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If a person likes their steak "well done" does it really matter what grade of beef the steak is?

ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 07:11 AM

When the steak is cooked completely through -- i.e. well-done -- does it matter whether the steak is prime, choice or (gasp!) select?

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  1. LindaWhit RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 09:44 AM

    I would have to say "no". It's going to be tough as shoe leather and probably just as tasteless, so why bother with the grading? Unless you just want a slightly more "tender" piece of shoe leather - then you go with prime. ;-)

    1. almansa RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 11:08 AM

      For the most part, no. However if the cut is skirt steak, sirloin flap, rib dorsal muscle or flatiron, prime will yield a better well-done.

      6 Replies
      1. re: almansa
        ipsedixit RE: almansa Jun 3, 2009 11:31 AM

        That's interesting. Can you explain how that is so?

        Thanks.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          almansa RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 02:41 PM

          The skirt and rib dorsal have more exterior (and interior) fat and self baste when cooking. The flatiron at higher grades can be the most marbled cut of all, and it is also the second most tender, so the combination allows for an overcooked steak to retain some moisture. All of these steaks plump considerably when cooking, especially the dorsal and flap steaks, due to their intramuscular fat, and this helps to break down fibers in the meat more quickly than would a slow braise, and it allows for a degree of tenderness not expected out of a quick-cooked well done.

          1. re: almansa
            m
            mateo21 RE: almansa Jun 3, 2009 02:44 PM

            Maybe we are thinkign of two different flat-irons, or I'm not understanding your terminology... but Rib-Dorsal muscle implies a muscle in an dorsal position to the ribs -- which it certainly isn't. Also, from what I've heard intramuscular fat would not provide a mechanism for plumping while under heat -- protien contraction could (think overcooking a burger).

            1. re: mateo21
              almansa RE: mateo21 Jun 3, 2009 03:25 PM

              I'm talking about the flatiron - top blade cut whole-muscle from the shoulder clod, then denuded. The dorsal muscle from the primal rib is a separate steak. It's pretty much not available unless you happen to fabricate it yourself.

              Admittedly I am fortunate to work with really nice beef with generous intramuscular marbling - not something you would see in angus or hereford breeds or crosses, unless the animal was diabetic.

              Protein contraction is why well-done meat is (imo) terrible, but I was trying to point out certain exceptions if one really has to go there.

            2. re: almansa
              e
              embee RE: almansa Jun 5, 2009 07:22 AM

              The rib dorsal, IMO, is most likely to survive overcooking (though what a tragic waste of the tastiest morsel on the cow). The rich crispiness it can attain might compensate somewhat for overcooking.

              Overdone skirt, like overdone flank, doesn't taste good despite the skirt's additional fat content.

              Insufficient experience with flatiron to comment.

              1. re: almansa
                pikawicca RE: almansa Jun 7, 2009 02:47 PM

                I tried a flap steak from a local grass-fed producer. It tasted like liver. Very disappointing, as their other cuts have been fine.

          2. c
            chileheadmike RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 11:10 AM

            Just dump some A-1 on it and call it good.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chileheadmike
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              dvsndvs RE: chileheadmike Jun 3, 2009 11:39 AM

              Have you read Bordain on this? He says the meat just about to go bad is saved for well.

              1. re: dvsndvs
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                chileheadmike RE: dvsndvs Jun 3, 2009 01:23 PM

                I've read a lot of Bourdain. I've never read this however. In the restaurants in which I have worked, the sourcing//turnover was such that we did not have meat just about to go bad. So if you ordered well done, it was the same age as any other steak.

                1. re: chileheadmike
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                  Sal Vanilla RE: chileheadmike Jun 3, 2009 09:40 PM

                  Actually older steaks - or misshapen steaks go on to become those reserved for saucing. I alwaus think of that when I am tempted by a nice filet with bordelaise

            2. m
              MattInNJ RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 11:42 AM

              IMHO No, but if the person is paying for it at a restaurant, if they order prime they should get prime, no matter how burned they want their leather. It is called honest business practices.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MattInNJ
                ipsedixit RE: MattInNJ Jun 3, 2009 11:46 AM

                Of course you're right about steaks served at a restuarant.

                The question was more directed towards the home cook.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  m
                  MattInNJ RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 11:51 AM

                  Oh, hell no they are not going to get the best cut. They will get it grilled to their liking, after I publicly ridicule them. j/k :P

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    s
                    Sal Vanilla RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 09:43 PM

                    If you opt (at home) for a cheaper cut for the person who prefers well done meat you have limited your options if you have a mishap on the grill. If everyone has the same cut and one steak sits on the hot spot too long or somehow gets mismanaged, well no worries! That steak can go to Mr. I love to eat shoe leather. If you try to play the cheaper grade game, it may be another guest - probably Mr. I wanna hear a moo outta you who will be grinding away at it all night.

