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Steak Compass

Always get your steak cooked perfectly!
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I hate it when that when ordering a steak there are limited accepted descriptions for how you liked it cooked (Blue, Rare, Medium Rare, Medium, Medium Well-done, Well-done, Burnt etc) so I suggest a steak compass.

So like a traditional directional compass you can have degrees of cookedness.

I would suggest that Blue is zero degrees and burnt is 359 degrees on the circle so you can choose to order your steak by degree (hmmm a nice 87 degree fillet please) or by name (I'll have a rare rare medium fillet please). With Rare at 90 degrees, Medium at 180 degree and Well Done at 270 degrees.

Even better you would be given a wooden stick with the wheel on it and you can mark how you would like it done and then put your table number and name so you'll definitely get the right steak back!

toipet, May 12 2008

here's a chart http://en.wikipedia.../Temperature_(meat)
don't burn yourself [jaksplat, May 13 2008]

[link]






       [+} but I don't think steak is a good material to make a compass out of. No matter how much iron you feed the cow, I foresee problems in getting any meaningful magnetic effects, unless of course cows have some ability, like pigeons, to sense magnetic fields.
sninctown, May 12 2008
  

       Are you so choosy that you can actually detect the difference between, say, a 90 and an 87? If you can, is it possible for the staff to consistently get it exactly right? I usually order "Well Done" because of its absolute definition, and often settle for a much-less-than Well Done steak that arrives at the table.   

       You'll find a greatly simplified version of this at a churrascaria. You get a card or token, and flip it to green to designate "more", and red for "stop". It's more a coin than a compass.   

       The "compass" analogy is no good. You need a Steak Spectrum ranging from "0" to "359" (or whatever). The difference between 359 and 0 on a compass is one degree. But in this idea, 359 is "burnt", and one more degree "zero", is a frozen steak.
Amos Kito, May 12 2008
  

       Problem is, for steak there's more than just the "rare/medium/well done" continuum.   

       It's also got to do with how hot the griddle was. For instance a very hot griddle will set up a very steep interior/exterior cooked-ness profile. Slow-cooked steak will just about be of homogenous cooked-ness.   

       Fer-instance, If I'm having a middle-of-the road strak like rib fillet, I'll use a medium heat and go for ~med-rare, producing not-too-cooked surface and nice pinkness throughout. Then again sometimes I'll get my butcher to cut me 1.5" rib eye or scotch fillets, which I will do at max heat, producing a steak that is almost crisp on the outside, ranging to rather very rare at the core. Divine.   

       So, if you want to be reall specific, you'll need at least two variables for your steak order, and will need to know the steak's thickness beforehand.   

       As an aside, there is a chain of steakhouses in Australia called "Hog's breath" who advertise "the world's best steak" or something like that - it's slow cooked for a couple of months or whatever it is they do. Ok it comes out nice and tender, but to me it tastes like roast beef. It might come out exactly as you "ordered" ie medium rare, etc, but it's just not the same. I want to taste the 8-years worth of built-up scunge on the griddle, damnit.
Custardguts, May 13 2008
  

       Custard Guts: I would hope that the chef would know how hot the grill is and how thick the steak was and would cook the steak for the correct time to achieve what is marked on the compass...   

       Amos Kito: I wouldn't know the difference between 87 and 90 but i do know that i like my steak at about 112 between a medium rare and a rare ie a rare rare medium
toipet, May 13 2008
  

       If the idea is to avoid confusuion, rather than create it, I'm for it. Imagine a table of 10 people, and a waiter calling "Who had the 112? OK, and who had the 183? ...87? ...171? ...?" And now patrons begin saying "This is definitely 90, not 87", and another, "I specifically said 110 not 112"... I wonder how long that compass will continue to be in the business plan.   

       I actually think something like this would be great for breakfast eggs. There's such a huge variety, a simple way to specify them might be good.   

       Welcome to the halfbakery, toipet!
Amos Kito, May 13 2008
  

       What [Custardguts] said. Two variables; I always order "No black on the outside, no pink on the inside" so I'd have to wait a bit longer than he would.
lurch, May 13 2008
  

       I have yet to meet the waiter who can parse "pink but no blood"
Voice, May 13 2008
  

       I have yet to meet the waiter who can parse "pink but no blood"
Voice, May 13 2008
  

       The last thing [Amos Kito] said.
Voice, May 13 2008
  

       i always go for burnt on the outside and still mooing on the inside... but I never get it that way :(
FlyingToaster, May 13 2008
  

       I like the general notion, but find the word "compass" misused to describe it. There seems nothing directional in what you're describing.   

