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Mar 29, 2009 09:38 AM

Why does my meat continue to moo????

In the past month I have had 3 unfortunate steak incidences-steaks ordered medium that have produced more blood then any Saw movie.These were not ordered at chain restaurants, where grill cooks are usually given minimun training, but at well thought of establishments. The first was Dish in Charles Town WV. The 2nd The Buttery (henceforth referred to as the Buggery) in Lewes De. and the 3rd,the biggest suprise of all, Mortons in Reston Va.These 3 occurences were actually just the straws that broke the camels back, as I've experienced this more frequently in the past year then at any other time in my long and previously satisfying dining out life.So my question is-why is one of the most basic and primal of cooking techniques being so abused?Where does the problem lie-lack of training, lack of talent, or lack of care.
As a retired from public service chef, I would love to hear from current chefs as to why this is so prevalent and could the fix be as simple as proper training.

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  1. I was a chef and now have various jobs, personal chef and cater. Yes, #1 thing. How to cook meat. Steak, roast, etc. Let is rest.

    They are so pressed for time and in a hurry, everything is just fried, grilled or broiled and slapped on a plate and served. Yes, lack of training, lack of skills, lack of overall education in general cooking and lack of care. Not paid enough, just wants a job and the owner or manager doesn't know anything about cooking just management so they are hired and expect him or her to know.

    At the restaurant I am a co-owner in, we have both been chefs and both require a 1 month training period cooking in every part of the kitchen, also a teaching period also a period to learn the restaurant, wines, deserts, everything about every dish. And we hire after they cook us 4 meals. Yes four. Small portions and there are 4 of us who taste. A chicken dish, beef dish, pork dish and seafood. It must include starch, veggies and a starch along with a salad or fruit and appetizer. They have all day to prepare the dish. Now we are not looking for gourmet but good fresh cooking to show that they know how to prepare and cook the food properly. This is key in hiring someone since we watch them prepare. It shows us how they cook, techniques, cleanliness, overall skills and being comfortable in a kitchen. Then we hire. Most places look at a resume and hire.

    Maybe it is wrong but it assures us that he or she is qualified. Knows the whole restaurant and what is involved in each dish, not just his and he is trained.

    To me, that is proper training. I interviewed for a restaurant recently and they asked me in. A couple hours later they offered me a job. NO idea if I could really cook other than based on 2 calls and a resume. They said I could start in 2 days. No training, I asked, no ANYTHING, just jump in and cook. This wasn't a chain but that is where the problem lies ... management that knows nothing about cooking, just managing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kchurchill5

      IMO, carry-over will not bring a smaller cut of meat like a steak for one from rare to medium.

      I agree with the other posters who say that steaks are more often under-cooked so that they can be brought to a proper temperature. Once overcooked it can no longer be served to the customer.

    2. Not a chef.

      My thought is that its better to err on the side of less is safer. They're thinking is probably to cook it to med-rare and while it rests and by the time it gets to the table it will be medium. Cooking it to medium and by the time it rests and gets to the table its probably a fine line where it could be medium well to well done.

      You can always send the steak back and add more heat, otherwise if its overdone it's a total loss and they have to start from the beginning and they trash that steak and thats profits down the drain.

      My preference is med-rare and if it comes rare that's alright, but if it comes out medium I'll complain.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monku

        I totally agree with monku! I would far prefer to have a steak moo at me, rather than have a steak come out too well done. I have the opposite problem. I ask for my steaks to be med-rare, closer to rare and they come out med closer to well done, and that is not acceptable.

        1. re: danhole

          I'll agree here too. If my med. rare steak (or hamburger) is less than MR, I usually go with it. My husband, on the other hand, would send it back to be cooked a tad more. And yes, if the steak is too medium, I'll send it back.

      2. I like my steak burnt to a puck. It's my choice and that's how I like it. I go all out explaining to the server to tell the kitchen that I want it way past well done, I don't care if they cut it to check it just don't bring it to me with ANY red in it or on the plate.

        I cannot tell you how many times my steak has arrived at the table swimming in blood (all over the sides), has to go back to be recooked, leaving me with no food while my companions are enjoying their meals. Finally mine returns, reheated possibly in a microwave, cold sides with congealed blood, when everyone else is finished.

        I also dispair as to why a steak house like Mortons or Ruths Chris and others, can't manage a well done steak. It's not rocket science.

        10 Replies
        1. re: smartie

          i've seen steaks pressed under a sizzle platter to get all the red out when they've come back for a re-fire.

          1. re: smartie

            I was at an interview with Gordon Ramsay and he said that he tests his new chefs on cooking a steak well done and making it taste good. He said anyone can cook a steak to rare or med-rare, but well done and not dry is difficult.