                2. r
                  ricepad RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 12:09 PM

                  A friend of mine got married several years ago, and to impress his new in-laws, bought a bunch of prime steaks for a cookout. He cooked everything medium/medium rare, and every one of his in-laws put their steaks back on the grill until they were done, done, DONE. He could have cried. Since then, he buys the cheap stuff (not even select, but ungraded), and the in-laws are just as happy. So...to my friend's in-laws, it makes no difference.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ricepad
                    j
                    jhopp217 RE: ricepad Jun 6, 2009 08:46 AM

                    It's funny you say that. I was going to take my brother to a great steakhouse as an anniversary present, but I can't get myself to do it. He orders it very well done and I don't think I can handle it. I know someone who orders filet mignon, butterflied and extra well done. Then pours A-1 on it. I can't watch her eat a steak and vice versa. She gets ill watching my steak as it tries to run off the plate!

                  2. s
                    smartie RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2009 02:55 PM

                    as someone who won't eat her steak unless it is burnt to a crisp - I personally like ribeye best. But to be honest if a steak would be tough when you cook it rare to medium rare it will be tough if it's well done.

                    Liking your meat well done does not mean liking it tough as old boots. I still want to be able to slice it with a regular knife and be able to get a fork into it without using a hammer and chisel.

                    41 Replies
                    1. re: smartie
                      LindaWhit RE: smartie Jun 3, 2009 05:40 PM

                      I'm sorry, I just don't see how that's possible if most or all of the juices have been cooked out of it to a well-doneness. Well done pieces on the ends of steaks I've had are always difficult to cut - yes, you can cut it, but not easily.

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        s
                        smartie RE: LindaWhit Jun 3, 2009 07:24 PM

                        sorry Linda you are not correct, I just had a skirt steak perfectly well done, crispy on the outside, tender inside, it cut like butter, no problem chewing it at all. I am telling you that a tough steak is tough whether rare or well done, it's all about quality of meat. If you grilled a piece of stewing steak to medium rare it would still be tough.

                        1. re: smartie
                          LindaWhit RE: smartie Jun 3, 2009 07:33 PM

                          I've yet to see a "well done steak" that can be "cut like butter" (i.e., where the knife barely has to glide through the meat to cut a piece or that you could use a fork to cut it, which is the way most people would use that terminology). But if you say yours was like that, fine. Interestingly, everything I've read on well done steaks is that it shouldn't be crispy or burnt on the outside; just brown all the way through.

                          I, however, shall continue to ask for my steak medium-rare, or medium at the most, as I feel that's the way steak was meant to be eaten.

                          1. re: LindaWhit
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                            smartie RE: LindaWhit Jun 3, 2009 08:27 PM

                            eating meat to a certain doneness is a matter of taste and opinion. I don't think there should be a holier than thou attitude to how people eat or prefer anything.

                            There is no should or should not about food. We all have preferences, and respect for others is appropriate at all times.

                            And i will continue to ask for my steak extra well done as I do not like seeing blood on my plate, mixing with my vegetables. However, I don't have a problem sitting with other people with food on their plates cooked or mixed or combined to their preferences.

                            1. re: smartie
                              PurpleTeeth RE: smartie Jun 3, 2009 09:31 PM

                              Cheese sandwich for you!

                              1. re: smartie
                                LindaWhit RE: smartie Jun 4, 2009 05:43 AM

                                I'm sorry if you felt I was giving a holier-than-thou attitude; I didn't mean to. And yes, it's a matter of taste. But as I've said, I've yet to see a restaurant put out a well-done steak that was not dried out and hard to cut (and most certainly, being able to "cut it like butter" seems an impossibility in my mind). If you've found a restaurant that can do that for you or can do it yourself, great.

                                But my medium-rare or medium steaks do *not* have blood oozing from it to mix with the vegetables. Properly rested, the juices should reabsorb into the meat, and little or no juice should be on the plate when it's cut.

                                1. re: LindaWhit
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                                  smartie RE: LindaWhit Jun 4, 2009 03:15 PM

                                  a well done steak does not dry out and become tough and like shoe leather if, it's a good piece of meat to start with, and if the cook grills it properly the first time. If they serve it underdone for me and it needs to be re-grilled then as far as I'm concerned it's now garbage. I do despair at steak houses that don't get it well done the first time, it comes to the table, it's medium rare and it goes back to the kitchen for a second firing. I wait 20 mins for my steak to return, all the sides are cold or finished, my friends or coworkers are finished and I get a dried out bit of beef.

                                2. re: smartie
                                  h
                                  Humbucker RE: smartie Jun 4, 2009 08:50 PM

                                  Technically, what you're seeing isn't blood, it's myoglobin

                                  1. re: Humbucker
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                                    smartie RE: Humbucker Jun 5, 2009 05:21 AM

                                    true Hum, but you get my drift.

                                3. re: LindaWhit
                                  bagelman01 RE: LindaWhit Jun 4, 2009 07:33 AM

                                  "that's the way steak was meant to be eaten"

                                  This sound a bit pompous on your part. I for one likes my steak very rare, my ex-wife liked hers well done, but not dried out.

                                  I think my father always had the best answer when he was asked:

                                  "how would you like your steak?'

