“How would you like that cooked?”
Answering this question doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Knowing how to match different temperatures with different cuts is the key to ordering the perfect steak.
While choosing temperature really comes down to personal preference, there is a science to a perfectly prepared steak.
The Maillard Reaction is used to explain the chemical and physical processes of cooking. It’s essentially the chemical reaction that occurs when proteins and sugars in your food interact with heat to produce new flavor, texture and color.
When it comes to steaks, the Maillard Reaction is what gives you the perfectly brown sear, heavenly aroma and delicious, tender bite. However, when you’re ordering at a steakhouse, you don’t have to think about the Maillard Reaction: the chef’s have it covered.
Your job is picking the steak and the temperature.
Rosebud Steakhouse Temperature Levels:
- rare = red, cool center
- mid-rare = red, warm center.
- medium = pink center
- mid-well = slightly pink center
- well = cooked throughout
The first, and most important, thing to know when ordering off a steakhouse menu is that leaner cuts can be cooked more rare, and fattier cuts can be cooked at a higher temperature in order to achieve a more elevated flavor.
If you want a leaner cut, order a top sirloin or filet mignon. Opt for a medium-rare to rare temperature for a soft, melt-in-your-mouth bite. When you turn up the heat for leaner cuts, the meat loses flavor and tenderness.
If you’re ordering a fattier cut, like a ribeye, a higher temperature allows the fat to render and the flavors to move throughout the steak for a perfectly juicy, tender bite.
When it comes to choosing a temperature, there are several levels to choose from. While most steaks are cooked best medium-rare to medium, let this be your guide to understanding the different levels of doneness. Next time your server asks your temperature preference, you’ll know what you’re talking about!