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Is it Healthy to Eat Rare or Medium-Rare Steak?

If you’re going to shell out big bucks for a fancy dinner, you want your food to be prepared flawlessly. When it comes to steak, though, there are often differences in opinion about what the “perfect” preparation is. Everyone has different preferences about how well done they would like their meat to be cooked.

Most high-end steak chefs and connoisseurs agree that the worst mistake you can make when it comes to cooking red meat is to overcook it. Overcooked steak tends to be tough, chewy, and devoid of tenderness. In fact, you’re likely to see any estimable waiter at a quality steakhouse cringe at the sound of the words “well done”.

But is the alternative safe? Many people are wary about ordering steak per the chef’s recommendation for fear that the outcome will be steak that is too rare and therefore could be dangerous to eat. What guidelines should be followed when it comes to eating rare steak?


Dangers of Rare Meat

The main danger of rare meat is that it might not reach a high enough internal temperature to kill any bacteria that may be in the meat. Ideally, meat should reach an internal temperature of at least 145°F to ensure that it is safe for consumption.

Making Safe Choices

In general, steak that is cooked to at least medium rare doneness can guarantee that it has reached an internal temperature that makes it safe to eat. If you prefer your steak rare, there is a slightly higher risk — but this is still the preferred method of steak preparation for countless aficionados out there.

Your best options for eating rare steak are to do so at a high-quality and reputable steakhouse. In such establishments you can rest assured that chefs are well-educated about the different cuts of meat, the risks of eating rare meat, and the best practices for reducing associated risks. In particular, delicacy dishes such as Beef Carpaccio or Steak Tartar that feature raw meat should only be consumed at high-end restaurants with a flawless reputation.

If in doubt, ask the waiter to ask how the chef recommends a given cut of meat should be cooked. While there are instances where choosing to consume raw meat comes associated with few risks, there are other instances where it should be avoided no matter how nice a given steakhouse is.

Finding a High-Quality Steakhouse

Looking for a top-shelf steakhouse that meets all of your needs for superior cuisine, excellent service, and knowledgeable staff? Check out reviews online to find the best value option that will meet all of your expectations. At a high-quality steakhouse you can rest at ease knowing that you and your dinner party are in good hands. If you prefer your steak in the rarer side, it’s even more important to find a steakhouse with a highly professional and reputable approach to steak preparation. There is obviously something to be said for steak that’s rare or medium-rare, but no matter how well it’s done, the important thing is that it’s done right.


Is Rare Steak Safe to Eat?

As a carnivore, there’s nothing quite like sitting down to a meal of delicious steak and veges, but when it comes to steak, if you don’t get the cooking right, it can ruin the entire meal. According to YouGov, 2% of Americans like their steak burnt to a crisp. On the other end of the scale, 2% like their steak “blue” (extreme-rare). Around 11% eat rare steak, and 23% enjoy medium rare; compared to 13% medium, 16% medium well and 24% well done. So, what is the best way to have steak – and is eating rare steak actually safe?

To answer these – the best way depends on the cut (and your preference); and yes, eating rare steak is certainly safe, as long as you avoid cross-contamination, and fully clean your kitchen utensils. A study from the University of Nottingham found this after intentionally spiking samples with E.coli! Yes! They stacked the deck and the only time this bacteria survived in rare cooked steaks was in the case of unwashed utensils. A rare steak is safe!

The Safe Preparation of Meat

The first step in preparing any type of food is ensuring that your preparation area is clean and disinfected. The same goes for the utensils and other cooking equipment that you will use.

It’s up to you to determine what seasoning you use or, whether you cook it in butter or oil. However, we’re still going to advise you – you can give it a try! Please note: your meat should be room temperature for optimum results.

Your frying pan should be heated to medium-high heat. Allow it time to heat up before you add the meat. Instead of adding oil to the frying pan, instead brush your meat with oil. Chef Marco Pierre White suggests crushing a beef stock cube and mix it with the oil before brushing. The length of cooking time will be determined by the size and cut of the steak, as well as your cooking preference. We will address this later.

You should only turn the steak once. This will help seal in the juices and avoid dry meat.

How can you tell when it’s done? It’s all in the feel! Quite literally, you can use your hands to figure out how well (or not) your meat is cooked. You can use your utensil to press the meat and compare it to your hand. Feel the area between your thumb and palm – that’s what rare meat feels like. Bring your pinky to your thumb and feel that area. That’s what well-done feels like. Rare is how it feels when you bring your index finger to your thumb. Alternatively, you can use a food thermometer and you’ll find a handy guide here.

Allow it to rest for a few minutes before you dig in.

The Right Cook For the Right Cut

Every meat is different. Of course, preference will always come into play, but the majority of meat-eaters, chefs, and butchers tend to agree on which cut is right for which cook. Let’s break it down.

Rare
Flatiron steak
Top sirloin steak
Medium-Rare
Ribeye
New York Strip
Porterhouse
Flank
Sirloin flap
Top round
Chuck eye
Hanger
Filet mignon
Medium
Chuck flap
Skirt
Chuck short rib

Bear this in mind the next time you’re in a restaurant and the wait staff asks you how you like your steak cooked. Of course, you can experiment at home with the right cut and the right cook and determine your tastes as well.

So, what do these meats look like when cooked? You have probably heard someone mention or reference a blue steak. What does that mean? It’s literally just warm. The meat will look almost purple. Rare, on the other hand, offers slight spongy resistance and is dark red and juicy. While the medium-rare does offer slight flowing juices, it’s only pink and has a slight spring. If you prefer your steak pale pink with little juices, then medium is the right option for you. Finally, well-done. Done properly, a well-done steak should still be moist and juicy with a slight trace of pink.

When you’re cooking, you should remember how the weight and size of your steak dictate the cooking time. We can offer you a guideline, based on steaks that are 3.5 cm thick.

Blue steak
cook for just 90 seconds on each side.
Rare steak
each side should be cooked for around two minutes and 15 seconds.
Medium-rare
cook for three minutes and 15 seconds on each side.
Medium
cook for four and a half minutes on each side.
Well-done
each side should be given around five minutes on each side.

These cooking times should be altered for thinner or thicker cuts of meat.

Meat to Avoid Rare

Certain meats should not be eaten rare. In particular, ground meats, whether it’s beef or otherwise. The reason for this is the grinding process can introduce new bacteria to the surface of the meat. So, the burger place that brags about serving rare burgers? Either give it a swerve or insist on a well-done burger!

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