So your cool, rich uncle just sent you a box of Kobe Steaks, and being the great person you are, you invite your friends over for a steak dinner. As the meat is sizzling on the grill, you ask everyone how they would like their steak cooked. “Rare”, Gloria says, ever the carnivore. “Medium-well”, says Phil. Ok, that’s not a good choice for this quality of meat, but he’s the only one suffering. Then it happens. Greg, f*#king Greg, who puts ketchup on mashed potatoes, opens his stupid mouth and says “Well done, please.”
Your first instinct is undoubtedly going to be to brain him with a cast iron pan, but wouldn’t it be easier to just give him a concise list of reasons why he is an unsophisticated mouth breather for wanting to reduce a beautiful cut of meat to a hunk of shoe leather? Well for your benefit, and Greg’s safety, here is just such a list, giving you 5 great reasons you shouldn’t eat a steak cooked past medium rare.
It’s Perfectly Safe
Let’s get this out of the way first. Some people think that eating a rare steak is dangerous. Undercooked meat can have a host of dangers, such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and depending on the type of meat a variety of parasites.
However, a fresh cut of meat from a reputable source is unlikely to have any of these parasites due to strict health codes that are enforced in most meat processing facilities.
Furthermore, a comprehensive study conducted by the UK’s Meat and Livestock Commission determined that dangerous bacteria couldn’t survive being cooked to rare. The trick is making sure that your utensils are clean, as the only source of bacteria found was from the tongs used to flip the meat. Simply dipping them in ethanol is sufficient to make sure they are safe.
It Tastes Better
The problem with overcooking a steak is that it is just objectively worse the longer it is cooked. The longer a steak is cooked, the more flavor runs out into the pan. The natural moisture and taste evaporate. The muscle fibers in the meat tighten and get harder to chew through. Rare or Medium-Rare are really the way to cook a steak for the best flavor and texture.
You could have the finest cut of meat in the history of meat and cooking it well would make it impossible to distinguish from a week old slice of sirloin. You could have a steak cut from the supple body of a cow raised on a steady diet of cask-aged Guinness beer and grain grown in the fields of Elysium, mystical home of the souls of Greek demigods, and it would still taste like a $8 frozen steak from the supermarket if both were cooked to well done.
It’s Better For You
There is also evidence that meat cooked at higher temperatures contains more carcinogenic chemicals. Meaning that well-cooked steak may actually increase your cancer risk more than medium rare steak.
Ordering Well Done Steak Makes You Look Unsophisticated
Most people in the know about meat agree that the steak should be cooked medium-well. If you’re at a table in a steakhouse and order yours well done, then you’re instantly going to see some eyes rolling. The waiter is going to think, “This guy’s a moron and will probably be making my job harder when he complains about the meat being chewy.” The other people at the table will think, “Has this guy never eaten a decent steak in his life?” Finally, your date will be thinking, “Really, well-done? Do I really want this man’s inferior seed anywhere near my ovaries?”
Get it medium-rare like everyone else.
Restaurants Will Give You An Old Steak
So let’s say you ordered your steak well done anyway. The waiter punches it in and it prints out back in the kitchen. The chef is going to read it and immediately select the worst cut of meat he has.
As Dan Schroeder, executive chef at Forum says, “If that is how they like it, then we will be happy to cook it for them. I know that at a lot of places, if you order a steak well-done, you will not get their best steak. Say you have sirloins, all 12 ounces — the nicer ones will be saved for the rare, medium rare, and medium. Then as you get closer to the vein end, you will use those for meat that is cooked over medium.”
Think about it from the chef’s perspective. You have this steak you were going to throw out, but someone actually prefers to have their steak cooked into a flavorless crisp. So, why use a new, nice cut of meat when they won’t even be able to tell?
And if it’s the color that turns you off of the steak, remember that that red juice flowing out isn’t blood. It’s actually just a mixture of water and a protein in meat called myoglobin.
So why not give a medium-rare steak a chance? You’ll probably find there’s a reason that most people prefer it that way.