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Everything You Need To Know About A Steak’s “Doneness”

on November 15, 2018

When you’re cooking a steak, you have to pay close attention to its internal temperature. This is the tool you use to figure out a steak’s doneness.
When you cook your meat, this is what you’re doing:
First, you’re breaking down the meat’s proteins. This includes muscle proteins, which are tightly balled, that begin to unwind. Ever wonder why the rawer a steak is, the chewier it is? This is why!
Second, you’re actually evaporating water, which makes up the majority of a steak’s muscle fibers. When you cook a steak, that water starts to evaporate. This is the reason a well-done steak has less juiciness than a rare steak.
Third, you’re melting fat. When you cook your steak, the small internal streaks of fat start melting. When this happens, fat gets absorbed into the muscle. This is what makes your food so flavorful and gives it a smooth, tender texture.
So, what do the levels of doneness mean? Let us break it down:
Blue Rare (115°): Also known as Very Rare or Blood Rare. These steaks are seared on the outside, so the inside stays raw and uncooked. They’re usually cool inside, and are warmed at a low temperature in the oven.
Rare (120°): Rare steaks have a center that’s both warm and very red. This keeps a tasty flavor at the surface. Rare is a great choice for low-fat steaks, like tenderloins.
Medium Rare (130°): Want the best tasting, most tender steak? Ask almost any chef: They’ll say Medium Rare. This steak’s fat has definitely had a chance to melt at this temperature, which delivers a buttery flavor with a tender, juicy and plump texture. You’ll recognize it with a red center and a pink ring between the center and crust.
Medium (140°): A medium steak is pink throughout most of its body and has the buttery flavor of Medium-Rare steaks. One difference is it has less juiciness and tenderness from moisture loss.
Medium Well (150°): With a little bit of pinkness and tenderness, this steak loses enough moisture that it’s drier and less tender than most others. This makes it a less popular choice for steak lovers.
Well Done (160°): At this point in the cooking process, enough moisture and fat have evaporated or leaked from the steak to make it very dry and tough. Much like the well done steak, many people don’t prefer this level of doneness.
Not sure how to serve different types of steak? Here’s your quick go-to guide to four of our favorite styles of steak and how you should enjoy them:
Rib Eye: This steak has a reputation for being delicious and flavorful. Plus, this cut of prime rib is truly mouth-watering and very juicy when it’s cooked medium at the most. For the best final result, keep in mind that rib-eye is best when it’s cooked medium-rare. If you’re not sure how long to cook, keep a 1-inch steak to about a 6-to-8-minute time limit before letting it cool.
New York Strip Steak: This steak can be found at the heart of the beef loin and is extremely flavor-packed. The best way to serve it is medium-rare, so don’t cook it more than about 6 to 8 minutes—for the average strip steak.
Sirloin Steak: Sirloin is one type of steak that quickly becomes tough when it’s overcooked because it’s a lean cut of meat. is a lean cut of meat, so it can easily become tough if it’s overcooked. For a sirloin that’s juicy and tender, juicy sirloin steak, never cook the meat past medium. Pro Tip: Top Sirloin tastes amazing when served rare.
Filet Mignon: This popular cut of meat is well known as a cut of beef that’s fork-tender. It comes straight from the heart of the tenderloin and to full it, make sure that you cook the steak to medium or less. (It tastes even better at medium-rare!)
Ready for the perfect plate of meat, cooked to the perfect temperature? At Atlas Steakhouse, our chefs know steak. They always deliver the perfect meal that’s cooked exactly to your preferences. Not sure what you like? Talk to our skilled staff and they’ll help suggest the perfect choice.