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Well-done steaks

Question:

A lot of my guests ask for well-done steak. What cuts can I serve that hold up to thorough cooking on the grill? 

– Osei Blackett, Chef-Owner, Picky Eaters, Brooklyn, NY

Answer:

For a cook, each order for a well-done steak can be a sad experience.  You watch it sizzling on the grill, moving along the continuum from the point where it’s juiciest and most flavorful (medium rare for my taste), to a rubbery piece of shoe leather.  But hospitality is a service field and if it’s well done the guest wants, it’s well done the guest gets.

Still, there are some tricks to make your well-done steaks as tender and juicy as possible.  First, start with a tender well-marbled cut that can hold up well against the long cooking process.  I like skirt or hanger steak.  Bob del Grosso, Chef-Charcutiere at Hendricks Farm and Dairy in Telford, PA, recommends a dry rub to preserve moisture: “Dry-rub the steaks with salt or salt and sugar at least four hours before they are to be cooked. Salt enhances the ability of the protein fibers to hold onto water. Sugar also reduces water loss and, because it slows down coagulation of the muscle proteins, helps to keep the meat tender.”

Dry rubbing also provides an opportunity to replace some flavor lost by thorough cooking.  Adding flavorful ingredients to the rub like:

  • chili powder, dried marjoram, and lime zest
  • Indian-style spices like cardamom, ginger, mustard seeds and cumin, or
  • bulgogi-style hot pepper, garlic and sesame seeds

can yield not only a well-done steak your guests will enjoy but can be the backbone of a strong menu concept.

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