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Best Well-Done Steak Method?

I'm a bloody steak kind of girl, but I'm having a friend over for steak next week who likes his well done. I was considering cooking the steak to medium and hoping he'd be all right with it, but he pretty much doesn't like much more than a faint hint of pink...

I usually do the Alton Brown Cast Iron sear and quick pop the ribeye in the oven method found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

But I have no idea how to prepare a well-done steak so that it tastes like anything but dry, thick leather... Is that really what my friend likes? Are there cuts or methods I should be doing instead to produce a fantastic well-done steak? It just sounds like an oxymoron to me...



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  1. At the risk of being shunned from the Chowhound society, I will admit to liking my steak well-done. My husband likes his steak medium, so when I use the cast iron sear/oven method, I take his steak out when it's ready, and while it's resting, I just leave mine in there to cook for a bit longer.

    As for it being dry and leathery, well, yeah, that's pretty much what it is like, but to me, that's perfectly fine!

    2 Replies
    1. re: valerie

      I am a cremated steak kinda gal - and not apologising for it.

      Anyway if your friend likes it well done then please do not do it medium (why would you even think of that).

      I can assure you that a well done steak which is cooked about 10 mins each side and does not go back on the grill or in the pan to be redone because it was too pink the first 4 times is never dry or leathery.

      A ribeye is good for well done.

      1. re: smartie

        How does cooking a steak longer, thus drawing out less moisture, not make a well done steak more dry than say a medium steak. I don't get the logic. Flavor might be to your liking, but I think the texture thing is more out of opinion than reality.

    2. Harold McGee ran some tests on searing meat and ways of minimizing weight loss (that is, extruded juices). I believe he found the best approach was to bring the meat up to the target temperature with as gentle heat as possible. So you could sear the meat stove top (or hot oven), and then finish cooking in a low oven. The trick is to judge the time. He describes this in The Curious Cook.

      Keep in mind that slow cooked BBQ is capable of producing juicy meat that is clearly 'well done' - that is, with an internal temperature around 180F. This is done in a 200F oven. The newfangled method of sealing the meat in plastic, and poaching it in a carefully controlled water bath would also work.


      2 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        for info. the reason that you get tender meat with low heat cooking like BBQ is that the meats cooked with this method have a very high fat content with lots of connective tissue that will break down and render when cooked at low temps for a long time. Steak does not have these connective tissues so they will only get tough with longer cooking times

        1. re: paulj

          redundant in an ancient thread.

        2. I think your trick will be to buy well-marbled rib or ribeye steaks - at least 1-inch thick. These will have enough internal fat to keep the meat tender even if it's been, erm, overcooked. My parents always needed their steaks cooked to death and I never knew what a decent steak tasted like until I moved away from home.

          Sear on stovetop on both sides, then put them in the oven until done to your tastes. Your steak will come out first, the other one can stay in until well done right through. You may want to invest in one of those little steak thermometers if you're feeling obsessive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nyleve

            Thanks guys. I don't have time to do a long slow cook on the steak, unfortunately, Paul J, so I suppose I'll just do the sear and oven and leave it in there longer... I can't imagine the smoke involved!

          2. Take two steaks and a big skillet that can go in oven (i.e.cast iron). season steaks, preheat oven to 400, bring pan to hot. sear both sides of both steaks and USING POT HOLDERS place in oven. Bring yours to 130 and friends to 145. Remove WITH POTHOLDERS and place on a trivet. Remove steaks to cutting board, tent foil and rest for 5 minutes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              jfood, thanks for the detail. i've always been reluctant to pierce my steak with the thermometer for fear of losing juice. but i suppose i have no problem doing it with poultry, so really, i should be just fine.

              1. re: thejulia

                understood, but jfood has a bit of a contrarian view on steak piecing. Years ago before he could tell how he liked his steak by feel he would use a thermometer. And a little juice did come out. Then jfood decided that he would rather have a steak done to his temperature with a 1/2 teaspoon less of juice than a steak with that extra 1/2 teaspoon of juice at the wrong doneness.

