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Old 14.07.2019, 15:45
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Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Some context: I'm a big meat eater, and I come from Texas and grilling steaks is one of my favorite things to do.

I have some family meeting me in Zürich here in a few days, so I made a reservation at the best steak-house I could find (through word of mouth), but I've noticed during my time here so far that most steaks I order seem to be much closer to U.S Rare than I would expect.

On the menu here, it says that a Medium Rare steak is 44-48c which translates to 111.2-118.4f However in the U.S a medium-rare steak is typically between 130-135f.. Even the USDA recommends steak to be cooked at 145f (U.S Medium) for health reasons, which is 62.7c here, or nearly "Well done" based off of the steakhouse menus.

We consider a "Very Rare" steak to be 120f and even though I've gotten steak here in switzerland that was far closer to the Very Rare scale than the Medium/Medium Rare I would expect, I've never seen meat that was still "mooing" at me as some would say.

Which has got me wondering what the actual difference is and what the numbers really mean.

I know my family members like steak at right about 135f, or 57c, so should we order medium well instead of medium rare, just skipping medium all together? I would hate to spend over 100chf on a steak just to have it cooked in a manner where it won't be the best it can be.


thanks for any help.
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Old 14.07.2019, 16:41
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Why risk it, then?

Why don’t you take them somewhere for typical local dishes (if they like meat then the Zeughauskeller is a good example)? That way they get their meat and it’s cooked the way it’s meant to be for that particular dish.

Have to say the steaks I’ve had here have been perfectly cooked to my liking (medium rare) but I’m European so not sure if that would be to the taste of Americans.
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Old 14.07.2019, 16:44
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

You can always send an under cooked (to your preference) steak back for a little more time, but once a steak is over cooked you can’t turn back the clock.

If you are going to a decent steakhouse here, I’m sure you could talk temperatures, even show pictures of what you want, so that there’s no misunderstanding.

Also consider that different cuts are better at different temperatures e.g. a fillet is at its best rare, whereas a ribeye needs to be medium-rare heading to medium to allow the fat to melt into meat.

I wouldn’t worry too much about USDA recommendations either.
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Old 14.07.2019, 17:01
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Why are you using temperatures in F. Frankly it is all Greek to me.

And I recommend you avoid the beef tartare ...
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Old 14.07.2019, 17:32
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Being from the US, I love a good steak as well. Although I am not to much into the temperature science of cooking a steak.

I usually just base it off high searing temperature to start with, maybe 450F and then turn the heat down to about 250F and cook it based off time like 7-12 minutes also accounting for the thickness of the steak and cut of steak as well.

For example some "baseball" Fillet Steaks in the US might take closer to 30-40 minutes depending on temperature on the grill as well. A typical Tenderloin I probably cook for about 10 minutes to be around medium rare / pink in the middle.

I have had the opposite experiences here with getting a steak in Germany or Switzerland, when I ask for rare to medium rare they almost always bring it out closest to medium. I guess it probably all varies by restaurant though.

Best suggestion for Switzerland might be the ol' Hot Stone Steak. I have not seen the technique used in the US, at least not in the Midwest. But here one can find many steakhouses that will bring the steak out still cooking on a Hot Stone and one can let it cook longer if they like.

A bit of a spin on full-service restaurant but I liked it.
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Old 14.07.2019, 17:35
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Whilst you can send an under cooked steak back to give it another go, it usually comes back hard and uneatable....
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Old 14.07.2019, 17:43
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

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...For example some "baseball" Fillet Steaks in the US might take closer to 30-40 minutes depending on temperature on the grill as well...
I suppose it helps to ask to see the steak first so you can suggest how long or what temp to cook? If a place regularly served baseball steaks and you asked for medium it would be a different timing than if they served a thinner steak.

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...Best suggestion for Switzerland might be the ol' Hot Stone Steak. I have not seen the technique used in the US, at least not in the Midwest. But here one can find many steakhouses that will bring the steak out still cooking on a Hot Stone and one can let it cook longer if they like.

A bit of a spin on full-service restaurant but I liked it.
I also rather like the hot stone steak, because then each person can choose how done they want it. But the accompaniments are often not very cheffy - fries and some sauces. And it's still pricey.
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Old 14.07.2019, 18:59
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

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Why are you using temperatures in F. Frankly it is all Greek to me.

And I recommend you avoid the beef tartare ...
Every time I mentioned a temperature in F I also provided the equivalent in C. I don't really see how that changes much, but basically what I was saying is based on the menu here, the differences in steak cooking temperatures (internally) is roughly a 12c difference, which is a LOT when it comes to meat.
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Old 14.07.2019, 19:43
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

The cooking of steak is one of the things the Swiss can cook properly, I routinely send back overdone steak & burgers even after showing a photo of what I expect..

Nothing beats Steak Tartar which is raw.

This is how a burger should be rare not incinerated
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Old 14.07.2019, 21:43
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

If you can order by the temperature than do so as you will get most likely what you want regardless what the Chef/Restaurant calls it.

One problem is that the French "Blue" is not the American "Rare". If you put a fork in beef which is "Blue" you will hear a "moo" sound as it is usually still alive. Nevertheless, some restaurant will start the scale at Blue == Rare.

Here a table from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doneness
Temperatures for beef, veal, lamb steaks and roasts Term (French) Description Temperature range USDA recommended Extra-rare or Blue (bleu) very red 46–49 °C / 115–125 °F Rare (saignant) red center; soft 52–55 °C / 125–130 °F Medium rare (à point) warm red center; firmer 55–60 °C / 130–140 °F Medium (demi-anglais) pink and firm 60–65 °C / 140–150 °F 145 °F and rest for at least 3 minutes Medium well (cuit) small amount of pink in the center 65–69 °C / 150–155 °F Well done (bien cuit) gray-brown throughout; firm 71 °C+ / 160 °F+ 160 °F for ground beef Overcooked (trop cuit) blacken throughout; hard >71 °C / >160 °F
But the above temperature also depends what temperature the meat has when you start cooking it. If it is cold from the fridge you can have a core temperature of bellow 50 °C but still a "medium-rare" steak.
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Old 14.07.2019, 21:49
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Raw is best.

