Early Juiciness: Fibers Coagulate

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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One of the two major contracting filaments, the protein myosin, begins to coagulate at about 120°F/50°C; this lends each cell some solidity and the meat some firmness. As the myosin molecules bond to each other, they squeeze out some of the water molecules that had separated them. This water collects around the solidifying protein core, and is actively squeezed out of the cell by its thin, elastic sheath of connective tissue. In intact muscles, juices break through weak spots in the fiber sheaths. In chops and steaks, which are thin slices of whole muscles, it also escapes out the cut ends of the fibers. Meat served at this stage, the equivalent of rare, is firm and juicy.