                Two night ago he grabbed a few burgers out of the freezer and through on the grill (60 degrees in CT) since it is january he is a little out of practice and biting into raw burger was not his desire. He took his thermometer and checked (110 degrees). Ouch needed a few more minutes. He stared as juice came out of the hole. Then when they were done he placed on a plate to relax (jfood was already there) and again he saw a little more red juice come out of the violated burger. The he placed on a bun with some cheese and ketchup and sat at the table to eat. End Result - No chance he could tell which one was which at the moment of truth.

            2. This might be a more costly solution but would you consider doing a prime rib? It seems like the whole roast keeps the well done pieces from getting too tough, plus it's a pretty fatty piece of meat so it's moist.

              1. You could cut a chuck roast down to steak thickness and sear-then-slow-cook it to well-doneness. It probably won't be super tender, but it won't dry out as much as other cuts and the flavor should be excellent. This has the advantage of being a cost-effective solution also, if you're concerned about that.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Bat Guano

                  These are all fantastic solutions actually. But in the end I'm probably just going to thermometer the well done steak and take it out when it hits 145 as jfood suggests. It's the fastest! I'm getting in to the house at 7:30 and dinner's at 8, so slow cooking won't work. I might try the prime rib option when more people are coming over who like it well done rather than just one.

                  1. re: thejulia

                    The prime rib does take time. The advantage of it with a lot of people is you can have pieces all down the line from rare in the center to well done on the edges. My inlaws do that because there is a wide range of preference in the family. Any way, though, if your friend likes well done, he's probably used to leathery meat.;-)

                    1. re: thejulia

                      145 is far too low a temperature for a well-done steak. Leave it until it hits 160.

                        1. re: Byronic

                          "Very" well done is 170. A "standard" well-done is 160, according to most cookbooks and websites.

                          1. re: AdmiralSirJohn

                            I only read it off of my meat thermometer. My bad!
                            It reads:
                            Rare 140
                            Medium 155
                            Well done 170
                            Breast 155
                            Leg 180

                            1. re: Byronic

                              Interesting. Must have been printed by someone who really likes a well-done steak... :)

                    2. You have gotten great advice already, I will just add that when cooking for my BIL (who has same well-done requirement) if at the last second there is too much pink I just nuke it for about 10 seconds and that solves the problem. Travesty I know but he actually thinks I'm a great cook because I always give him what he wants!!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: GretchenS

                        brilliant. can't destroy the texture anyway :)

                        1. re: GretchenS

                          Hubby and I both like our meats well done. I can tolerate a good steak at medium well, but looking at anything less well done that that makes me feel sick. I *usually* don't end up with dried out steak either at home or from a competent chef at a decent restaurant. The keys to me are what others have mentioned, a good steak to begin with, and a proper sear.

                          But every so often I miss that exact moment when it's time to get it off/out of the heat, and the meat's a little underdone for us. So I, too, use the microwave for a few seconds if I must, for a brief finish. Generally, I'll put a little plastic wrap over it. Does the trick, and also revives left-overs next day for a sandwich.

                          Just letting you know, Gretchen, that it's not a travesty, if you're doing it for someone who likes his steak well done. Those of us who cannot stand it pink or bloody cannot stand it pink or bloody. So I, too, think you must be a great cook, because part of that is making your guests happy and comfortable. ;-)

                        2. I realize that you won't have a lot of time, but I would also suggest taking the meat out of the refrigerator as soon as you get home so that it won't be quite as cold when you cook it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: valerie

                            yeah, i was thinking about calling ahead and trying to get the vegetarian roommate to pull it out of the fridge while i'm still at the office. since i like mine bloody, i don't mind a practically cold center, but the well done steak will certainly need some room temp meat to begin with.

                          2. I only know two cuts that will tolerate well done, tenderloin and rib eye. If you choose rib, it needs to be well marbled, but it won't need a sauce like the tenderloin.

                            1. Stream of consciousness suggestion: How about chicken fried steak. Well done, tender mouthfeel.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Romanmk

                                Now that's not a bad idea. It's actually one of my favorite ways to prepare beef.

                              2. Question for those who dig their steaks well done. Well done lovers get a lot of flack by AB and Chowhound types, myself included because I would think that cooking it hard and dry would mute differences in flavor/quality.

                                What say ye?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: filth

                                  Not so, not so, not so! I find anything cooked less than medium well tastes like blood-soaked marshmallows to me. The only way I'll willingly eat rare beef is thin-sliced roast, but it had darn well better we well-seasoned.