Tom
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Old 14.07.2019, 21:54
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Demi-anglais? I’ve never heard that ...
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Old 14.07.2019, 23:47
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

In continental Europe (At least in France/Germany/Austria/Switzerland) the terms of steak doneness are quite different than in the U.S.

A medium steak here is the equivalent of medium rare or even rare for the US.

To put it down to numbers, medium here is ~54 Celsius. What is suggested medium in the US (60-62 Celsius), is considered medium-well to well done here.

It also depends on the thickness of the steak and the way it is cooked. A thick grilled beef filet at 50 degrees will have a much more rare feeling than a thinner grilled beef Striploin (Entrecote). That is because on a thick steak or on a roast, the outer part (the crust) is relatively much less in comparison to the inner, less cooked part of the meat. On an 1.5 cm thick beef entrecote, we are talking almost 50-50 so any amount of rare meat in the very middle doesn't really have a negative effect to people who are not keen on rare steaks. Both cuts would have a core temperature of 50 degrees but the thick filet will be obviously rare, whether the thinner striploin can be regarded medium-rare to medium.

Whether the steak is cooked with traditional methods or using a water bath (sous-vide) also plays a huge role in the perception of doneness.

Theory aside, if what you want is the equivalent of the US medium, I would suggest you order medium-well.

In any case, do not order well done, or it will sadly turn out to be a dry and overcooked piece of steak. It shouldn't be the case but sadly most cooks don't understand the difference between well done and overdone (or they just assume that someone who orders well done, would not care). Truth is that there is a huge difference between a steak cooked well done at 65-67 degrees and a steak being overdone at 70+. The former is still juicy and tender (definitely not as much as a medium rare steak, but edible nevertheless) and the latter is dry and inedible for most people.
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Old 15.07.2019, 08:45
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

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If you can order by the temperature than do so as you will get most likely what you want regardless what the Chef/Restaurant calls it.

One problem is that the French "Blue" is not the American "Rare". If you put a fork in beef which is "Blue" you will hear a "moo" sound as it is usually still alive. Nevertheless, some restaurant will start the scale at Blue == Rare.

Here a table from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doneness
Temperatures for beef, veal, lamb steaks and roasts Term (French) Description Temperature range USDA recommended Extra-rare or Blue (bleu) very red 46–49 °C / 115–125 °F Rare (saignant) red center; soft 52–55 °C / 125–130 °F Medium rare (à point) warm red center; firmer 55–60 °C / 130–140 °F Medium (demi-anglais) pink and firm 60–65 °C / 140–150 °F 145 °F and rest for at least 3 minutes Medium well (cuit) small amount of pink in the center 65–69 °C / 150–155 °F Well done (bien cuit) gray-brown throughout; firm 71 °C+ / 160 °F+ 160 °F for ground beef Overcooked (trop cuit) blacken throughout; hard >71 °C / >160 °F
But the above temperature also depends what temperature the meat has when you start cooking it. If it is cold from the fridge you can have a core temperature of bellow 50 °C but still a "medium-rare" steak.
I think the definition of blue is incorrect, it's still cold in the middle only flashed on the outside.
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Old 15.07.2019, 09:09
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

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I think the definition of blue is incorrect, it's still cold in the middle only flashed on the outside.
Because it was not handled properly, taken straight out of the fridge.

A THICK piece of filet slowly brought up to 40-45C and then flash seared on the outside is a life changing culinary experience.
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Old 15.07.2019, 09:14
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

I’m American and will definitely agree that the definition of degrees of doneness varies and is not the same in the US vs Europe. Thankfully for me, I’ve always loved my steaks rare. Not that we ever eat out lol.
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Old 15.07.2019, 09:19
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Spend the same money you’d spend on a steak in a restaurant to get a REALLY good steak from the butchers. Then cook it yourself to your liking. Steak is one of the easiest things to cook in the world, boiling an egg is more difficult.
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Old 15.07.2019, 09:30
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

Frying a boiled egg is a right bitch, rarely turns out well is my experience
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Old 15.07.2019, 10:59
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

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Spend the same money you’d spend on a steak in a restaurant to get a REALLY good steak from the butchers. Then cook it yourself to your liking. Steak is one of the easiest things to cook in the world, boiling an egg is more difficult.
You don’t need to spend anything like that much. I bought a 42 day dry aged rib eye for CHF 30 on Saturday. However, not everyone has the confidence in their cooking to work with something so expensive, sometimes it is nice not to have to do the prep and clean up and depending on how many people are being catered for and how they want their steak cooked, it can get exponentially more difficult to make it all work in a home kitchen.
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Old 15.07.2019, 11:36
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Re: Steak "doneness" temperature differences between Swiss & U.S?

I go to La Estancia http://www.la-estancia-waldshut.de/home.html regularly.
Their steaks are served on hot-plates. I usually ask for medium rare done, which is my regular choice. As soon as served, I make sure that I cut the steak and still cook it on the existing heat to my preferences. First time around, I asked for a medium rare done steak and got a rare done steak. I had to send it back to the kitchen. Ever since, I don’t wait until the hot plate cools down and do my own grilling instead.

Analogically, like if you were making your own Raclette with sides.

P.S. In RSA, a braai is just as important as a barbecue/BBQ in the US. However, I try to limit myself to few ounces of red meat to avoid a gout.
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