The difference between rare, medium and well-done steak

December 13, 2023
steak

When considering nutritional content, there is no distinction between a rare and a well-done steak. The variance lies in flavour and juiciness. Steak doneness is typically categorised based on colour, juiciness, and internal temperature. So, what sets apart rare, medium, and well-done steaks?

Rare

Embarking on the rare side of the spectrum, we find ourselves in the territory of bold flavours and uncharted territories. A rare steak, cooked for a brief period, boasts a cool, red center—a tantalising stage just beyond raw. Contrary to common misconceptions, rare steak poses no health risks, as steaks lack the parasites found in other meats. For a culinary adventure, indulge in a rare sirloin, a lean cut that demands only a brief encounter with the flames to preserve its tenderness and juiciness.

Medium Rare

With a warm, pink to red center, medium rare steaks offer a perfect marriage of warmth and juiciness. The exterior is firm, providing a delightful contrast to the succulent interior. Consider a ribeye for this stage—a mere 6–8 minutes of culinary alchemy results in a super-flavourful, juicy cut of prime rib.

Medium

Medium steaks present a more pronounced band of pink within a grey-brown center. This stage caters to those who prefer a heartier bite while retaining a touch of pink juiciness. 

Medium Well

For those with a penchant for a slightly juicy steak without a trace of blood, the medium-well stage is a sweet spot. A whisper of pale pink amidst the grey-brown landscape creates a balanced culinary experience. The T-Bone steak, cut from both the loin and tenderloin, accommodates a longer dalliance with the heat, resulting in a culinary creation that caters to diverse palates.

Well-Done

Culminating in the well-done stage, steaks achieve a charred exterior and a greyish-brown interior devoid of any hint of pink. Slow-cooked to maintain tenderness, well-done marvels captivate with their bold flavors. A well-done filet mignon, cut from the heart of the tenderloin, embodies the pinnacle of culinary mastery, ensuring each bite is a testament to dedication and perfection.

steak

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The cooking time guide:

The journey through rare to well-done isn’t just a matter of personal taste—it’s a science. Understanding the recommended cooking times for each stage ensures a symphony of flavours in every bite. According to Restaurant Samson’s Paddock, the time guide to cooking rare, medium and well-done meats is as follows:

  • For a rare steak, a brief encounter with the flames—just enough to sear the exterior—suffices. 
  • Medium rare demands a bit more time, typically around 3–5 minutes per side on a hot grill. 
  • Moving to medium, an additional minute or two on each side transforms the steak into a heartier experience. 
  • Medium-well, with its subtle pink hues, requires an extra minute or two per side. 
  • Finally, well-done steaks, charred and exquisite, are slow-cooked to perfection, typically 5–7 minutes per side.

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How to pan fry a steak

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