If you are an avid griller, you know what it takes to create the perfect steak on the grill. You frequently grill a fantastic meal for others, purchasing the best cuts and, lovingly preparing everything for what should be a delicious evening of fun and laughter. Then there’s one person in your group, a family member or friend, who asks for their steak to be prepared well done. The group falls silent, mouths agape as you turn to look at this person. Instead of telling them to get out, or getting angry, you explain to them Nine Reasons Why You Should Never Cook A Steak Past Medium.
1 Start with the basics, scientifically it is a terrible idea to cook a steak past medium. Grilling a steak at high temperatures for extended periods will cause the collagen in the muscle fibers of the meat you are cooking to contract like rubber bands. This squeezes the juice out of the meat and leaves the beautiful steak you bought feeling like you’re eating tough old army boots. For more information on how this works, read The Science of Barbecue – Tender Meat From Tough Cuts. Basically by grilling the steak how it is meant to be cooked, up to medium temperaure, you are melting the fat and relaxing the collagen, creating a more tender bite of steak.
2 If it's the red stuff on the plate that upsets the person to the point that they requested the meal be turned into a hunk of unattractiveness; reassure your guest that it’s not actually blood on the plate, it’s the delicious juices from the meat, myoglobin and water to be precise. Blood is removed from the meat during the butchering process. Sure that super scientific term may not sound much better than blood, but myoglobin is actually a protein found in the muscle fibers of said meat that gives it that red color. This highly pigmented protein mixes with the water in the steak and you have a lovely red liquid that contains all of the flavor filled goodness of a perfectly cooked steak.
A Rare Look At Health
3 Health wise, it’s actually possibly better for you to eat a steak that is less cooked. Vitamins A and B6 are found in abundance in rare to medium cooked steak, as well; a steak cooked to perfection is a fantastic source of minerals like iron. These things are essential to the health of your muscles and skin.
4 Risks of contaminants from rare to medium cooked steaks are incredibly low, if that is what your inexperienced friend is concerned about. Any meat bought from a reputable source will carry very little risk of salmonella, E.coli or any other scary ailment associated with undercooked meat. So eating that medium or rare steak isn’t going to make you sick. More to the point, cooking a steak to rare – an internal temperature of 135°F is heating the meat hot enough to kill the bacteria that cause those ailments in the first place.
The Art of Steak
5 The entirety of its lifecycle, from beef to steak this piece of meat has been groomed, cultivated, loved, and cajoled to eventually be cooked to perfection. This process maximizes flavor and texture of the steak. It has literally been designed and produced for this purpose alone. Just like you would never try to rush a brisket, which is designed to be lovingly prepared with a long and slow cook.
6 The longer a steak is cooked, the less flavor it has. Texture and taste literally evaporate because the oh so tasty juices, the pretty red ones mentioned earlier, are dripping and evaporating until there’s nothing left but a hunk of chewy brown meat that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish from a chunk of shoe leather.
7 On that note, if you were out to dinner at a restaurant and ordered your steak like that, they would likely give you a steak that is older and not really doing so great in the first place. Either way you’re not likely to be able to taste the difference.
There’s A Price To Pay
8 There is a price to pay when ordering an overcooked steak. You may be paying for a hand carved; dry aged, top sirloin, but you’re not getting your money’s worth. You won’t taste the loving preparation. You won’t get the freshest cut. That would be like ordering the tuna steak and getting a plate full of canned tuna. Why pay all that money for a good cut only to remove all that makes it worth the money?
9 There’s also the cost of time. Your time, while you wait for that poor piece of meat to be immolated into nothingness, and the cost of time that you and your table-mates have to wait while your meal is prepared.
If these nine reasons why you shouldn’t cook a steak past medium aren’t enough to convince the person at your table that that is a terrible idea, then it’s okay. Every person is allowed to have his or her own opinion. Just invite them over for chicken next time.
To explore more on why food is cooked a certain way on the grill, and what makes it so good, check out our Science of Barbecue series. Keep up to date with the latest recipes, tips and other great grilling stuff by following us on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter too.
Until next time, Happy Grilling!