Temperature for Steaks

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A meat thermometer definitely answers the question of whether the steak is done.
A meat thermometer definitely answers the question of whether the steak is done. (Image: porterhouse steaks on grill image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com)

One stereotype of an American dad is the apron-clad backyard cook, smiling over a hot, smoking grill. The mark of any good grill man is the ability to produce a steak cooked to the taste of each eater, from rare to well done. This coveted trait can be achieved by anyone, by simply monitoring the process, starting with the temperature of the grill, and more importantly, by owning and using a meat thermometer.

Rest the Meat

After committing to using a thermometer, be sure to remove the steak from the grill before it reaches the desired temperature and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it. This resting step allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak and prevents dried-out meat. Following the standard cooking guide will produce properly cooked steaks, but bear in mind that the meat will continue to cook while it rests, causing a rise in temperature of 5 to 10 degrees.

Desired Doneness

A rare steak should be cooked until the meat reaches a temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a bright red, cool center. A medium-rare steak, cooked to 130 or 135 degrees, has a warm pink center with edges that are beginning to brown. A medium steak, cooked to 140 to 145 degrees, is hot throughout, with a light pink center and brown around the edge.

Well Done

Well cooked refers not only to a perfectly grilled T-bone but also to a desired internal temperature of steak. Medium-well indicates a steak cooked until all the pink is gone, which is achieved by reaching a temperature of 150 to 155 degrees. Anything cooked over a temperature of 160 is considered well done.

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