When you order a steak, the first thing that you get asked is how you want it done. There are several different levels of doneness out there. Some people are confused about all the different levels of doneness and what they mean. Then they guess at a doneness level and it turns out that it wasn't what they wanted. Knowing what they are can really help you get the best experience from your steak.
A good steak house will make sure that they use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the meat. It can be hard to tell what the center of the meat looks like without cutting it open, but being able to stick a thermometer in the middle for just a moment will give you a good idea. Each level of doneness has a different interior temperature level as well as a different color inside. For a rare steak, you want it to have a red center that is cool to the touch. The temperature should be 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Some restaurants will offer an extra rare choice, but not all. Those steaks tend to be only very lightly cooked, and can still be very bloody when served.
A medium rare steak will come in at about 135 F. It will still have a red center, but instead of it being cool to the touch, it should be warm. It shouldn't be as warm as the exterior of the of the steak and the layer of brown from the exterior of the meat should go down a little further.
The temperature of a medium done steak should be about 145 F. The center is now a warm pink. Unlike with lower levels of doneness, the juices that come out when the steak is cut tend to be clearer.
A medium well done steak should only have a faint trace of pink at the center. The temperature should be at 150 F. If the pink is too bright or goes out further from the center of the steak, it is closer to medium done instead of a medium well steak.
When you cut into a well done steak, you should see no pink. It should be a fairly uniform brown all the way through the steak. The thermometer should read 160 F.
Knowing the different doneness level of steak can help you find the one that is perfect for you. Learn more.