Great Tip: Testing Steak Doneness

CATEGORIES: Informational Posts, Sara

With Memorial day coming up, I’m sure lots of you will be out braving the grill so I thought I’d share one of the coolest tips about cooking steak.

Admit it- how many of you have served up a steak that looks like it was attacked by Freddy because of all of the knife marks in it from when you cut into it to see how done it was? Or how many of you just guess and end up hearing a faint “Moooo” from the still living slab you just slapped on your plate, or result something so dry you need a gallon of Brazilian lemonade to shove it down. (Yes, that was just a shameless plug for Brazilian lemonade).




  1. Happened upon this link while looking for a quick reference to show a friend on cooking steak. I have a -slight- correction for you:

    “The absolute best way to test meat doneness is with a meat thermometer.”

    This is true if you’re cooking professionally and have to ensure your steak reaches the appropriate temperature for service (145°F) or you’ve hired monkeys (line cooks) to cook for customers. However, chefs in fine dining restaurants don’t use thermometers.

    Why don’t professionals in fine dining restaurants use thermometers? Well, the thermometer can only give you the temperature of the inside of the meat, which is nice and all, but that can vary based on how long you let the meat temper (come to room temperature after removing from refrigeration) and how high the heat is (which is never exactly the same each time you cook). Another, probably MORE important reason is that you don’t poke a hole in cooking meat for the same reason you wouldn’t poke a hole in a waterbed.

    When cooking, the molecules in steak are in motion, bouncing around. This includes liquid; ie the juices. When the steak is still on the grill, if you poke it with a thermometer, you’re going to lose a lot of the juice, and that means a lot of the flavor and tenderness.

    This is also the same reason why, as Maureen mentioned, you should ALWAYS let it rest after cooking. The resting time depends on the cook time, but for most 9-12oz steaks, I’d say about 3-4 minutes should be sufficient.

    Oh, and one last little hint: Steak cooks best over medium heat, not high heat. You’ll get a more consistent doneness if you let it cook a bit slower (unless, like me, you want a nice caramelized outside with a rare center: do that with high heat).

  2. Another thing to remember to is that the meat will continue cooking after you take it off the grill. So make sure the meat is rested and definitely not cut into until it has rested to prevent the drying out. I find that it cooks another half step between the grill and the plate.

  3. Well, I’ll be… you learn somthing everyday!?! What a wonderful thing you’ve taught us! I have leanred many things, thank you. Keep up the good work. I’ll be back!

  4. I know, you can totally tell he’s hot just by the knuckles, eh? 😉

    Kate- I agree, it is hard sometimes for thermometers to work on small cuts of meat.

  5. Look at you, smart girl! I’ll have to try this next time because my steak’s always overdone (for me) and Sam’s is always underdone (for him) and BOTH are full of knife marks. And it seems like my meat thermometers don’t work as well in small cuts of meat.

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