                                  My father would alway answer---"LARGE"

                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                    LindaWhit RE: bagelman01 Jun 4, 2009 08:08 AM

                                    And if you read my response to smartie, I said I didn't mean it to sound that way. I *did* preface the sentence with "I feel" - meaning it's MY opinion.

                                    Perhaps I should say "meant to be eaten - for ME." Is that clearer?

                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                      j
                                      jhopp217 RE: LindaWhit Jun 6, 2009 08:49 AM

                                      LW, you were correct the first time. Foodie or not, steak cooked less has more flavor than steak cooked well done. It's not opinion, it's fact. Isn't a chef's job to present the eater with the best tasting food. That's why when you go to a steakhouse like Peter Luger or Smith & Wollensky they give you a bit of a dirty look when you order it well done.

                                      1. re: jhopp217
                                        thew RE: jhopp217 Jun 6, 2009 08:59 AM

                                        a chef's job is to present the diner with an enjoyable dining experience. if for some diner it means well done steak, so be it

                                        1. re: thew
                                          bkhuna RE: thew Jun 7, 2009 04:39 AM

                                          I recall going to K-Paul's in the early 80's and hearing a dinner companion ask for her Blackened Red Fish (remember, this was the beginning of the Cajun craze) well done.

                                          The server the patron that she should order something else because Chef Prudhomme cooks it the way he thinks it tastes best.

                                          Maybe that's the difference between a Chef and a cook: a K-Pauls and a Long John Silver's.

                                          1. re: bkhuna
                                            thew RE: bkhuna Jun 7, 2009 05:15 AM

                                            i'd say it's the difference between a chef that remembers he is cooking for someone else and chef that cooks for his own glory.

                                            as mario batali said (im paraphrasing) "as chef's we have to remember however great our creations are, tomorrow morning they're just poop"

                                            1. re: thew
                                              bkhuna RE: thew Jun 7, 2009 05:28 AM

                                              And well done steaks make for poop well done.

                                            2. re: bkhuna
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                                              oystershell RE: bkhuna Jun 7, 2009 11:50 AM

                                              Paul Prudhomme has one of the most elevated palates in the culinary universe. His test kitchen (where you would be surprised as to who enlists his creative tastebuds) is simply amazing. He has a superb line of spices and understands food science like very few.

                                              His concerns are about the integrity of the dish. Served the way it was created and tested. Some get that, some don't.

                                              Charlie Trotter has no problem with such concepts as well. If that is too much for the guest, then opt out.

                                              1. re: oystershell
                                                thew RE: oystershell Jun 7, 2009 12:01 PM

                                                i get it. i fully understand the impulse. but it is called the 'service industry" for a reason.

                                                and steaks and the like are a special case, or else why you be asked how you want it cooked in 99.9999999% of all places.

                                                1. re: oystershell
                                                  k
                                                  KTinNYC RE: oystershell Jun 7, 2009 02:44 PM

                                                  "Paul Prudhomme has one of the most elevated palates in the culinary universe." How do we quantify this statement?

                                                  1. re: KTinNYC
                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: KTinNYC Jun 7, 2009 02:59 PM

                                                    Get out your random number generator and assign him one.

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                      LindaWhit RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 7, 2009 03:06 PM

                                                      If it's in the whole wide universe, the answer must be "42".

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                        k
                                                        KTinNYC RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 7, 2009 04:18 PM

                                                        67,982,704 as per the random number generator on random.org. I'm glad I had my question answered by a man of science.

                                                    2. re: oystershell
                                                      jfood RE: oystershell Jun 7, 2009 03:31 PM

                                                      jfood sees your Charlie and Paul and raises you a Julia and Jean-George. jfood also just got off the phone with Charlie and Paul. They do not remember speaking of such things to you.

                                                      Heresay and conjecture are such difficult pillars to build an argument.

                                                      1. re: jfood
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                                                        oystershell RE: jfood Jun 7, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                        "Heresay and conjecture....." You're kicks. I'm talking food and you're talking architecture. Go play in your kitchen.

                                                        1. re: oystershell
                                                          jfood RE: oystershell Jun 7, 2009 04:52 PM

                                                          Oops that was hearsay, not heresay.

                                                          jfood is not speaking of architecture at all. But if someone uses the names of two great chefs as the point of reference either (a) s/he should be said chef or (b) actually have interviewed and asked said chef with that particular question.

                                                          Noone would question Trotters palate, nor PP in his prime (last visit to K-Paul was less than good) but throwing their names around on this topic is a bit silly.

                                                2. re: jhopp217
                                                  paulj RE: jhopp217 Jun 6, 2009 10:25 AM

                                                  Is it really true that a steak cooked less has more flavor than one cooked well done? Doesn't the Maillard reaction go further in the well done meat?

                                                  I suspect it is hard to separate the texture differences from the flavor differences. Flavor is also strongly affected by additions such as salt.

                                                  1. re: paulj
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                                                    embee RE: paulj Jun 6, 2009 10:33 AM

                                                    The Maillard reaction is about browning and caramelization, usually at the surface.

