From premium fast food chains to the merits of margarine, there’s a lot to debate about in the wide food world – but perhaps there’s nothing quite as exciting as how cooked a steak is.
Aside from the sheer science of whether certain cuts of steak are healthier than others (or…not), the measure of maturity is a matter of personal preference that diners tend to stick to — and rigorously defend against naysayers. While customers are always technically right, and opinions about the unripeness of steaks are a personal matter, there are still some hard facts that shouldn’t be ignored.
From rare to well cooked, there is a wide range of cooking options for steaks of all cuts, and each temperature preference comes with its own pros and cons. The fact of the matter is that even if you’re dining at one of the best steakhouses in the country, the maturity makes all the difference in the end product.
Simply put, the more a steak is cooked, even if it is a first-class cut of steak from a high-quality chain of steakhouses, the more the integrity of the product will be impeded or hidden. Spoiler alert: Well-cooked steak is something you should never order at a steakhouse.
At Rare Steakhouse in Encore Boston Harbor, this is a dogma to live by. The fine steakhouse, which takes meat quality so seriously that maturity is literally cooked in its “rare” name, is about “redefining the creations of classics and exceptional cuts”.
Rare Steakhouse has one of Boston’s most comprehensive – and impeccably sourced – steak selections, featuring elite Japanese selections from Kagoshima Prefecture, and local cuts from the likes of respected Snake River Farms in Idaho. Of course, when a restaurant goes to great lengths to ensure maximum quality, no one has to cook the meat in the skin. And the reasons, according to Executive Chef Kyle Pradesh, are crystal clear.
He told us, “The reason a good ripening isn’t the best is the loss of flavor, fat, and juiciness, promoting a dry, tough texture after simmering after about 140 degrees.”
Conversely, while overcooking steaks can result in meat being unpleasantly dry and chewy, a deviation toward the other end of the maturity scale can lead to more palatable results. “It’s texturally pleasing, and you savor the flavor of the meat,” Pradesh says of the benefits of cooking rare to medium-rare steaks. “The fat will melt completely while you enjoy your steak.”
For proof, the chef suggests ordering two 24 ounce casual cowboy slices, and doing a side-by-side test for taste and texture by getting one medium-rare and one medium-well. The difference, says the chef, “would be huge for you to lean more toward the benefits of less-cooked steaks.”
Pradesh’s sentiments reflect a long-standing ethos in the restaurant industry in general, about the notorious problems of undercooked steaks. Anthony Bourdain himself wrote a famous article called “Don’t Eat Before You Read This,” shedding light on the harsh reality of overcooked steak.
In a brutally frank essay, he said, “People who demand their meat well-cooked do a valuable service to those of us at work who understand the cost: they pay for the privilege of eating our trash.” He explained a kitchen tradition called “keeping for good dishes,” in which cooks “find a particularly undesirable piece of meat—hard and full of nerves and connective tissue, from the hip tip of the loin, perhaps smelly and slightly aged,” they keep when a customer orders a steak. Well cooked meat. of.
It confirms vague rumors about restaurants deliberately using inferior cuts of meat for good orders, which in itself should dissuade from ordering anything overly cooked. Because at the end of the day, no amount of béarnaise or lobster tail can mask the lousy texture and flavor of a dried steak. And whether or not you order a filet from a high-end, chef-driven concept, like Rare Steakhouse or a regional chain like Texas Roadhouse, the difference a few notches can be enormous.
Matt Kerouac is a travel and food writer and culinary school graduate, with a passion for national parks, all things Disney, and road trip restaurants. Read more