       Unless it's an acronym for "Correctly Ordered Meat Pan Assessment Selecting System," in which case it's prime (sorry!) HB material, but I still have to remain neutral.   

       I'm with [FT] on steak preference.
csea, May 13 2008
  

       csea: I called it a compass just to try and make my life easier when describing it -all other suggestions very welcome   

       Amos Kito: re the confusion, thats why your name goes on the stick too
toipet, May 13 2008
  

       [toipet], how about "Steak Thermal Energy Gradient Analyzer?" This reduces to "stega," meaning "hidden" as in steganography. Kind of showing the hidden internals of your steak.   

       One could use an array of thermocouples on a probe placed through the thickest part of the steak, and allow the diner to observe on a tableside monitor.   

       I realize this is different from your intent simply to describe your preferred steak, but I think the problem is a bit more complex.
csea, May 13 2008
  

       sorry, but thtis is baked. It's called a meat thermometer.
jaksplat, May 13 2008
  

       jaksplat: baked at home yes but not in a restuarant - i've never been asked what temperature i would like my steak!
toipet, May 13 2008
  

       Problem is, that (for most people) a properly cooked steak does not have just one temperature (wikipedia notwithstanding.)   

       The initial temperature; dimensions, ageing and type of meat of the steak; the temperature and thermal mass of of the grill; whether the grill was at temperature before putting on the meat, or turned on after the meat was placed; and probably several other factors all have a bearing on the final product.   

       "It's a rare steak that's well-done"
csea, May 13 2008
  

       ... it's a well done steak that's rare.
FlyingToaster, May 13 2008
  

       Weird. Where do you eat? I've worked in quite a few restaurants and whenever I cooked steaks, the orders came in with a temperature: rare, mid rare, medium, mid well or well. And the only time I've eever used a meat thermometer was in restaurant kitchens.
jaksplat, May 13 2008
  

       No amount of compass is going to make a poor cook be able to cook your steak the way you want it. If you want to be sure of what you get either cook it yourself or keep looking until you find a place where the staff know what "medium well" means to most people.
Spacecoyote, May 13 2008
  

       Perhaps with careful alloying, a real compass would be used, and when the needle reached its Curie Point, the meat would be considered cooked.
I'll have mine nor' by nor'east.
coprocephalous, May 13 2008
  

       Spacecoyote got here before I did, but I second. If you're that particular, stay home and cook it yourself.   

       But to address the idea, I can't imagine that it would work out well in a restaurant. And totally unnecessary in a true steakhouse.
Noexit, May 13 2008
  

       [Jacksplat] - I'll say this slowly so you can hear me clearly. There are more factors in play than just rare/medium/well done. Did you not read the numerous comments alluding to this? And who decided that "rare" = X degrees celcius or whatever. Shirley you are just saying how well cooked the "rarest" portion of the meat is? - That's not enough to guarantee the steak is how I like it.   

       Ultimately, I think three scales should be enough. One scale for how well cooked the surface is, one for the centre or core, and one for the "gradient", or how sharply it transitions from the raw-er centre to the cooked-er outside. There would be other ways as well, I just think this would be fairly workable. Ie "crispy skin, rare in the middle with a sharp transition" ie cooked-ness concentrated towards the outside surfaces of the steak <which would of course be done with a rather hot griddle, BTW>. Conversely I might like well done <but not crispy> surface, rare in the middle but with a gradual taper of cooked-ness. <I don't usually do this but I reckon you'd use a medium heat, start with cold steak, give it a nice sear for starters then drop the heat and flip a few times. or something like that - not my cup of tea, but whatever>   

       Factors that the chef would have to consider in order to meet this requirement would include the thickness of the steak, which cut/the density of the meat, cooking time, number of turns, heat of the pan and whether you adjust the heat during cooking, thermal mass of the pan, oil/no oil, temperature of the steak before cooking, how "blood-soaked" the meat was, and a few others. Maybe I care a lot more than the chef, and should just do this at home <as I already do> but it would be nice for a so-called steakhouse to actually spend some effort trying to be "steak experts" - one logical way would be to offer custom steak like this.   

       ....but then again I'm an engineer and have a problem with precision, system design and quality control <or lack thereof>.
Custardguts, May 14 2008
  

       I'm sorry, but this is way too much over handling of a simple matter. Which is great for the bakery, yada yada. But, bone.   