                                                    When you cook a thin piece of meat so that it is brown and crisp all the way through, the reaction goes further. However, it is possible for well done meat to have a minimal amount of sear.

                                                    When the steak has a gray interior - no.

                                                    1. re: embee
                                                      paulj RE: embee Jun 6, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                      So why is there more flavor in a less well done steak? Is there more flavor in raw meat? What kind of flavor are we talking about, anyways?

                                                      1. re: paulj
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                                                        embee RE: paulj Jun 6, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                        My hypothesis:

                                                        The Maillard reaction creates one layer of flavour. Other layers come from the meat itself, the aging process used, and from seasoning, presalting, etc.

                                                        A well done steak can have a good sear, or no sear, depending on the cook. However, most of the flavourful fat has been rendered out of well done meat (which is why I feel grade is less important) and most of the flavourful juices have been lost.

                                                        An underdone steak may also have much or little sear, but more of the flavourful elements are retained.

                                                        I'm open to alternative suggestions....

                                                        1. re: embee
                                                          paulj RE: embee Jun 6, 2009 11:38 AM

                                                          Sounds like a good incentive to pan sear the steak, and recover some of the flavor via deglazing.

                                                    2. re: paulj
                                                      Caroline1 RE: paulj Jun 7, 2009 07:53 PM

                                                      Actually, there is no true Maillard reaction that takes place in cooking meat to any degree of doneness. What does happen is carmelization. Meat (red or white) just plain doesn't have enough reducing sugars for a Maillard reaction to happen. Carmelization is good....!!!

                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                        applehome RE: Caroline1 Jun 7, 2009 09:06 PM

                                                        Completely the opposite of what is described by Harold McGee and Shirley Corriher. Caramelization is sugars. The Maillard reaction is significantly more complex, going through several intermediate steps, because of the introduction of amino acids which include sulfur and nitrogen. The Maillard reaction happens with foods that are primarily NOT sugar. From McGee: "Maillard flavors are more complex and meaty than caramelized flavors..." On page 779 of his On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, McGee goes into lots of detail, with a complete description of the individual intermediate reactions and a glossary of the resultant aromas and flavors. I won't try to repeat that here.

                                                        1. re: applehome
                                                          Caroline1 RE: applehome Jun 7, 2009 09:58 PM

                                                          Unfortunately, it seems to be a trait of humanity that sometimes things are mislabeled, and the mislabeling comes to be the accepted meaning. You might say it eventually becomes a shorthand for an idea, despite its inaccuracy. For starters, I refer you here:

                                                          "The browning reactions which occur when meat is roasted or seared have often been referred to as Maillard reaction browning. However, lean meat contains very few, if any, reducing sugars. Furthermore, red meat undergoes more extensive browning than does white meat. The browning reactions in lean meat are most likely due to the breakdown of the tetrapyrrole rings of the muscle protein, myoglobin. Thus, the browning of meat is technically not a Maillard browning since it does not involve the reaction with a reducing sugar.
                                                          Caramelization is an entirely different process from Maillard browning, though the results of the two processes are sometimes similar to the naked eye (and tastebuds). Caramelization may sometimes cause browning in the same foods in which the Maillard reaction occurs, but the two processes are distinct. They both are promoted by heating, but the Maillard reaction involves amino acids, as discussed above, while caramelization is simply the pyrolysis of certain sugars"
                                                          ........From: . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard...

                                                          I have at least a couple of books that discuss it as well, but I don't really want to spend the time digging them out and copying them here. It's okay to call the browning of meat a "Maillard reaction," but I just felt it was important that people get the chance to understand that's not truly what is happening, no matter who says so. '-)

                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                            applehome RE: Caroline1 Jun 7, 2009 11:00 PM

                                                            You quote wiki over McGee?

                                                            Ok. I'll type McGee:

                                                            " If fresh meat never gets hotter than the boiling point of water, then its flavor is largely determined by the breakdown products of proteins and fats. However, roasted, broiled, and fried meats develop a crust that is much more intensely flavored, because the meat surface dries out and gets hot enough to trigger the Maillard or browning reactions. Meat aromas generated in the browning reactions are generally small rings of carbon atoms with additions of nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Many of these have a generic "roasted" character, but some are grassy, floral, oniony, or spicy and earthy. Several hundred aromatic compounds have been found in roasted meats."

                                                            In another section:

                                                            "Even more fortunate and complex (than caramelization) are the reactions responsible for the cooked color and flavor of bread crusts, chocolate, coffee, beans, dark beers, and roasted meats, all foods that are NOT primarily sugar. These are known as the Maillard reactions, after Louis Camille Maillard, a French physician who discovered and described them around 1910. The sequence begins with the reaction of a carbohydrate molecule (a free sugar or one bound up in starch; glucose and fructose are more reactive than table sugar) and an amino acid (free or part of a protein chain). An unstable intermediate structure is formed, and this them undergoes further changes, producing hundreds of different by-products. Again, a brown coloration and full, intense flavor result."

                                                            There are drawings and charts showing the molecular diagrams of the aroma molecules, and the flavors produced by the two browning reactions.

