Don’t cook a steak past medium | Food Drink

Anything past medium rare is an insult to steak.

That’s what Oak Forest resident Anna Bonnette said about cooking a cut of steak, and she’s not alone. Other residents described cooking a steak past medium rare as a slight to the animal and that to keep it cooking it is more like making dog food or beef jerky.

This made me laugh. Mostly because I imagined what their faces might look like if they heard how my mom orders her steak. I’m not joking in the slightest when I say she often tells the server, to demonstrate how done she wants it, to burn it or butterfly it if they have to.

I can’t let myself off the hook either. I once only ordered my steak well done. But I was younger then and only knew how my mom ate her steak. Nowadays, any amount of pink is fine with me, but I can’t get behind a puddle of blood on my plate.

After asking residents in a local Facebook group what measure of “doneness” was the best for a steak, I saw that I wasn’t alone on the blood issue. It’s a split opinion. One resident said, “If it’s still bleeding it ain’t dead,” while another said if the steak wasn’t twitching when it hits the plate it’s been cooked too long.

But the general consensus on the most a steak should be cooked is to medium, with medium rare being the most regular answer.

“Definitely much more flavorful with medium rare. The natural juices make it to where you don’t need any steak sauce at all,” Deena Alcorta said.

Anything medium rare was a favorite because it was said to retain a richer flavor and be a juicier and more tender meat.

Rare wasn’t to be left out. Rare was the first choice for a few who said that rare meat is more tender, easier to digest and has a velvety texture that melts in your mouth.

What restaurant they were at also was a big factor on how residents ordered their steaks. I can relate in that what restaurant I’m at determines if I order steak at all, even if it is considered a “steakhouse.” (I’m looking at you, Outback.) It really comes down to what restaurants people trust.

“(I order) rare if I’m going to a place who actually knows what they’re doing. Medium rare elsewhere,” Andy Tomczeszyn said.

Jonah Margulis said something similar, saying he’ll order medium rare most places, even high-end ones, but if he’s at a place he really trusts, he’ll order steak rare.

Then there’s the issue of ordering a steak one way, but it getting to the table cooked a different way. For example, a few people mentioned that they found most restaurants overcooked medium rare. I personally think this boils down to individual ideas of what each level of “doneness” means compared to the chefs.

Because while people mentioned that restaurants seem to cook a little over what’s asked for, I’ve always felt the opposite, that however I ordered my steak, it comes out a level below. So, I think it’s important to ask the server what each level is going to look like from that particular restaurant.

“Restaurants don’t seem to trust that diners understand what a rare steak is,” Mike Vance said. “We do. Believe us, and don’t ruin my cut of meat.”

Vance also said he’s firmly in favor of anyone who orders a steak well done being deported to West Virginia, so I guess I’ll have to send my mom there pronto.

“It seems like a lot of the time if I order medium rare I get medium (or medium well) and then it’s too done for me,” Penny Lane said. “I prefer the texture and flavor when it’s truly medium rare, I don’t enjoy the texture if it’s really rare/raw, but it’s starting to dry out if it’s medium or beyond.”

For Betty Richardson and Christine Mill, what the steak is served on matters. If she knows the steak will be served on a sizzling hot platter, Richardson will order her steak rare because it will continue to cook on the plate. Mill, however, asks the server to do away with the sizzling platter completely because she said it can ruin a perfectly cooked rare or medium rare steak.

While well done is a rarity, my mom wouldn’t be alone in her deportation to West Virginia. Kasey Smith also likes a well-done steak when cooking at home, though at most restaurants, she’ll order medium well.

“I’m just one of those weirdos that finds a good sear and some burny bits very satisfying,” Smith said.