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How Do You Like Your Meat?

May 15, 2009

Lucky for me, I don’t tend to go to steakhouses very much.  If you have access to excellent dry-aged prime beef, and you have some skills manning a hardwood fired grill, why go out?

But on those rare occasions I do make it to a temple of beef, I will try to order something I cannot make myself.  Given that I do not have access to a 1800 degree oven, I would never even attempt to make a steak black and blue.  That I save for the experts.  For this preparation I choose the filet.  And yes, I know, it is not the beefiest steak, but for me this is an exercise in contrasts, textures and temperatures that I enjoy.  So sue me.

I’ll save my bone-in rib-eye for the grill, since it needs to be cooked a little bit longer to really melt the connective tissue.  Yum.

This question comes to me with the most frequency when ordering my beloved hamburgers.  Oh, how I love hamburgers.  But as I have gotten older, and more married, and have children to live for, my arterial health has taken on a greater focus.  Don’t get me wrong — I still eat burgers, just not as often.

What this means is that each burger is a much more precious thing than it ever was before.  I enjoy them when they are medium rare: pink all the way through with a cool center.  It would sadden me, literally sadden me, if I cut into a burger and the only pink to be found was at its center.

Life is too short to eat a bad burger, but despite my fussiness I really do not like sending food back.  First, if I’m out for a relaxing meal I do not want to deal with the aggravation of the conflict.  Second, if I’m out I am probably with other people, and by the time my burger is re-cooked everyone else will be done with their meals.  Either way, I’m not going to enjoy my dining experience.

So, I have a rule:
Always order the burger one degree of doneness below the desired temperature.

I enjoy my burgers medium rare, so I order them rare.

Generally, based on this guideline the burger comes out perfectly on the rare side of medium rare.  And if it’s a little more rare than I would have preferred, it certainly beats the alternative.

If I am going to send a burger back, I would like there to be no doubt that the burger was indeed overcooked.  There can be some perceived wiggle room between medium rare and medium.  Some may falsely lay claim to “pink in the center” as medium rare.  However, there is no mistaking rare for medium.

If all goes well I get a delicious burger, plus the added bonus of keeping my ugly fussy side out of sight from my dining companions.  The wisdom of eating meat deemed unsafe by our protectorates in Washington is a topic for another time.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2009 10:20 pm

    In my mind there are two types of burgers on this lonely lump of rock that us food-bags dwell upon. I agree with you, any burger thicker than 1/2 an inch should be beef of the cut off its horns, wipe its ass, and walk it around a warm room rare variety. But I also have a love for the greasy dive, spatula squashed, 1/4 inch thick burger. You know what I am talking about, the almost quarter pound, gray mess of a hockey puck, impregnated with anemic squares of fried onion. Griddle fried and greasy on a sickly sweet, white bread bun. Give me that bad boy any day, that is an American burger.

    • May 16, 2009 10:21 pm

      I know exactly what you are talking about. Grease Bombs. And you are right, when done well they are marvelous. I put this post under “restaurants” and differentiate their product from what is essentially “fast food” weather it comes from a chain or an independent operator. These kinds of burgers I eat with much less regularity that the ones discussed in the post, but I do plan to talk about them at more length in a throw-down of In-N-Out Burger vs. Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries.

      Thank you for the delicious thoughts.

  2. Annie permalink
    May 16, 2009 2:52 pm

    Wish you were here, in Argentina, to eat all the ‘melting connective tissue’ your arteries could muster. Speaking of which, it’s in the news that Argentine beef is at a shortage (the farmers have more incentive to plant soy) and there is talk of importing beef from the US. ??? crazy. Economic pressures are making industrialized farming look like a good idea here. Sound familiar? yck

  3. May 19, 2009 8:39 am

    I order my burgers the same way. Rare, when I prefer med-rare. The only place that consistently serves them at their proper temps for me has been O’Brien’s. Everyone else has had a lot of wiggle room. Personally, not a big fan of ordering 2 rare burgers and getting one medium and one medium-rare.(although for some reason 5 guys’ is cracktacularly addictive at well done)


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