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Recently, I went crazy and bought an entrecôte -- a very premium cut of beef to me. Over $11 USD for one. It was heavenly. I nearly cried when it was all gone from the plate.

The instructions said to put it out from the fridge for 30 minutes before frying it, which I did. While in the grill pan, it caused so much fat to melt into it that it quickly started "boiling" in its own fat rather than frying, so I had to repeatedly take the meat out from the pan and put it on a plate while pouring away all the liquid fat from the pan into a container. I repeated this many, many times before it finally looked done. The instructions said nothing about this, but maybe they consider it "obvious". If I had just left it in the pan, it would've been "caramelized" rather than fried/grilled. A lump of coal!

Anyway, once done, the instructions said to let it rest on the plate for two minutes before slicing it up into slices and then serving.

My question is: while I understand the need to wait for it to cool down, and possibly "set" (not sure if that's the right term) outside of the frying pan before serving, why do they tell you to slice the whole thing into slices? I actually didn't follow that last advice, but instead just kept cutting pieces from it as I ate. (As I've always eaten meat of any kind, including in any restaurant I've ever been to.)

This time (yes, I couldn't help myself from buying another one!), I'm going to try to cut it into slices as instructed, before eating, after waiting the two minutes. Unless you all can tell me a good reason not to, that is. Does it make the meat taste better? If so, why?

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    My instinct would be that the instructions don't mean 'you should slice this after letting it rest' but rather 'if you're going to slice it, let it rest first' (i.e. instead of slicing it immediately). Slicing a steak can be the norm if it might be tough to cut at the table, or if it's going to be shared (especially if it's fairly large), or indeed just for a particular presentation.
    – dbmag9
    May 17, 2021 at 10:40
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    You said that your meat would have caramelised if you hadn’t stopped ever so often to pour off the fat. But that’s what you want: caramelisation — or rather, predominantly the Maillard reaction between the sugars and the proteins in your meat — causes both the browning and the distinct flavour we’re seeking in our entrecôte. I’m not saying that you’d never pour off excess fat (nor that it’s impossible to accidentally burn the meat), but in general you’d use the fat of an entrecôte to baste it, you wouldn’t drain it off. May 17, 2021 at 22:27
  • Another reason for cutting is that in the kitchen you have the sharpest possible knifes and can cut against the grain, i.e. cutting the muscle fibres and giving the tenderest serving. All this is mainly presentational but important for restaurants and commercial cooking. May 18, 2021 at 10:42
  • It looks great for presentation (and for sharing photos of your dinner on instagram...) but it cools down much faster! When I cook steak for myself I don't care about the former but I do about the latter. I don't like eating my meat cold. And I don't like to rush dinner. May 18, 2021 at 19:28
  • Also, while the "leave your steak out at room temp before cooking" instructions are repeated everywhere it may be a myth and not worth it. seriouseats.com/old-wives-tales-about-cooking-steak May 18, 2021 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

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To directly answer your question - you slice it for presentation.

Entrecôte should be cooked at as high a temperature as you can achieve. This will tend towards charring the outside before the inside is cooked. As you should serve it towards medium rather than rare because of the fat content, you want to avoid over-cooking by doing it too slowly.

You are correct in allowing it to rise to room temperature before cooking. Some people would also salt it 30 - 45 minutes before cooking [others would object to that - your call, experiment]. If it was vac-packed, definitely allow it to come to room temperature between towels to help dry it out.

Once it hits your pan or grill, it should really only need a couple of minutes each side; this should be fast enough that it doesn't swamp your pan before each side is done.
After that, you either leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes, or place in a slow oven, depending on thickness. This is to allow the temperature to equalise & finish cooking the inside.

Because it is heavily charred on the outside, for presentation you slice to present the tender inside as it's served.

enter image description here

Image is waygu, but best I could find royalty-free. - https://www.dreamstime.com/modern-style-barbecue-dry-aged-wagyu-entrecote-beef-steak-lettuce-tomatoes-offered-as-close-up-design-plate-image194816166

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    Re: resting the meat for at least ten minutes - it serves another purpose, as well as the two you mentioned: cooking the meat causes the juices to become unevenly distributed and the fibres to toughen slightly; resting allows the juices to even out through the meat and also lets the fibres relax, allowing for better, easier slicing and a better mouth-feel (and taste for particularly juicy cuts). The difference between rested and unrested isn't huge , but it is significant and by taking easy steps to improve things, a good meal can become a great one.
    – Spratty
    May 18, 2021 at 10:39
  • I'm in the salt 45 minutes before cooking camp. It improves the surface texture greatly IMO. Penetration is minimal. But as mentioned, it's a personal preference. May 18, 2021 at 18:36
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One point is presentation as has already been covered by another answer.

Another is to cut the muscle fibers shorter if possible. Muscle fibers are generally tough, and so if you cut them into shorter parts the meat will feel more tender to chew. A premium piece of steak will already have the fibers short, ie. along the shortest dimension like so |||||||||||||| (sideview) or maybe slightly slanted like so ////////// (sideview), but you can still cut them even shorter by cutting at an angle like so \ \ \ \ (sideview). Search for "how to cut meat against the grain" for more information or look here for an example using flank steak where it is pretty much essential to cut against the grain: https://www.thekitchn.com/heres-exactly-how-to-slice-meat-against-the-grain-and-why-you-should-be-doing-it-meat-basics-215798

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