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Home » From Rare to Well Done: A Steak Cooking Guide

From Rare to Well Done: A Steak Cooking Guide

The king of meats is a well grilled prime steak.

However, there is a small line between a well grilled steak and a rubbery chunk of meat taste.

There is a lot of contradicting information out there about how to discern whether your steak is cooked properly, which may be confusing for grillmasters who are just getting started.

Is the finger test one of the methods you use? Were there any other methods that might be used, such a meat thermometer or cutting the steak open?

Here, we’re breaking down how to cook a steak to your desired doneness, what each degree of doneness looks like, and why some of the common knowledge on cooking a steak isn’t all that sensible.

What are the various steak doneness levels?

If you’ve ever had steak, you’ve undoubtedly heard the words “medium rare” and “well done.”

Six commonly accepted degrees of steak doneness are available to request at a steakhouse.

Steak Doneness Chart showing color of cooked steak from blue rare to well done

Blue Rare (115°F)

The exterior of a blue rare steak is seared to brown it without overcooking the inside. Blue steaks are reported to have just recently “stopped mooing” since they are so fresh. Due to its short cooking time, the meat inside tends to be a little more chewy.

Rare (120°F)

With a cold, brilliant red core and a golden brown outside, rare steaks should be as tender and springy as fresh meat. Tenderloins and other thinner steaks, such as those served rare, are particularly soft and flavorful. As a result, the cooking process is so quick that the fat in the meat does not have time to melt.

Medium Rare (130°F)

Meat cooked to medium-rare should be warm throughout with a good brown crust, which is the most common way to prepare it.

The meat should have a tinge of crimson in the centre and be pink in color. Medium-rare steaks like the ribeye are a fantastic option since the extended cooking time reduces the amount of fat in the meat. Your steak will have a buttery smooth feel because of the rendered fat.

Medium (140°F)

When cooked to medium-rare, the flesh loses its pink hue and becomes firm throughout. The longer the medium-rare steak is cooked, the more water it loses, resulting in a drier, less tender steak.

The ideal temperature is a medium-well (about 150°F). Some of the water has drained and fat has begun to flow out of a medium-well steak, which is still a bit pink in the middle. For most steak enthusiasts, medium-well is the point at which the meat turns a little too dry. Steaks with a lot of fat tend to hold up better to this treatment than those with less fat.

Well Done (160°F)

“Chef’s bane” is the name given to a steak that has lost most of its water and fat, making it tough and dry. The method for preparing a well-done steak differs somewhat. You’ll need to cook a well-done steak slowly and low for between 10 and 12 minutes on each side to prevent overcooking the exterior.

Most chefs and steak lovers like rare to medium-rare steaks, but the ideal amount of doneness is entirely up to you. A delicacy in certain places, on the other hand, is eating raw meat.

A bloodied steak is not something I want to eat!

We have some fantastic news to share with you! It’s not blood that’s dripping off your meat.

As a result, many individuals overcook their steaks as a result of this misperception.

During the killing procedure, an animal’s blood is almost completely eliminated. It’s a protein called Myoglobin that’s important for transporting oxygen throughout the muscle, and it’s a red color.

Well-done steak has a gloomy gray hue because the myoglobin naturally darkens as it cooks.

After an animal dies, its blood becomes thick and black and has a bitter, coppery flavor. Because it’s a byproduct of heating, myoglobin has a distinct taste.

It’s still possible to order your steak “bloody,” but know that you won’t really be chomping down on any genuine blood.

Don’t eat the USDA-recommended steak.

A safe minimum internal temperature of 145°F is recommended for beef, according to the USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart.

You can see from our doneness chart that this is a recipe for medium well and nothing more than that.

To guarantee that meat is bacteria-free, the USDA requires meat to be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ideal temperature.

Is it dangerous to eat rare steak?

In fact, no. A food scientist at the Food Network, Harold McGee, points out that.

“Not if the cut is an intact piece of healthy muscle tissue, like a steak or chop, and its surface has been thoroughly cooked: bacteria are on the meat surfaces, not inside.”

You shouldn’t be concerned about the health effects of eating juicy, pink/red meat since you’ll be grilling it on a hot surface anyhow to produce the crucial Maillard reaction.

