Steak: done to perfection

Know the level of doneness you like when grilling steak.

The arrival of Summer is synonymous with grilling season. There is, obviously, no better food to grill than a steak. With it comes the level of “doneness” you prefer! When talking about steak doneness, one is referring to how thoroughly cooked a cut of meat is based on its colour, juiciness, and internal temperature.

The first thing to consider is the type of steak you are grilling, its thickness, as well as the temperature (heat) of the grill. From rare to well done, each level has a specific temperature, which can be measured with a meat thermometer. Before we get to each level of doneness, there are a few things to keep in mind. Always make sure your steak is at room temperature before you grill it (about half an hour should suffice). This will ensure the meat will cook properly. When checking the temperature to know if the steak is done, stick the thermometer probe in the thickest part, away from fat or bone.

Now, let’s see the level of doneness:

  1. Rare – This is the one true “carnivores” love. It is almost raw with very little cooking. A rare steak should be warm through the center, lightly charred on the outside, browned around the sides, and bright red in the middle. Temperature: 120 to 130 F or 49 to 55 C; 5 then 3 minutes per side.
  2. Medium Rare – Considered the best level for a good steak, the medium rare steak is warm through the middle with most of the center pink in colour with a little hint of red, the sides are well browned, and the top & bottom caramelized to a dark brown. Temperature: 130 to 135 F (55 to 57 C); 5 then 4 minutes per side.
  3. Medium – This is the level of doneness the majority of people choose. A medium-cooked steak should have a thick band of light pink through the middle but have more browned meat than pink overall. The sides should be a rich brown color and the top and bottom charred darkly (but not black). Temperature: 140 to 150 F (68 to 74 C); 6 then 4 minutes per side.
  4. Medium- Well – If you don’t like to see a lot of pink on your meat, this is the level of doneness for you. It has just a hint of pink in the very middle of the steak with a dark brown surface and good charring on the top and bottom. Temperature: 155 to 165 F (68 to 74 C); 7 then 5 minutes per side.
  5. Well Done – This level will present a bit of a challenge because it is for those people who don’t want to see any pink on the steak. The challenge is to achieve this level without having dried meat. So, grill it low and slow – it won’t burn and the centre will be cooked. It should not be burnt on the outside. Temperature: 170 F or more (77 C); 12 then 10 minutes per side.

No matter the level of doneness, it is important you let your steak rest for at least five minutes after cooking.

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