                                  I've found that the more a piece of beef is cooked, the stronger the flavor is. And, I happen to like that thin layer of carbon build-up.

                                2. Cfood says that the pan sear in butter method is great when faced with this dilemma. Cfood cuts the steaks to varying thicknesses to allow for different preferences. Cfood's wife takes her steak maybe 1/4" to 3/8" thickness while Cfood's steak is 3/8" to 1/2". Cfood thinks that this method allows for a delicious well done steak without the toughness. Cfood finds tenting and resting a thin steak is a bad idea and should be used only with thicker cuts.

                                  1. OUTSIDE SKIRT STEAK!!

                                    Publix offers a quality cut consistently as well as many latin markets...

                                    It's the only steak that I LOVE well done!

                                    Real beef flavor, good marbling for juiciness, & fat on outside makes a delicious toasty crust...
                                    Just salt, in a cast iron pan---- or better a grill...

                                    Chuck Eye Steaks as a close second...

                                    1. You know my wife always said she liked well-done steak. Turns out she just loves the charred crust, so I basically give her a "Chicago Medium" or a variation not-very-blue black-and-blue. She likes the end result and I don't feel like I'm abusing the meat quite so much.

                                      1. I have a frriend who likes his scorched as well...I use the combo sear and oven method...Even though he is perfectly fine with the texture I always feel obliged to have a Bearnaise Sauce or Peppercorn Sauce served on the side...more for my anxiety reduction than for his palate. That said it does give the guest the opportunity to moisten the swallows if in fact you take it one step beyone an edible well done.

                                        1. My father always cooked everything to a certain shade of grey--and was upset if we didn't like it. His salmon steaks were basically hockey pucks. But the only type of steak he was vocal about enjoying when it's well done was rib-eye. Lots of marbling, so it stays moist. It's also what they put in Philly cheesesteak sandwiches--which are also well done. 'Nuf said? (Just don't burn the outside. Nobody wants to eat charcoal...)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Byronic

                                            Now I will agree with you about the salmon. Fish doesn't need to be well-done to be... well-done. A good medium is all fish takes. Of course, most fish is more delicate than even the finest beef, and thus doesn't take "overcooking" as well.

                                            1. I second skirt steak. While I like my leaner steaks like filet mignon and strip medium, I can only have fattier cuts when they are well done...and for that I use skirt steak. It has so much internal fat that it comes out very juicy when cooked to just well done. (Going way beyond to overcooking will make it dry.) I marinate mine in citrus juice, always with some lime juice, garlic, and chipotle tabasco, then grill it until nicely glazed/crisp outside.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: EricMM

                                                Normally, I'm a medium-rare guy, but I agree that skirt steak takes to medium-well very nicely and I'm very fond of the end-cut on a nice prime rib roast.

                                              2. Skirt steak is a fantastic suggestion, marinaded to retain moisture during the long cooking.

                                                I suggest a different approach than the others have suggested. Try a thinly cut steak, rib eye is great but expensive. Flat iron could work too. Target steaks under 3/8 inch steaks so you can sear both sides and have no pink on the inside. Alternatively you could try cutting strips of steak and fry them in wok.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: carrytheone

                                                  In my experience, flat iron steaks suffer from being cooked beyond medium rare.

                                                2. Go with an Angus ribeye. It has high fat content and is one if not the tenderest steak. Sear it and throw it in a 300 to 350 ° Fahrenheit oven. Cook your steak the way you want it and remove. Let his stay in 5- 8 minutes longer. Wrap them both in foil to rest as soon as they come out of the oven. You can feel the steak with your finger the firmer steak is more done than the other. Unfortunately, I don't have the language skills to tell you how to do this. You just have to practice a few times.

                                                  1. I have a freind who likes well done.Salt and pepper.Then I cook the steak in a cast iron pan on med low heat, while turning frequently and basting with butter until well done.

                                                    1. When you are finishing (ahem overcooking) your steak in the oven after searing give it a good slathering of clarified butter - maybe a couple times to replace the juices you have cooked out

                                                      But dont worry too much - I come from a long line of steak over-cookers - they actually like it that way.

                                                      1. Well Done is Steak Sacrilege!!! Did U Ever Consider Getting a New Friend??? :-)P.......