Is a Well-Done Steak Really a “Crime Against Food”?

It seems that Hank from King of the Hill doesn’t have a high opinion of people who like their steak well-done, and while I wouldn’t be asking people to leave the barbecue just because of the way they like their steak I have to admit that I would be inclined to agree with Hank on his preference for how steak is cooked. As a lover of barbecue food and steak in general a well-done steak just seems wrong to me, you’re simply taking all the benefits that a good steak has on the taste buds firmly away.

We’ve all been at a restaurant where the steak is well-done. It tends to leave a dry and flavourless slab of meat on our plate that is as tough to eat as a car tyre. After all, what’s the point in ordering a steak if you’re going to miss out on all the delicious flavour that the juices bring, because if you leave it on for too long all those lovely juices are going to disappear.

Jay Rayner wrote on The Guardian website that “a well-done steak isn’t a food choice: it’s a crime” and that we must show “respect to an animal if you’re going to eat it”. I’m not saying you should eat it rare, I’m not particularly fond of blood still dripping out of my steak either, but you need to cook it just right so that the juices remain. So I say that the best way to do it is medium rare, “firm but with a little give” as Hank points out.

Grilling steaks overdone


“But what about food safety!” I hear you cry. Cooking steaks medium-rare, or even cooking them rare, don’t mean that you’re going to get food poisoning. Bacteria like E.Coli actually live on the surface of the steak and not the inside, so cooking the outside will get rid of them. It doesn’t matter that the inside is pretty rare as the bacteria wasn’t there in the first place. It’s different with ground meats like burgers though, you should cook those well-done to be safe.

If someone at a barbecue is insisting on having a well-done steak then maybe it wouldn’t be polite to ignore their demands, because it’s clearly their right to have their steak cooked however they want it, but try suggesting a medium-well steak instead. Here the centre of the steak will still be a little pink, retaining some of the juices. If they really want to have a well done steak though then buy a cheaper steak for those who want this option. There’s no point in spending a fortune on a steak for someone who isn’t going to get the most out of it and most likely won’t notice the difference anyway.

Of course, it’s still up to you which way you have your steak. Some people may enjoy well done, and that’s their right as everyone has different tastes, but to me you may as well be cooking your trendy leather shoes on the barbecue grill for all the difference it makes. If you need a barbecue still then check out our huge charcoal barbecue range here.