Well Done Steak… What’s the Big Deal?

well done steak

Donald Trump has made headlines this week for liking his steak well done and served with ketchup (if you want a play-by-play of this groundbreaking story, here it is). But what’s all the fuss about? Is ordering a well done steak really a crime against humanity? We look into some popular opinions on this divisive issue…

Is it a tragedy to order a well done steak?

If you search ‘well done steak’ on Google, you will be met with a multitude of articles that seem to liken those who order well done steaks to criminals. Yep – People get surprisingly heated about this topic. In this feisty article, journalist Jay Rayner calls well-done steak “a mark of a life unlived, of a childish worldview retained. Of a distinct fearfulness… Perhaps you still can’t stomach the idea. Maybe the sight of pink flesh makes you heave. In which case you really shouldn’t be eating meat at all. You don’t deserve it.” Gordon Ramsay offers a similar but less extreme opinion: “Whatever quality of beef it is… has gone past any form of taste when you’ve cooked it to well done… You’re never going to identify the quality of beef when the steak is well cooked.” For more varied opinions, check out the responses of these Boston chefs when they were asked about the great well done steak debate.

Is rare beef safe to eat?

Some people choose to eat their steak well done because they’re worried about the bacteria in rare beef – but eating a rare steak doesn’t actually mean that you are likely to get food poisoning. Bacteria like E.Coli live on the surface of meat, not the inside, so when the surface is cooked at high temperatures and bacteria is killed. It’s important to note that this isn’t the case with mince or burgers, which should always be cooked until well done.

So… What is the ideal way to cook steak?

From our online searches, a popular opinion (according to The Spruce, Jamie Oliver, the Daily Meal and other sources) seems to be that most steaks taste best when served medium rare. Why? Because it provides maximum tenderness and juiciness whilst ensuring that the centre of the steak is hot (as opposed to cold, like it is with ‘Blue’ steak). According to Tom Mylan, executive butcher at the Meat Hook in Brooklyn, different cuts are suited to different cooking methods. He provides the following guide for steak cooking:

Raw

  • Top round
  • Sirloin tip

Rare

  • Flatiron
  • Top sirloin
  • Paleron

Medium-Rare

  • Ribeye
  • NY strip shell
  • Porterhouse/T-bone
  • Tri-tip
  • Flank
  • Tenderloin
  • Hanger steak

Medium

  • Skirt steak
  • Chuck short ribs
  • Chuck flap

We’re sure you’ve noticed the exclusion of well done from his list…

Tips for achieving tender well done steak

If you’re not willing to give up well done steak, here are some tips to help make sure that your steak doesn’t turn out like leather:

  • Take the steak off the grill when it is still a little pink inside and let it rest. The meat will continue to cook as it sits, but will be less likely to overcook and dry out.
  • Sear the steak on a high heat and then reduce the heat and cook it slowly. Cooking well done steak quickly on high heat is sure to make it dry and tough.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure that you don’t overcook the meat (you can read more about using a meat thermometer here).

You can also check out a recipe for making tender well done steak here.

Overall…

Is well done steak a tragedy? Well, it’s true that the longer you cook a steak, the greater the impact on eating quality. Tender and high quality cuts of beef can easily become flavourless and dry when cooked for too long, which is why most steak-lovers swear against well doneness. In our humble opinion, people can eat their steak however they want to. Our only cause for concern would be people not eating steak at all!