Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Meat Blasphemy – Well-done Steak


Tatoosh
 Share

Recommended Posts

On March 28, 2017 at 3:35 PM, Paul Fink said:

I don't understand the "sharing" problem.

Why can't she have her piece & you have yours?

My wife also likes well done but can now tolerate pink and will deal with red when she has to.   

 

I usually cook seperate portions but somethimes it's just not practical so we both deal with it. After 35 yrs  I'm slowly moving her closer to medium 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, scott123 said:

First of all, you're overlooking an absolutely critical aspect of the protein denaturation equation. Fat.  In lean meat, sure, protein molecules will latch on to each other and squeeze the liquid out, but, just like wheat protein molecules have trouble latching onto each other in fatty pastry crust, muscle fibers have issues latching on to each other in fatty meat. Less cross linking = weaker bonds = less water loss. Well marbled steak, when cooked until well done, is still very tender, succulent and juicy.

 

As Deputy Field Marshal of the Public Ridicule Division of the Logic Brigade of the Secret Steak Police, I feel the need to weigh in here. It has not been my experience that a well-marbled but tender cut (like rib eye) stays sufficiently juicy and tender when cooked well-done. But it has been my experience that people often disagree on the levels of doneness and what to call them, so it's possible we're talking apples and oranges. What temperature are you cooking to?

 

Among the factors that influence perceived juiciness (actual juice, collagen rendered to gelatin, and rendered fat) I believe fat to be a distant 3rd place in importance. It makes a difference, but I don't believe fat can rescue tender meat that's cooked to 170°F. The juices are gone, there's no gelatin, and much of the fat rendered from the marbling is gone as well. I believe it will be subjectively juicier than a a well-done lean steak, but that's saying very little.

 

Sadly, there is much more flavor in the juices themselves than there is in the contracted, dried out muscle fibers that remain. I find that good steaks lose flavor along with texture with extended cooking. Which really speaks to Anthony Bourdain's point, if you go back and read what he says. In his experience, people who order steak well-done will not be able to tell the difference between a good piece of meat and crappy one. So he and his fellow chefs are thankful for the well-done crowd: they have someone to give the butt-end, gristly, less appealing butchery leftovers to, without fear of the steak coming back to the kitchen.

 

And this is where the advice that's often perceived as condescending comes from: don't bother with an expensive piece of meat if you're going to cook it well-done. You're just going to be killing the qualities that made it an expensive piece of meat in the first place. This isn't calling anyone a barbarian for liking the well-done meat. It's imploring them to see it as an opportunity to save money.

 

You see the same dynamics with coffee beans; once they're roasted past medium you can't taste the original bean anymore. Only the roast. So the roasters don't generally bother mentioning the plantation or country of origin of their Vienna roasts. It's irrelevant (and seeing this as a profit opportunity, Starbucks made a fortune convincing people to drink dark roasts. It let them buy cheap-ass coffee). Same story with extra virgin olive oil. If you're going to sauté with it, you're wasting your money. Once cooked in a frying pan, it's going to be no better than a grade that was extracted with heat.

 

  • Like 2

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/28/2017 at 3:19 PM, kayb said:

Would "sharing" extend to buying one steak, cutting it in two, and cooking her half well done and your half the proper way?

 

I have a child who requires a very-little-pink steak. I cringe and cook it for her. I love her dearly, but I draw the line at sharing her steak.

Or buy one steak. Set one grill burner to high and the other low. Grill the steak whole for 7 minutes per side and one half will be well done and the other med rare. Make sure to grill with lid open.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also don't understand the "sharing" thing. Seems simple enough to cook 2 steaks...but whatever. My solutions is that you should stop wasting money on steaks.

 

You'd most likely find much more pleasure in braising a short rib or pot roast or something than spending money on Filet that you are going to cook to well done. A properly cooked braise will be tender, juicy and well cooked. I'm not trying to be snarky but I think that you'll find much more pleasure in eating a braise than a well done steak. 

 

I mean...well done steak...what's the point? The things that make a steak delicious are long gone at the well done stage. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/30/2017 at 3:28 AM, jmacnaughtan said:

 

I disagree.  A lot of the skirt you get here is closing in on an inch thick in places, and it's excellent rare.  It's one of the few cuts I enjoy blue, mostly because there's so little fat :)

 

 

I've been confused about this for quite some time. In his Food Lab article on making the best carne asada, Kenji Lopez-Alt describes skirt steak as a "long, ribbony piece of meat, with a width of three inches or so and a length of at least a couple of feet." This is what I get 90% of the time when I buy skirt from the market (and what I've gotten %100 of the time when buying it online). But occasionally, supermarket butchers sell "skirt" that "is closing in on an inch thick" in places, and looks a lot more like flank to my eye than skirt. I recently got 2 packages of grassfed skirt from my local Whole Foods (where it was butchered) and one package contained 3 very long, thin strips of what I typically consider "skirt." The other contained a single, thick piece of meat that weighed as much as the other three combined. Everything I've read on skirt online seems to think that skirt steak, both inside and out, is very thin and ribbony -- and nothing close to an inch thick. I suspect that there's a lot of flank steak that is being inadvertently mislabeled.

 

Either way, either I need a lesson on bovine anatomy, or many butchers do.

 

In any event, I agree with you that whatever that thick "skirt" steak is, it can be delicious cooked rare.