                                                            There doesn't need to be a significant mass of carbohydrate to kick off the Maillard reaction, and the forms can be extensive. For example, Herve This mentions "ribose (a sugar known for its activity in cooking that can be released in nucleotides).

                                                            In relation to the original issue of cooked to death meat, I don't think this negates our position in any way. The deliciousness of a great steak cooked medium rare comes from the tremendous variety of textures, aromas, and flavors, from the maillard crust to the pink middle. The juiciness and tenderness are significant components. Well done meat may, in fact, have a deeper maillard reaction - but it misses all those other flavor components.

                                                            1. re: applehome
                                                              Caroline1 RE: applehome Jun 7, 2009 11:27 PM

                                                              Not quoting Wiki over McGee as much as I was quoting Wiki as a way to cop out on wading through all of my cookbooks and clippings to find what I'm looking for. Time! '-)

                                                            2. re: Caroline1
                                                              pikawicca RE: Caroline1 Jun 8, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                              This wikipedia article is simply incorrect (as are so many). applehome is correct. There is a reason why most educators will not accept wikipedia as a source for research papers.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca
                                                                paulj RE: pikawicca Jun 8, 2009 02:04 PM

                                                                I wonder if it really is wrong. I suspect there real fault with this paragraph is that it lacks a citation. It, for example, be based on a legitimate point of contention among food scientists - how much of the observed change (esp. in color) is due to this amino acid and sugar reaction, and how much is due to other changes. Or, how broadly or narrowly do you define Maillard.

                                                                Wiki remains a good starting point for research. This article appears to have received relatively little attention, since for the most part it is not controversial, and not important enough to receive attention from experts. On an issue like this, where there appears to be some difference of opinion, we have to dig further, rather than have a battle of dueling sources.

                                          2. re: smartie
                                            bkhuna RE: smartie Jun 4, 2009 07:57 PM

                                            I hear you, I like my sushi and sashimi well done also, but nobody will prepare it for me that way.

                                            1. re: bkhuna
                                              s
                                              smartie RE: bkhuna Jun 5, 2009 05:22 AM

                                              I like everything well done, toast, toasted bagels, roast potatoes. Maybe I just like the crunchiness of foods.

                                              1. re: bkhuna
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                                                embee RE: bkhuna Jun 6, 2009 09:20 AM

                                                You laugh, but when my wife owned a restaurant, a few customers complained that their vichyssoise was cold. Oy. So they nuked a few cups of vichyssoise and these customers were happy. At least one guy complained that his steak tatare was raw. They made him a nice saute. Whatever it takes.

                                                1. re: embee
                                                  j
                                                  jhopp217 RE: embee Jun 6, 2009 09:37 AM

                                                  I would not have the patience to deal with people like that. She must be a saint!

                                            2. thew RE: ipsedixit Jun 4, 2009 06:05 AM

                                              of course it matters. better meat tastes better no matter how cooked or overcooked it is.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: thew
                                                paulj RE: thew Jun 4, 2009 08:26 AM

                                                Saying 'better meats tastes better' is close to being a tautology unless you are specific about what 'better' means. In the case of grading meat, how is prime 'better' than choice, etc.? Aren't they graded by visual appearance of the whole sides, with a focus on marbling? In a steak, in particular, that interspersed fat adds tenderness (fat is easier to cut), and possibly flavor (since some flavors are fat soluble).

                                                1. re: paulj
                                                  thew RE: paulj Jun 4, 2009 09:23 AM

                                                  yes. thats what i mean. higher graded. and yes it is nearly a tautology. but such an answer was what seemed appropriate to the original question. Who am i to decide that you deserve a lesser grade of meat, because you don't like it prepared the way i like?

                                                  1. re: thew
                                                    paulj RE: thew Jun 4, 2009 10:05 AM

                                                    Are there certain cuts that work better when well done than others? Or conversely, does cooking till well done harm some cuts more than others?

                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                      thew RE: paulj Jun 4, 2009 11:03 AM

                                                      yes, i'm sure. but we were discussing grade, not cut.

                                                2. re: thew
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                                                  jhopp217 RE: thew Jun 6, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                  I totally disagree with this. I can cook a supermarket london broil that tastes better than some people's butcher bought porterhouses. I've made a flat iron steak in a pan that was ten times better than any ribeye I've ever had at a backyard BBQ.

                                                  1. re: jhopp217
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                                                    fourunder RE: jhopp217 Jun 6, 2009 08:58 AM

                                                    I've made a flat iron steak in a pan that was ten times better than any ribeye I've ever had at a backyard BBQ.
                                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                    Sorry to hear you have not been invited to any good backyard BBQs ...or your own to date......:-)

                                                    1. re: fourunder
                                                      j
                                                      jhopp217 RE: fourunder Jun 6, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                      It was more praising my steak cooing skills than a commentary on BBQ's, haha. On a serious note, most people cook for the masses and the masses don't like rare beef. Knowledgable eaters do, but there are fewer of us than you might think.