How to cook a steak to the degree of doneness that you like

Before looking at steak cooking methods, it’s important to understand just what cooking does to your steak.

Understanding the cooking process allows you to experiment and acquire the exact outcomes you’re looking for. The more you know, the more powerful you become.

Check out our reverse sear steak recipe if you’d want to learn how to cook steak the right way.

During the cooking process, what happens to the steak?

It takes two steps, according to the experts at Chicago Steak Company, to prepare the perfect steak:

1. Preparation of food

The first step is to cook the meat until it reaches an internal temperature that is constant throughout. Regardless of how you prepare meat, there are three things you can expect to happen regardless of the method:

1.1 The process of degrading protein

Cooking beef denatures the protein strands that are normally tightly wrapped. The breakdown of these proteins, known as denaturing, is what causes a rare steak to be chewier than a medium-rare steak.

1.2 Water removal

75 percent of your steak’s muscle fibers are made out of water, as are mammals as a whole. The meat shrinks and dries out as the water in it evaporates throughout the cooking process.

1.3 Getting rid of the lard

The taste of your steak is enhanced while it cooks because the fat pockets in the flesh melt and are absorbed into the meat. A steak’s taste is enhanced by marbling, which is highly sought after in the first place.

2. The act of savoring

Searing the beef is the next step in the procedure. For a brief amount of time, the exterior of your steak will be exposed to very high temperatures. The Maillard reaction occurs as a result of this abrupt surge of heat.

Evaporating water and rearrangement of amino acids in a steak’s carbohydrates creates browning and a richer taste.

For the Maillard process to occur, your cooking surface must be heated to a temperature of 300–500°F.

J. Kenji López-Alt from and Adam Savage from MythBusters collaborated to find the best method for searing steaks.

How to tell whether your steak is cooked to perfection

Internal temperature is, as you may have realized by now, the key to knowing when your steak is done. As a result, a fast read thermometer is an essential tool for every pit manager.

Keep in mind that the majority of steaks have a doneness range of 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

With only your fingertips, it may be quite difficult to accurately assess the temperature of your steak, which can have a significant impact on the final product.

Is it possible to know just looking at the color of the beef?

That’s not truly the case.

Your steak isn’t done cooking when you turn off the heat. So we propose cooking at a temperature of 5 to 10 degrees lower than your goal temperature. Steak color might alter from when you cook it to when you serve it to your guests.

It’s not a good idea to rely only on your eyes when it comes to determining the color of a piece of grilled meat.

Using a finger to verify the doneness of a steak might be risky.

You can’t get rid of one of those obstinate culinary clichés about steak doneness, like comparing the doneness of your steak to your hand or face.

The truth is that no two hands or faces are the same. That is why they are a bad tool to use when trying to gauge a variety of things.

Unless you cook a lot of steak, your fingers cannot discern the difference between rare and medium-rare reliably even if you have cooked a lot of it.

Stop poking yourself in the eye and make an investment in an instant meat thermometer if you want to be sure your steak is cooked to the exact doneness you want.

It will be much simpler to determine when your steak is done.

Avoid overcooking your steak by removing it from the heat early.

As you can see, temperature is an important consideration when attempting to cook your steak to your desired degree of doneness. The instant you remove your steak from the grill, the cooking process does not end.

The temperature of your meat will continue to increase after you cease the cooking process. You should remove the steak from the fire when it’s around 5°F below your desired temperature to prevent overcooking.

As long as you let the steak to rest for a few minutes, the internal temperature will rise by 5 degrees Fahrenheit without your intervention.

In my experience, it’s not necessary to let steak to rest for long periods of time, but I do tend to let it sit while I’m preparing the rest of the meal.

Additionally, we’ve written a whole piece on how to store cooked steak in the event that you make too much.

To avoid overcooking, do not touch the food.

One of the most challenging aspects of being a grillmaster is preparing many steaks for a diverse group of diners who want varied degrees of doneness.

It’s going to be much more difficult if you poke your steak with a finger or hold it up to your face to see whether it’s done.

An quick meat thermometer is a must-have if you care about the quality of your steak. Your steaks will taste better, and you won’t have to worry about burning your fingers as much.