What's the Difference Between Rare, Medium, and Well-Done Steak?
What Are the Levels of Steak Doneness?
- Well done: Grayish-brown with no sign of pink. It's usually slightly charred on the outside. Cooking a good steak to this level of doneness is a challenge. It has to be done slowly on low heat, or else you end up with shoe leather.
- Medium well: Mostly gray-brown throughout, but with a hint of pale pink inside. Good for someone who wants an ever-so-slightly juicy steak, but detests any sign of "blood" in their meat.
- Medium: A more pronounced band of pink in the middle of the steak. However, there should still be slightly more gray-brown than pink coloration.
- Medium rare: Warm and has a mostly pink-to-red center. Firm on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside.
- Rare: Cool or warm red center. It's nearly like raw meat, but obviously cooked on the outside.
- Very rare or blue: Red, cool, and practically raw. It's barely cooked for the true carnivores amongst us.
- Raw: I think this one is self-explanatory. Die-hard carnivores can go for this.
Isn't Eating Undercooked Meat Dangerous?
When it comes to things like chicken, pork, and ground beef, yes, definitely! But the risk for steak is different. If a cut of steak is going to have any bacteria, it's just about always going to be on the outside. Steak doesn't contain the parasites that plague chickens and pigs. However, the outside should be cooked and handled with clean instruments.
Ground beef, on the other hand, is going to have bacteria spread throughout. You are more likely to get E. Coli by eating undercooked ground beef. Go for a well-done hamburger.
Our biggest worry with chicken meat is salmonella. It's very common for chickens to carry salmonella, which permeates its flesh. The only way to kill the salmonella is to thoroughly cook the chicken meat.
Undercooked pork is potentially even worse than undercooked chicken. There's a risk of developing trichinosis as a result of eating undercooked pork... if the pig was infected the larvae of a trichina worm.
But I Don't Want My Steak to Bleed!
People who love rare steak usually fend off this objection with, "It's not blood, it's MEAT JUICE!" (Or they just grin carnivorously and say that the "blood" is the best part.)
The squeamish people scoff and throw up a wall of skepticism. "Yeah, right. So what exactly IS meat juice, anyway?"
That "meat juice" is mostly water, fat and myoglobin. Did you know the real reason raw meat looks so red is because of myoglobin protein in the muscles? Contrary to popular belief, it's not because of the hemoglobin found in blood.
A quality steak that's been properly drained and cleaned should contain hardly any blood at all, even when it's served rare.