                                                3. Caroline1 RE: ipsedixit Jun 4, 2009 05:58 PM

                                                  If I know ahead of time that someone likes their steak well done, I roast a chicken instead. '-)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    bkhuna RE: Caroline1 Jun 4, 2009 07:58 PM

                                                    Brilliant !

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      j
                                                      jhopp217 RE: Caroline1 Jun 6, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                      I am currently smiling!

                                                    2. stricken RE: ipsedixit Jun 5, 2009 12:56 AM

                                                      I'd rather have a burned ribeye than a well-done filet.

                                                      1. s
                                                        swamp RE: ipsedixit Jun 5, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                        I agree with Smartie. I like my steaks cooked well regardless of the grade of meat. I don't like a blood red cool center. I like it cooked through and through. We must stop this judging people when it is all about personal taste. You like yours rare, fine, I like mine cooked to a crisp, fine. It's all good.

                                                        My friends actually tease me because I like all of my food well done. I toast my bread till it is charred. I cook bacon until it crumbles. I can't stand grilled tuna that is still pink in the middle, I like it nice and cooked throughout. To each his own.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: swamp
                                                          s
                                                          smartie RE: swamp Jun 5, 2009 03:17 PM

                                                          thank you swamp. And enough of this bashing of those of us who like our meat well done. There are way too many comments telling us what a waste of good meat, and I won't let them eat at my house again rants, and what peasants we are. When did you all become food police and why do you think you are superior for eating meat the way you like it (rare etc) and enjoy making us feel inferior and putting us down? Actually I think some of the comments, no matter how tongue in cheek, are shameful.

                                                          1. re: smartie
                                                            Caroline1 RE: smartie Jun 5, 2009 04:06 PM

                                                            I don't think anyone is bashing anyone. But I do think that those who prefer well done beef may be feeling as if that's what's happening. You may feel my remark about serving roast chicken instead of steaks if I know ahead of time someone wants their steak well done was picking on people, but think of it this way: Why should I pay from fifteen to thirty dollars a pound for USDA prime steak for someone who will be much happier with a nice delicious pot roast? Or maybe a great Beouf Buirguignon or Stroganoff? There are lots of GREAT recipes in which beef is well cooked and to the liking of all, including those who like rare steaks. So why should I (or anyone else) not try to be a gracious host by preparing a menu that EVERYONE will enjoy? If I'm serving a traditional Japanese meal, which sometimes happens, wouldn't I be stupid to plan on sashimi when I know several guests will not be comfortable eating raw fish? Isn't it more gracious to do a nice shabu shabu that everyone can enjoy? I just don't feel compelled to serve very expensive steak or very expensive fish to people who do not appreciate it in its optimum state.

                                                            So let me ask a question to help me understand your position better: Do you think you have a right to demand that I serve you a very expensive steak cooked in a manner that seriously distresses me, or is it okay if I do a nice fully cooked version of beef everyone will enjoy, but that won't put quite as deep a dent in my wallet?

                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                              paulj RE: Caroline1 Jun 5, 2009 04:16 PM

                                                              But is there a universally recognized optimum state, even for an expensive steak? Are people who prefer their steaks rare the only ones who can appreciate prime grade and cuts from around the backbone?

                                                              The people who like their steaks done or well done need to make a better case for why they appreciate a higher grade of meat. Does greater marbling still make a difference? Is there still a fine line between done and over done? Is there a difference between cooking a steak at high heat, and one that is cooked slower? With high heat, the outside may be overdone by the time the center is properly done. With a slower heat, it may be possible to bring the whole piece to proper doneness. Maybe it is even more important to bring the meat to room temperture before cooking.

                                                              There was a debate a while back as to whether it was permissible to use a microwave to cook the center to the right doneness. Most were talking about finishing the meat in the microwave, but I've read about partially cooking the meat in the microwave first, then finishing on high heat.

                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                applehome RE: paulj Jun 6, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                                "But is there a universally recognized optimum state, even for an expensive steak?"

                                                                Who cares. It's not about universal acceptance, it's about Caroline's distress. She's the host, she'd rather not see this horror happen at her expense and in her house.

                                                                Me too. As a host, I feel some level of obligation to make my guests happy - but I won't cross certain lines that send shivers up my back. So I'll do my best to insure that those situations don't come up - after all, it's my house and I can control the outcome.

                                                                As to technique, well done is better when thinner, so I'd cut the steak flat to about 1/2" thick or butterfly it before grilling, and then cook it when the embers are colder - over low heat. You'll get a much more even doneness.

                                                                There are scientific tests done regarding human mastication and detection of tenderness and juiciness. Herve This wrote about the tests done by Clermont-Ferrand in France using mechanical measurements, sensory evaluation and electromyographic measurements. There's just no doubt at all that meat cooked longer is less tender and juicy, and thus less tasty - there are other factors, of course - but given the equivalent piece of meat, butchered and stored identically, longer cooking makes it less tasty. But that has nothing at all to do with whether one actually *likes* their meat less tender and juicy and tasty.

