it.

Try this trick for no more buckling

The BBC has a simple solution that will end buckling once and for all: Cut small slits in the fat. However, Lifehacker cautions against making the slits too deep, as doing so could cause you to actually cut into the meat. This should be avoided at all costs. 

F. Whitlock & Sons recommends keeping the slits an inch or more apart as a general rule. Cutting the slits effectively stops buckling, keeping the steak flat so it'll sear evenly.

However, per the BBC, there are still a few best practices to keep in mind when cooking steak. Before you even think about cooking, take the meat out of the refrigerator or freezer, and allow ample time for it to come to room temperature. Also, let your skillet heat up for at least five minutes over high heat before introducing the steak. Similarly, let the steak rest for at least five minutes after cooking before you cut into it. 

Follow these guidelines, and you'll have a perfect, buckle-free steak.