Edited by btbyrd
Typo. (log)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, btbyrd said:

In any event, I agree with you that whatever that thick "skirt" steak is, it can be delicious cooed rare

 

From googlin' There is an inside skirt steak which is thinner and an outside skirt steak which is thicker.

... first I've heard of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will admit, i am a steak snob when it comes to done-ness. Med-rare or nothing. But i feel i am a hypocrite. I do enjoy(crave) from time to time a charred cardboard sirloin drenched in A1 steak sauce. But the main star in this dish is the A1, the cardboard sirloin is just the vessel. Juices in the steak prevent the A1 from soaking in, so carboard is a must. But lets be clear, carboard, not plastic.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I've been living in Japan for decades now, I understand this problem very well. My husband only occasionally enjoys dishes made from "stewing" cuts, because he doesn't really appreciate the kind of dish where meat taste permeates everything. Meat tends to be quite highly seasoned because it will be a distinctive accent eaten with a fairly high proportion of bland rice or noodles or vegetables. Going for very lightly cooked steak with that serving style is like trying to sub raw tomato salad for salsa or ketchup.

Other cuisines where well-cooked meats accompany starches are a good fit for our table too - Middle-Eastern and Indian dishes, for example.


I think the original poster's problem may be less about cooking methods, and more about cuts of meat - is there any kind of East or SE Asian meat store where you live, or have you considered trying mail order to get the thinly sliced meats that work best for SE Asian food? Alternatively, you could try chilling or partially freezing your meat and slicing it thinly yourselves.

 

My DH does enjoy steak, but he's a well-done guy too - so we save steak for western-style meals where "his" plate's contents never wander onto "her" plate.

Edited by helenjp (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for a fantastic series of answers and responses!  There are techniques and cuts that my wife and I need to explore so we can better handle her well done beef preference and she can still share it with me and others.  Now some of it is beyond our current budget, Wagyu being the most obvious example, but even better cuts sometimes simply can't be funded.  

We do roast beef occasionally.  That is not a problem, braised beef is fine.  I have mine with potatoes cooked along with the meat while she uses some of the remaining broth to flavor her rice.  And there is no provision against cutting a steak into two pieces, then cooking it to each person's preference.  In fact, she did exactly that last time she prepared steak.  So there is movement on her side too.  

I think a choice of steak will help when we can.  More fat is a great thing.  Also how it is cut can make a big difference and  cutting in small slices against the grain will help.  

I love btbyrd's spirited defense of the common view (aka accepted wisdom)  while I must admit being at least slightly tilted to Scot123's side of things, not necessarily on taste or texture, but on the fact that I hate being dictated to and many steak lovers do so quickly claim one's something of a social pariah when well done or even medium well steak is mentioned.  I've always felt that he who pays for the meat and he who eats it should determine such things.  

I am intrigued by Thanks for the Crepes mention of the skirt steaks done by a local Mexican restaurant.  That is very intriguing. I love their menu and the photo of the meat is perfect, my wife would be in heaven!  

I will go over all the great responses, write down the better choices in cuts, and consider our techniques that we may improve the experience.  I am in awe of the time and experience you all  have shared.   

  • Like 2

Perpetual Novice Living Abroad: High in the Cordilleras of Luzon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Helenjp and FeChef, sorry, I did not see the second page when I made my recent post, so I missed  your comments.  I am very familiar with FeChef's A1 sauce approach as that was pretty much steak in the Midwest as I grew up.  Helenjp's mention of the cultural aspect is very spot on too.  My wife's family will do small amounts of their "viand" with rice simply to flavor the bit, instead of eating a large bite on its own.  I had not really thought of that, but very good eye there, Helenjp!   

Perpetual Novice Living Abroad: High in the Cordilleras of Luzon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi:  how about mimicking left overs?  First cook/grill it near blue/rare level, cool it down in the freezer/fridge, then slice thin and fry on some butter to get it well done?  The chill/reheat process then is something akin to stew meat (you know how it gets super tough the next day, and you have to reheat it hotter than it was before you first cooked it to make it tender again), so you'll still end up with tender meat.  Additionally, if it's a sufficiently fatty steak, this will give it some tasty maillards. 

 

Perhaps a variation here is to slice it up, maybe the broadside, and fry that up to maximize the maillards...

 

Or ask the butcher to run through a tenderizer...? 

Edited by jedovaty (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave Arnold addressed a related topic on a recent Cooking Issues podcast. He was addressing steak cooked sous-vide, in vacuum bags (like me, D.A. almost always uses ziplocs; this only applies to vacuum-sealed meat). 

 

Meat cooked in a vacuum bag, especially if it's purchased in cryovac packaging and cooked in that same bag, of if it's transferred directly from the store-bought cryovac to your own vacuum bags, tends to appear more rare than it is. He points out a number of ways in which color is an imperfect indicator of doneness, because factors besides temperature affect the color. He suggests letting the meat breath ... ideally, pre-sear it, and let it sit out for a while before vacuum bagging it. You'll lose a shade or two of blood-red with a medium-rare steak. 

 

It's about the reactions of oxygen with myoglobin. When meat is its normal raw-red, you're looking at oxymyoglobin. When it turns the ruby-purple-tinged, Tarantino crime-scene red of vacuum-packed meat, that's deoxymyoglobin.  And when you're looking at the grey-brown of overcooked (or overoxidized) meat, that's metmyoglobin. 

 

We can probably come up with other ways to exploit this phenomenon.

Edited by paulraphael (log)
  • Like 1

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...