My Opinion: Well Done Steak Is Not Food. This Debate Stops Here.
Last week, we put up a post on our Facebook page, that is still generating a lot of comments/opinions.
And to honest, I have a few of my own. I spent years in the restaurant business, that still wake me up with nightmares of being in the weeds with tickets piling up on the floor. I'd love to say that scenario is just limited to my worst nightmares, but I lived that on a regular basis.
For a few of those years, I was also the head chef of a steak house. My favorite station to work was always the grill. Sauteing and stuff is cool, but playing with fire for hours at a time, grilling steaks and burgers and chicken and pork chops, and fish.... anything, I didn't care. I just loved grilling my meats and getting paid. If there's one thing I feel confident on, it's grilling a piece of meat to perfection.
So I have to wade into this debate. Because there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Cooking meat is no exception. If you want to eat a piece of cooked leather and convince yourself you enjoy it, go ahead. But I can at least help dispel the myths just a tiny bit.
There's two schools of thought here. 1) Technically, there's not really a right or wrong answer to what temp a steak should be grilled, but in my opinion, there is only one perfect way.
Somewhere between this:
But there is another option.... 2) There is a perfect temp for each cut of meat. Not every cut is created equal, and there are certain situations where cooking a bit above or below your temp of choice can yield the best flavor. Let's talk about some of these.
Most people consider the filet to be the ultimate cut of meat. Supreme decadence that maybe only competes with a Porterhouse in awesomeness. We'll get to the Porterhouse in a minute....It is this chef's opinion that flavor-wise, filet is best served rare - medium rare. MEdium will start to see the tenderloin losing it's porized juices and will carry over to medium well quickly while it's just sitting on your plate. Look for 125-135 degrees for rare-med rare. Use a meat thermometer and nail it every time. And, let it rest. Resting is super important as the meat will not bleed out as much when you eat it, making it more juicy and tender.
New York Sirloin Strip
This is the most popular restaurant, in my opinion. You see them on nearly every menu, everywhere. It's a gorgeous cut out of the short loin. Very juicy and tender. Med rare - medium works nicely. Any more and it starts to dry out and get tough quickly. It's also a perfect grilling steak. it gets nice visible lines, and doesn't flare up too badly on the grill. Especially if you trim the fat side down just a tad.
Porterhouse / T-Bone
A little lesson here... There is almost no difference between a porterhouse and a t-bone. Both of them are a bone-in sirloin steak with a piece of tenderloin attached to it. the difference lies in the size of the piece of tenderloin. If it's a large piece of filet, it's a porterhouse. As you cut the short loin, the piece of filet gets smaller as you move down the rib, making t-bone steaks.
Now this is a toughie, because the two pieces of meat want to be cooked at different temps by themselves. So you are likely to have a piece of filet that's cooked a little over, by the time the sirloin is cooked properly. But I'd say err on the side of caution, split the difference and go med rare, about 130-135 degrees.
Ribeye is the typical manly-man steak. Almost all dudes will buy super thick ribeyes and make constant jokes about how they gauge the cook time by the amount of beers they can drink while it cooks. Considering beer consumption speed is variable from person to person, bad idea. Ideally, for a ribeye, medium is ideal.
When you cook it at a slightly lower temp, the fat/marbling doesn't get a chance to melt into the meat the same way, and it can actually be tougher than if you brought it up to medium. I'd bring it to 135-140, and pull it off to rest.
These four are the most common grilling steaks. There are so many cuts out there, it's hard to pin all of them down in this article. But maybe this will help end some of this outrageous debate. You all had many thoughts on this process too. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the way you like it done. For instance:
But this guy and I are totally on the same page...
But...for the record...if you like your steak well done, I'm not sure we can actually be friends. To have well done steak that is not dry as a bone and burnt takes patience and care, which almost no one puts into a well done steak. In restaurants, it's fun for the chef to cook a well done steak to see how far they can push it, while still maintaining some semblance of being edible.
Anyway, enjoy your grilling this summer. Or using a smoker, or pan frying steaks on an open flame out camping. Really...there's no rules. Just a right way and a wrong way.
Don't be that guy.