                                                        2. m
                                                          mollydingle RE: ipsedixit Jun 5, 2009 03:34 PM

                                                          I like my meat done medium well, with just a hint of pink. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to get one cooked that way. Most chefs seem to think to think that unless meat is raw and dripping blood, it's overcooked.
                                                          I guess I'm just an uncouth peasant.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: mollydingle
                                                            linguafood RE: mollydingle Jun 6, 2009 06:02 AM

                                                            It's not blood.

                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                              m
                                                              mollydingle RE: linguafood Jun 6, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                              Yes, I know, but , most people refer to the substance as 'blood'.
                                                              There's a difference between knowledge and pedantry...

                                                              1. re: mollydingle
                                                                linguafood RE: mollydingle Jun 6, 2009 10:07 AM

                                                                If this is the first time you've encountered 'pedantry' on any thread on this website, you can't have been around for long. Hounds are a notoriously argumentative, self-important, opinionated bunch.

                                                                Welcome!

                                                          2. jfood RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 04:41 AM

                                                            jfood mrried into a family of well-doners, and over 28 years now has mrs jfood all the way to med-well. And after hundreds of steaks the jfood experience is yes it does matter to them.

                                                            Jfood alternates between med rare and black-blue depending on mood and it does hurt to cook it med-well, but if that is the way they like it, it is jfood's pleasure to make them happy. And mrs jfood can absolutely tell if the meat is not from a good part.

                                                            Likewise he now has her moved from filet to PH and strips, not an easy task. it's a battle but baby steps can do wonders.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                              c oliver RE: jfood Jun 6, 2009 01:41 PM

                                                              Gee whiz, Mr. O was able to move his ex from well done to medium rare in under ten years. But maybe she held a grudge....

                                                            2. e
                                                              embee RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 06:53 AM

                                                              Disclaimer: I like my steaks at various levels of rare, depending on the cut. I like my burgers rare - medium rare. However, I found the sliced rare brisket sold by a local store to be terrible - 195 for brisket, please.

                                                              I feel that using a high grade of meat for a steak to be cooked well done is a complete waste of money. I'll leave it to people like Howard McGregor to to explain the detailed science. When the steak reaches the well done state, all of the juices have been driven off and the proteins have hardened. Whether the meat was prime or canner grade at the beginning, it is hard and dry at the end.

                                                              Sure, it's just a matter of personal preference. If one of 8 at my table wants a well done steak, fine. If most of the group wants a well done steak, then steak simply isn't the right entree for that group when eating at my home.

                                                              Burgers are different. While I can't personally abide a well done burger, I know how to cook a juicy, full flavoured well done burger for someone else. A panade mixed with the meat works wonders. I can also make someone a tasty well done diner style burger by simply cooking it until crisp.

                                                              A well done prime strip steak is silly. I'm not putting down your taste preference. It just makes more sense to serve you something else when I'm cooking. If I make a roast or BBQ brisket, a braise or stew, or a chicken or fish dish, everyone can enjoy it.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: smartie
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                                                                embee RE: smartie Jun 6, 2009 09:29 AM

                                                                It's funny how sensitive you are about this topic. We share something - I have the same problem in the opposite direction when I order a burger.

                                                                The OP was asking whether grade of meat matters when a steak is cooked well done. My opinion is that it doesn't. I'm hardly defining my taste as superior to yours - it just is what it is.

                                                                1. re: embee
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                                                                  smartie RE: embee Jun 6, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                                  and my opinion is that it does matter what grade of meat it is.

                                                                  And you are definining your taste as superior because you wouldn't serve well done meat in your house.

                                                                  1. re: smartie
                                                                    e
                                                                    embee RE: smartie Jun 6, 2009 10:15 AM

                                                                    So why can't we just agree to disagree? Clearly, we feel differently about the impact of meat grade on well done steak. Actually, I think mollydingle makes a good point (below): it's more about cooking skill.

                                                                    If you reread my posts, I never said I wouldn't serve well done meat at my house. I've tried not to personalize this, but you are projecting.

                                                                    I did say that if a majority of my guests wanted well done steak, I would likely choose something else to serve. That's if I'm cooking. If everyone is cooking their own, I would neither care how they cooked it nor buy inferior meat. However, I usually do the cooking. And I ask, again, what's wrong with that?

                                                              2. m
                                                                mollydingle RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 09:40 AM

                                                                I think it does. Good quality meat or produce or shellfish or anything will stand out.
                                                                Method of preparation can bring out the best or worst in any food.

                                                                1. m
                                                                  mollydingle RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 09:51 AM

                                                                  Reading through the comments, I am wondering whether one of the issues involved of well-done vs. rare is frankly, the skill of the chef involved. I'm not criticizing anyone or want to start a flame war, but perhaps folks who like it rare don't mind it being undercooked a tad, while others who might prefer meat a bit overcooked don't get it that way.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: mollydingle
                                                                    e
                                                                    embee RE: mollydingle Jun 6, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                                    You are absolutely right!

                                                                  2. o
                                                                    oystershell RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 10:20 AM

                                                                    Cooking a steak well done is a culinary crime. It loses it's flavor and is a waste of money. That being said, if it makes you happy, enjoy your shoe leather.