       [marked-for-deletion] magic. Does not specify how the device would work.
daseva, May 14 2008
  

       Hey, don't bone [toipet]'s idea just 'cause I'm an argumentative pedant. That 'aint right.
Custardguts, May 14 2008
  

       I'm referring to the original post as per the reason for boning. Please, excuse my misleading timing. I can assure you that it is not your arguments that sway me.
daseva, May 14 2008
  

       //... have a problem with precision, system design and quality control <or lack thereof>.//   

       Custurd Guts: spoken like a true engineer. I'm wondering how many of the comments here are from anybody who is a chef or works in a kitchen? I've cooked a lot of steaks in several different restaurants, and as a professional chef with fifteen years restaurant experience I can tell you exactly how we judge the levels of doneness on your "three scales".   

       1. Surface: Sight. When the steak has been marked it changes color. You don't need any extraneous device to tell you what temp the exterior is. It is the easisest part of the steak to judge.   

       2. Center: Touch. Squishy with blood and juice pouring out means rare. Firm and dry means well. They taught me to compare the toughness to parts of my hand, Knuckle = firm, palm = squishy.   

       3. Gradient: the only way to check this is to cut into your steak and see the gradient. I don't know of any restaurant that asks the customer how would they like their gradient. And I've never had a customer who cared about such a thing. It seems like a very nit-picky thing to try to control when you are going out to eat.   

       I would suggest that the next time you order a steak at a restaurant, go to a place that asks you how you want it cooked. If you've never been asked, then you're probably going to restaurants that are run by engineers or something.
jaksplat, May 14 2008
  

       I think you missed my point. An engineer would ask you a dizzing array of questions in order to very accurately ascertain EXACTLY what you want your steak like.   

       My point was that I would like to go to a restraunt that had spent the time to work out methods for preparing a steak exactly the way I like it. It's not a dig at chefs, except to say that the whole "rare/medium/well" scale is a pretty simplistic and qualitative method of classifying the end product. Not to say that your steak isn't excellent. Sometimes I like it "just the way I want it" that's all. And I can't tell you exactly how I want it using the simple "rare/medium/well" scale. It's just not enough information.
Custardguts, May 14 2008
  

       I say it's too much information. Things are complicated enough in restaurant kitchens, without adding extra levels of detail for chefs to pay attention to. If you think that the chefs have all the time in the world to devote to perfecting every molecule of your steak, then you obviously have no idea what goes on in the average commercial kitchen.   

       BTW, I'm not boning this idea because it might be an okay gadget for someone to have at home, where a cook can spend all the time they want in preparing their meal. Most chefs I've met don't even bother using the meat thermometer when they get slammed, so I can imagine this item would end up lying forgotten in a drawer full of unused utensils.
jaksplat, May 14 2008
  

       The Idea is great but completely irrelavant. If most places give me a medium when i ask for a medium rare, how the hell are they going to hone in on a rare medium rare?   

       *Indignantly* I asked for an 82 sir, and this is clearly an 85!
MikeD, May 14 2008
  

       // i always go for burnt on the outside and still mooing on the inside... but I never get it that way :( //   

       Double :( :(   

       Cut hickory into 1" and 1 1/2" inch sticks. Put a lot of them on your grill grate, on top of a whole bunch of 1/4" hickory sticks. Light with newspaper. Wait until it burns to coals. Meanwhile, take the 1" steak out of the fridge and have it ready (fresh pepper).   

       Make sure the grill is too hot to hold your hand over for even a second and a half. Crisp the hell out of the steak on the outside. If it is running blood transfer to a 400 F oven for a couple of minutes.   

       Or do it mark Bittman's way - in a cast iron skillet.
nomocrow, May 14 2008
  

       I like the wood aspect. One could have the compass stick protrude up and out of the steak. The wood would be white on starting. It would cook with the steak, and return toasted to a determined level of brown, corresponding with cookedness of steak. This would have to be some sort of special wood, which wouldbe part of the sales pitch. It would be sharply pointed. One could pick ones teeth with it afterwards, should one be so inclined.
bungston, May 14 2008
  

       I think [csea] had a good idea with thermocouples, and I'm off to post an idea based on this one. I'll give credit to [toipet] and [csea].
normzone, May 08 2009
  

       Ooh, I do like this idea - i suppose I'm one of those that's picky about how their steak is done. I always ask for very rare, and rarely get it. The vampyrical idea of the little wooden stake for your steak (woodn't work) but funny!   

       My teeth are itching at the idea of a nice, juicy steak now...
Frankx, Dec 03 2009
  
      
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