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Jun 3, 2009 07:11 AM

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

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. 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. 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

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


        1. re: ipsedixit

          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

            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

              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

              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

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: chileheadmike

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

              1. re: dvsndvs

                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

                  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. 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

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

                The question was more directed towards the home cook.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  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

                    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. 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. my friend's in-laws, it makes no difference.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ricepad

                    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!