It’s quite common for people who like their meat cooked well done to say it’s because they “don’t like bloody meat”. Even well known chefs and food publications, who preach from the gospel of rare and medium rare steaks, are guilty of referring to the red juice that seeps out of meat as ‘blood’. But what many people don’t realise is that that liquid isn’t blood at all.
When an animal is slaughtered, the blood is drained thoroughly from the carcass before it’s butchered down into the various cuts we know and love (yes, that’s graphic, but understanding the process is incredibly important to ensuring more ethical and environmentally friendly meat production), which means that unless you buy a blood sausage, you aren’t going to encounter blood in the meat you cook at home or order at a restaurant.
So what is the red juice then, if it’s not blood?
It’s basically just meat juice, more accurately known as myoglobin – a protein that delivers oxygen to the animal’s muscles. This is released during the cooking process and sometimes some of it leaks out if your meat sweats a little when wrapped in plastic in your fridge. (Tip: pat your meat dry with paper towel before seasoning and cooking it for the best results)
To reduce the amount of meat juice that seeps from your cooked piece of meat, leave it to rest after cooking. You want those juices to redistribute so you don’t end up with a dry steak. The general rule of thumb is rest it for half the time you cooked it. If it took you 12 minutes to cook your steak, rest it for six minutes.