When is a Steak “done”?

28 Feb

When cooking steaks, everybody has their own definition of each degree of doneness and their own idea about the  internal temperature that correlates with each degree of doneness.

I will tell you that, for me, the temperature at which I pull the steak off the grill depends on the thickness of the steak.

I shoot for medium rare. That is, in my book, red, warm center, which, again – in my opinion – translates to between 130 and 135 degrees internal temperature after resting.

Thinner steaks, I believe, have a carryover cooking effect of about 5 degrees, so I get them off between 125 and 130.

Thicker steaks, however, seem to have more of a temperature gain after removing them from the heat. I took WAY too many beautiful 1.5″ to 2″ porterhouse steaks to medium by not getting them off the grill early enough before I learned this lesson. So, when I’m cooking thicker steaks, I pull them between 120 and 125, and figure the temperature will continue to rise by up to 10 degrees after they come off the heat.

I generally cook meats to these temps for degree of doneness. These are just MY guides:
Rare – 115 to 120 (pull thin steaks at 110 – 115)
Med Rare – 130 – 135 (pull thin steaks at 125 – 130)
Medium – 140 – 145 (pull thin steaks at 135 – 140).

Beyond that? Get out of here, I’m not cooking you a steak!

Note that these are NOT the USDA recommended temperatures for steak. In my own opinion (disclaimer here – if you cook at steak below the USDA recommended temperature, its at your risk – don’t blame me, but if you cook your steaks to the USDA recommended minimum temperatures, don’t invite me over to eat one), steaks cooked to USDA temperatures are ruined, even at the bottom range of those temperature recommendations.

If you disagree with me, don’t flame me, just ignore me and eat your own steak.



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