Steak Tempertures

Joined Mar 14, 2010
Hello I work at a Hotel Restaurant and I'm still new the the Line and Steak Temperature I know what all the temperature are,but I cooked a NY Strip steak the other day and they wanted it well done I felt it and took the Temp and it was 161F thats Well done so I sent it out but it was medium. The thermometer was correct and I did let the steak rest away from the head before checking the temp. How can I not make this mistake again? Should I buy a fancy Hi tech thermometer. I also know you can tell by feel and blood color so how do you tell what temp a steak is cooked?
Joined Aug 21, 2004
I use a digital thermometer to tell me temperatures, it is the five fingers on my right hand.

If you are using an actual thermometer, make sure it is calibrated correctly. Make sure you are aware of where on the probe or stem the sensing device is so that you can insert it deep enough to get a correct read. Your 161 may have been a surface read instead of an internal read.

Who said the steak was medium? Diners' opinions vary as to what constitutes different degrees of doneness. It may have been textbook WD, but not in the diner's eye. Did you get to see the steak after it had been cut?

My advice is keep using a thermometer, but use your fingers at the same time, so that you can become familiar and comfortable with what a R, MR, M, etc. feels like. Cooking is and should be a very tactile and sensory experience, not to mention if you are working a busy grill doing 300 dinners of meat, poultry, and fish all going out at different times, who has time for a thermometer?
Joined Mar 14, 2010
Well acually it was one of the Hotel Beverage Managers that wanted to test us 2 rookie line cooks We did see the inside it was medium to medium well it had a small line of darkish pink.
Joined Aug 6, 2010
theres should be little to no blood coming out of a well done... or at least it shouldn't look like blood. I tend to find that with a thermometer it's tough to tell in a thinner cut of meat. Best thing to do for wd is to cook it extra just to be sure. Medium has a little wiggle room, as does rare, but wd has to be done done.
Joined Mar 3, 2010
i know the feeling i began working on line not long ago and part of the position is doing the grill. strips are kind of tricky cause they are pretty stiff when u cook them. when rested you can tell a little better. a digital thermometer would be esier. i just been trying to learn by touch, good luck though.
Joined Jun 28, 2010
Doneness is actually told at temperatures rather than color technically. A well-done steak could be red and a rare could be brown however the customer is usually more worried about look than temp. If you are sure you got a good read may want to talk about getting your steaks bled a bit more before butchering.
Joined Feb 7, 2010
Are you sure that when you spiked the meat with your thermometer that you actually spiked the temperature at the center of the steak?  If your probe went say 3/4 into the meat (rather than dead center) then your temp would read the outside edge temperature rather than the center.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
By touch is still the best way because you do not put a whole in steak so it does not bleed out  Top of your thumb is med well to well, middle thumb is medium,  as you squeeze lower its med rare , and all the way to bottom fleshy soft part of thumb is rare. Practice makes perfect. My menus always stated ""The kitchen took no responsibility for steaks ordered well done.""
Joined Feb 13, 2008
The problem wasn't temping, it was resting.  If the well done steak had been allowed an extra couple of minutes of rest, the juices (such as they were) would have had the opportunity to redistribute themselves equally instead of congregating in the center and making the steak appear rarer than it actually is.   

Modern instant read thermometers with their thin probes will not make steak "bleed out" as long as they're not used repeatedly in the same piece of meat; and they are invaluable for meat which can't be press tested accurately for whatever reason.  Still, press testing is a heck a lot of quicker, just as accurate, and a skill well worth mastering.

Joined Aug 15, 2003
You could also make sure your thermometer is calibrated. Man, well done steaks are like the easiest thing in the world to cook :)
Joined Apr 2, 2007
I agree with the resting, it is so important to rest meat before sending it for a number of reasons. One other consideration, it is very difficult to cook meat straight from the fridge, always keep a few out at room temperature as chilled meat will throw out your cooking times and it will never come out right.
Joined Aug 26, 2010
Does your health inspector give you any problems about this?  Do you mark the steaks or container with a date/time that they were set out?  I see a lot of violations around here for holding at wrong temps (which could be a fridge reading 41 instead of 40), but just trying to understand if your health inspector "gets it" or not.  I'm in the middle of the sticks, so I may need to "educate" mine.
I agree with the resting, it is so important to rest meat before sending it for a number of reasons. One other consideration, it is very difficult to cook meat straight from the fridge, always keep a few out at room temperature as chilled meat will throw out your cooking times and it will never come out right.
Joined Apr 2, 2007
I think it is fairly common knowlege that meat should be brought to room temp before cooking but it is not always practical to do this in a commercial kitchen, I understand where you are coming from. If you are cooking an 8 or 10oz piece of beef tenderloin that has been stored at 40F and you put it straight on the grill you will have massive problems getting it to well done or evenly cooking it to medium, on the other hand a thinner NY strip will be much easier to control.

Common sense and experience have to come into play too and yes the steaks and containers that have been left out should be marked but they are not always. Any decent chef should know the quality of the meat and how it has been stored, if there is any doubt it should be thrown out.

As for the health inspector, we have an Environmental Health Officer,  along with a "Scores on the Doors" system. Each establishment is inspected and awarded between one and five stars which should be displayed at the entrance of the restaurant, the British public can then decide if they want to eat there. The less stars you have, the more frequently you will see the EHO. In my experience the EHO's here "get it" I have four stars and have not had a visit in over a year.
Joined Nov 23, 2010
I am starting to learn/get the feel of doneness by hand; when it's really busy like a Sat nite, there isn't really time to keep using the thermometer over and over.  In addition I've had some wonky reads with the thermometer and I don't really trust it.
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