By Gene Hall

I think I’ve uncovered a disturbing trend. I go to a lot of luncheons and dinners. Sometimes there is a fine cut of steak at these events—my favorite. However, I’m starting to wonder, does anyone actually cook a steak at these events anymore?

When it comes to steak, I am a “medium” guy of long standing. I like for the middle to be pink with juices running clear. I think it’s an absolute crime to grill a fine piece of steak into shoe leather. My wife cares nothing for my opinion on this subject, and she likes her steak well done.

We both went to a dinner recently where steak was the entree. My wife was served what looked like a thick rib-eye. She cut into it as it struggled to get off the plate and return to the pasture. There’s medium rare, rare, very rare, and “blue,” which to me is mostly raw. The one we got last week was “seriously injured.” The second steak brought to each of us was also bright red, bloody and cold in the middle.

This is not a one-time thing. I’m noticing it at virtually every event I attend when steak is served. The catering industry seems to be trending this way.

There are some problems with this. First, steak is not a prime candidate for foodborne illness like improperly handled hamburger, but a cut of beef that is a stranger to flame is at least marginally more of a risk. Worst of all, raw meat is too chewy, not at all like those delicate pink and tender morsels.

I can think of two reasons why they do this, and I checked with the experts.  First, if you give a diner an undercooked steak, it can always be sent back for more cooking, but every person at our table was served rare.

Optimum temperature for slow cooking a steak is 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Let’s say you’re in a hurry, though. Heat up the grill to 600 or 700 degrees and throw the steak on. It will cook quickly on the outside and remain quite raw inside.

You can cook a lot of steaks in a short time, but they will be charred on the outside and bloody in the middle. Some folks love this and I say, “Go for it.” Either that or run down a deer outside and feed on it.  However, as I looked around, more than half the steak on many plates was rejected. What a waste. Tell us, how do you like your steak? Have you noticed this trend toward “rare” at public events?

I know time and resources are critical to cooking at events like this, and I personally know some folks who do it very well. I’m just saying. Steak is the king of meals. It deserves a better fate.

Cindy Wennin

Cindy Wennin is the Senior Graphic Designer for Texas Farm Bureau.

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