            1. re: Sooeygun

              How do you do that, I wonder? I have often heard said that if you order a well done steak in a steakhouse you will get the worst cut of meat they have. Any truth to that? Anyone know? Not that I ever would, but I know people who do.

              1. re: danhole

                With Ramsay, I hear he adds a ladle of stock to the pan. Don't know how much it would help?

                1. re: danhole

                  Wasn't it in one of Bourdain's books where they talked about tossing the steak back to be refired to well-done into the deep fat fryer?

                  1. re: danhole

                    we had a 'save for well done' tray at our grill station, let's just say, it wasn't pretty.

                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                      Curious as to the percentage of 'well' steaks and what kind of restaurant you worked.

                      1. re: alwayscooking

                        upscale New American, entrees around the $25-$35 range.
                        probably put out around 2-3 well done steaks per week.

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          Thanks for the info - there just seemed to be a prevalence of 'well done' issues and I was curious how it played out over the populace.

              2. Strictly speaking that is not blood. Raw meat is 75% water. As it cooks, the proteins coagulate, squeezing out some of this water. It is pink because it contains myoglobin, which remains red up until 140F. By 170F, the pigment has turned gray, and the juices have stopped being squeezed out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj

                  Thank you science guy for that explanation. Dont remember that lesson from culinary school.However the fact still remains it created a very unappealing red lake in which the rest of my meal appeared to be swimming and was just not the way I ordered it, which is sorta the point of dining out.
                  On the up side, now I know if my meal is awash in a sea of grey, I'm about to cut into some serious shoe leather.

                2. Question for you -

                  What should the appearance of a steak cooked "medium" be?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: gordeaux

                    I think any steak cooked correctly rare or well should still have a good crust, browned and then let set so juices don't run out. Then served. You should have a nice carmelized steak in front of you no matter which cut or rather it is rare of well. Obviously something well maybe a bit more carmelized but even rare should have a nice color to the outside.

                    1. re: gordeaux

                      Here is a description of how the steaks should look at different degrees of temperatures:


                      1. re: danhole

                        Interestingly the Wiki article says little about how to _get them_ to those degrees of doneness, and says nothing about touch. I've cooked these meats for many years (at home) and got used to the "feel" of the lean meat as it cooks. Can knock off steaks and small roasts with pretty good medium-rare to medium this way, as most people prefer. Chefs I knew urged this method 10 or 15 years ago, and I got used to it. (Beware pat instructions on how to "feel" doneness if you've never tried it -- there's no substitute for experiencing the change as the meat firms up.) Russ Parsons' recent books on properties of cooking ingredients have good description of the "feel" of meats being cooked.

                        Those chefs I mentioned acknowledge that cooking beef to an exact doneness (without cutting it open to check) is a bit of an art.

                        Another factor helpful with consistent cooking is thermal management. Pull the raw meat out of refrigeration an hour or so in advance (into room temperatures) to come up a bit; even better, wrap it (inside some waterproof wrapper) in kitchen towels, it then comes up in temperature more slowly but more uniformly. The object is not to drop a steak onto a pan or broiler with its core at refrigerator temperature. I've suspected this problem when encountering soem seriously undercookd restaurant steaks. (Kitchen uses some "time" rule for cooking, assuming meat staged at a certain starting temperature; cook shortcuts things when business is spotty, by pulling it straight from refrigeration, but doesn't adjust the time, or check by touch.)

                        1. re: eatzalot

                          I also use the touch method, and bring my steaks to room temp before cooking. Never thought about the wrapping method, though. My poor husband has not mastered the touch method, so he has been banned from grilling steaks. His idea of med rare is past med, and a waste of meat. The only reason I cited the article was to reference the color of the meat once you cut into it. Most steak places have a guide printed in the menu stating how it will look at each stage. I don't use a thermometer anymore, but the guide I have says:
                          rare 115-120
                          med. rare 130-135
                          med 140-145
                          med well 150-155
                          well done 160-170

                          1. re: danhole

                            my bf likes his meat well done. Thankfully, he rarely orders steak when we go out, as he's more of a pasta lover. One time they had a great filet special tho.... and I ordered mine MR, he ordered well-done. The server explained that the chef would butterfly the filet in order to get the desired level of doneness without charring the exterior. He was fine with that. (I was cowering in shame) Steak came, was butterflied, he said it was great. I didnt take a taste to see.

                        2. re: danhole

                          That was a very interesting article, but I can't help but wonder if the temps are based on european parameters, which have usually run 10 degrees less then US.In modern times in the US rare has usually been defined as between 130-135, MR-140-145, going up the scale in 5-10 degree increments. I dug out a really old meat thermometer-think it qualifies as an antique-and it grades rare as being 140 and medium as 160. I went to my old standby CIA text, which interestingly enough gives no temps, just cooked to desired doneness.No wonder grill cooks are confused!!!