Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poll Results, a Tie?

What a letdown, the first tie in my short polling career. I thought the ‘goes’ where going to pull through against the old timers, but in the end a few stray votes made things neck in neck. My vote…well…I guess those of you who know me, know my opinion already, but for sake of conversation I’ll leave my personal feelings out of this one. I want to examine the many ways to judge temperature of a steak.

The cheek method, where one pushed his/her finger against the steak and moving from rare to well, feels similar to pushing against ones cheek from the middle of the cheek up towards the nose. The cheek part has a lot of give, where the nose area is stiff.

The thumb web theory; here is an example of the same tactile extrapolation just starting at the inner web of the thumb and forefinger and working up toward the wrist where the wrist area is rather stiff signifying well done, and the web area rather soft and thus signaling a rare temperature.

The thermometer holds a whole new mathematical realm to the equation, where cooking something to 90 degrees is medium rare, assuming a resting period in which the heat permeates the meat. Kind of scientific, but only as good as the thermometer, and the thickness of the steak.

Lastly, and the overall best way to judge steak temperatures at any restaurant is to have a great broiler man. This person is willing to throughout his own perceptions of doneness and based on experience provide a consistent doneness based on the clienteles desires. The broiler man has a lot of pressure, every steak he cooks gets judges, and it either passes or fails, and when a steak fails it gets paraded back into the kitchen, managers poke at it, the expo gives it a nod, other cooks wince and count their blessings it isn’t one of their plates. Other areas of the brigade don’t always fall under such scrutiny. Working the broiler is no glorious job, it’s the hottest spot in the kitchen, it’s bloody, and very much underappreciated. Can a great broiler man provide a steak that is something between medium rare and medium? Absolutely. So why not ask him to do it? I can’t think of one, sorry broiler man, your job just got a little bit more difficult.

Enjoy this podcast from linecook blog, including a discussion about steak temperatures.

11 comments:

Scott Sebastian said...

You also know how I feel about this one. It's something a first year broilerman should be able to handle.

It's all about confidence. A good broilerman almost "wills" steaks to the right temp.

I also would like to add, those Cali boys probably don't serve what I consider a proper steak. I'm talking "steak!" Something thick and juicy, not some anemic hanger or flat iron.

They may have a whole different perspective on it because of the cuts they're serving.

Scott Sebastian said...

Oh, I almost forgot, Spoons? Since when did we start cooking with spoons? WTF is that?????

Michael Walsh said...

Oh scott, thanks for the comments. I do agree with you for the most part. We serve 'steaks' her in the midwest. I can't even sell a flat iron, and when i do i throw temps out the window and tell the servers your getting done perfectly, or overdone. A three inch cut of rib-eye or strip loin, can be cook to temp with plus's.

as for spoons, i tend to use a spoon for liquids, or fluid things, spatualas for more delicate items, and tongs for, ironicly steaks of any temp.

Anonymous said...

YO! I just want a steak! Choose a temp. and stick wit it, there aint no in-between the lines! Steak au poivre, pittsburgh rare! Mo Fo...

Scott Sebastian said...

Speaking of rare. In my entire 35 year career I have never had a rare steak come back too rare. You mo fo's are hardcore.

Just Jim said...

The only reason not to is the thickness of the steak.
A quarter inch, 6 oz NY is going to be difficult to split hairs on for a mid-temp, whether r-mr, m-mw, etc.
Then you factor in the customer that doesn't really know what they want:
"I want it mr-m, but no pink".

cookingschoolconfidential.com said...

Fascinating stuff. None of the chefs at our school (I'm a culinary school student) even have a thermometer, as far as I can see, anyway. They can just glance at a piece of meat and tell you if it is done. And to what degree.

Experience. It counts.

Cheers!

Cory said...

i ignore people ordering temps for steaks.... especially with the hangers lol, in betweens are a pain but resting the steaks is the best thing.... bpg made me hate people's temps on steaks... can i have a pitt rare med well... put my head in the oven...

Scott Sebastian said...

There is such a thing as a 6oz NY?

Ah, ok, no fockin way you're getting it MR+

Michael Walsh said...

Scott, the 6oz Ny is a special at my corner bar,with a bud light it cost $6.99 on tuesdays only...whatever temp u want! lol

Cooking school guy, well, your super genius prof doesn't have anyone to answer to, no customer base, who is gonna call him out on a medium rare, you? This guy could load you full with bull shit and you'll believe him. Give it a few years, get some heat under your belt and you'll understand.

Cory, i can't agree with you more....the more times customers ask for un-realistic things, the more you just ignore the special requests and shoot for the norm. At BP everyone wanted to know why the broiler guy was always pissed, well...because he was held acountable on the invetory sheet as to why 5 of some crazy customers idiotic expectations, and the equally idiotic servers explination rendered one unable to please.


resting is tricky too, not many places actually implement this practice no mater what you see on foodtv. a rested steak can be cooked a fair bit less on the grill opposed to steak that is going straight to the plate. This is one reason i prefer to cook my steaks at home for myself.

Scott Sebastian said...

The first time I see a cook stick a metal probe in a steak his next shift he'll be cutting Romaine and temping the salad dressing.