                                                                    1. c
                                                                      Clarkafella RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 12:06 PM

                                                                      Of course it matters. A good steak is a good steak, a bad steak is a bad steak.

                                                                      1. c
                                                                        chef4hire RE: ipsedixit Jun 6, 2009 07:37 PM

                                                                        I work in a steak house. High end, not chain, house meat locker - we dry age our own cows. When someone orders well done....we all MOAN....we do it (butterflied when possible to preserve some taste) but really...it's so disappointing to the staff.

                                                                        Honest answer- not meant to offend.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: chef4hire
                                                                          c oliver RE: chef4hire Jun 6, 2009 09:46 PM

                                                                          Thanks for that. But please elaborate. Do you serve a *different* steak to those who want well done? I bet not.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                            c
                                                                            chef4hire RE: c oliver Jun 7, 2009 04:55 PM

                                                                            absolutely not...you get what you pay for...we only have one grade of meat

                                                                            ends, fats, anything that isn't pretty goes into soups, sausages, terrines or family meal

                                                                        2. c
                                                                          Clarkafella RE: ipsedixit Jun 7, 2009 08:18 AM

                                                                          Just for fun, and because we were planning on having steak last night anyway, I decided to do a little experiment. My wife and I out of convenience more than anything, usually both get our steaks medium. The truth is, she actually prefers medium rare, and I prefer medium well, so when cooking on the grill, I usually overcook hers a little and undercook mine a little just because I'm lazy...

                                                                          Anyway last night, because of this discussion, I decided to go all out- I cooked my steak well-done (a char on the outside, no pink on the inside), and hers was as rare as I could make it (char on the outside, bright red everywhere else but the very surface).

                                                                          After letting them rest a few minutes, we began eating, and this is what we decided:

                                                                          The rare steak was juicier.

                                                                          The rare steak was more tender (but not all that much)

                                                                          The flavors were different between the two, but it was inconclusive as to which was better. I kind of liked hers better, and she kind of liked mine better, but we both could have gone either way.

                                                                          But the bottom line was that the rare steak was great, but so was the well done steak. No shoe leather!

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Clarkafella
                                                                            paulj RE: Clarkafella Jun 7, 2009 10:44 AM

                                                                            I looked at a Google books preview of a food science book. It had a table of different meat flavor components, mainly the aromatics (smells) that you detect while eating. Of the half dozen (or so) about half were more prominent at the rare end, others at the well done end. The descriptors of these aromas were things like 'lean raw beef', 'fatty raw beef', 'grainy (as in corn fed)','char', 'stale cardboardy beef', 'livery', etc. So the flavor mix changes during cooking. It is harder to say the flavor is greater or less, unless you focus on one component.

                                                                            It is likely that many diners like the juiciness of rare or medium rare meat, and associate the aromatics that are prominent at this stage with good steak flavor. Since these flavors diminish with further cooking, and others become stronger, they rate the well done meat as having less flavor - less, that is, of the flavor that they want.

                                                                            It is hard to separate flavor from texture and appearance.

                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                              c oliver RE: paulj Jun 7, 2009 11:49 AM

                                                                              Now THAT is interesting.

                                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                                paulj RE: paulj Jun 7, 2009 01:09 PM

                                                                                Table 23.1, p 313 of Handbook of meat, poultry and seafood quality

                                                                                http://books.google.com/books?id=KPUj...

                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                  d
                                                                                  dvsndvs RE: paulj Jun 7, 2009 10:41 PM

                                                                                  Well done steak is as much of an atrocity as white wine with ice. Now, if that is the way you like it, so be it. Just be prepared to have people make fun of you, and please, please don't do it if someone else has paid for your lovely Buttery Russian River Chardonnay, or for your fillet at Cut.

                                                                                  1. re: dvsndvs
                                                                                    c
                                                                                    Clarkafella RE: dvsndvs Jun 7, 2009 10:55 PM

                                                                                    Guess that is fair- I make fun of people who eat their poultry bloody rare...

                                                                                    1. re: dvsndvs
                                                                                      thew RE: dvsndvs Jun 8, 2009 06:13 AM

                                                                                      i make fun of people who drink buttery chardonnays.

                                                                                      1. re: dvsndvs
                                                                                        j
                                                                                        jhopp217 RE: dvsndvs Jun 8, 2009 05:56 PM

                                                                                        I know someone who was given a gift of a very expensive Amarone and told me he put ice cubes in it. I almost died right there on the spot!

                                                                                        1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                          c oliver RE: jhopp217 Jun 8, 2009 06:46 PM

                                                                                          If you didn't buy it or drink it, then why do you give a flip?

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                            j
                                                                                            jhopp217 RE: c oliver Jun 10, 2009 11:46 AM

                                                                                            So if someone bought a beautiful painting and decided to burn it, you'd be OK with that?

                                                                                  2. re: Clarkafella
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    jhopp217 RE: Clarkafella Jun 8, 2009 05:54 PM

                                                                                    May I ask what kind of steak. I could see this being true of a ribeye or a porterhouse, but not of a filet or a flank steak.

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