Super Dry Steaks Are Sometimes The Goal — And Luckily Cornstarch Exists

What comes to mind when you think of a great steak? While you might describe your dream steak as thick, tender, and juicy, we're betting that "dry" would not be one of the descriptors you'd use. A steak that's dry inside is one that may have been overcooked; and, as a result, it won't be too flavorful. 

When a steak is raw, though, you do want it to be dry on the surface. The reason for this is, when you're pan-searing the meat, any moisture on the surface will turn to steam and may spoil that nice crispy crust you're going for.

While you can pat your steaks dry with a paper towel before cooking them, here's another little trick to make sure they're as dry as can be: Sprinkle them with cornstarch. America's Test Kitchen recommends rubbing a 1:2 mixture of cornstarch and salt into the steaks, using 3 tablespoons of seasoning for 4 pounds of steak. They also return the steaks to the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking them, something that not only firms up the meat but also allows the cornstarch time to soak up the moisture. During this rest, the steaks sit up on a rack so they don't re-absorb any liquid.

Cornstarch can help other meats to be crispy, too

While cornstarch is something we tend to think of as a sauce thickener or baking ingredient, we should also be using it when we cook meat. Steaks aren't the only kind that can benefit — cornstarch used in a stir fry combines with the oil to coat each piece of meat and keep the insides juicy while crisping up the outsides. Cornstarch can also make for a much lighter coating for fried foods than breadcrumbs or batter, allowing you to enjoy all of the crunch without adding quite so many extra carbs.

Another thing cornstarch can do is help make great-tasting chicken wings. While some recipes call for using baking powder to get extra-crispy chicken skin, this ingredient can have some bitterness to it if you use too much. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is as bland as can be. All you need to do is to dust the wings with the stuff — along with some salt, pepper, cayenne, or whatever other dry seasonings you favor — then bake or grill them as usual. While the wings may not be exact dupes of the fried kind, they'll be deliciously crunchy without all of the mess and extra calories from the oil.