For some, a steak needs to be charred nearly black before it seems edible. Others want meat that is medium well or medium rare, cooked one side or the other of just enough. A very good cut of meat served rare, although some fear it as a possible source of parasites or bacteria, brings rich flavor and an almost barbarically juicy appeal to the table that no other type of meat can offer. Rare beef has been cooked to an internal temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (48.88 to 51.66 Celsius).
Fans of rare meat point to the buttery, soft texture that has only been gently kissed by heat as one of the selling points. Steak or burgers that have been cooked just until the outer surface has turned brown reveal a bright red heart when cut open, and this is what lovers of rare meat are looking for. Grilling a T-bone for more than a couple of minutes on each side, for the rare meat lover, just won’t do.
Ordering rare meat at a restaurant or a cookout might not be as simple as it sounds. While most cooks know the definition of rare, the guy manning the grill might not have a thermometer to announce the exact moment the meat should be pulled from the source of heat. The grill master might pull the meat before much heat has spread internally or might let it sit just a minute too long.
To some, there is little difference between rare and raw meat. These folks treat heat as though its purpose is simply to warm the outer surface of the meat. Technically, this is called blue rare, and when that first bite is cut from the steak, the inside will be as red as blood.
True rare meat does have a cooked surface. Some home cooks and backyard grillers sear the meat briefly to seal in the juices. A cross-section of meat cooked rare shows a cooked surface, an inner ring of dark-pink meat, and a core that is blood red.
These days, most diners order meat cooked medium rare, medium well, or just plain medium. In many cases, this is because of the fear of meat-borne illness caused by parasites or bacteria. The closer to well done a cut of beef is cooked, the more evenly gray the interior will be. It’s important to note that, the longer heat cooks the meat, the drier it will become, the stringier the meat will be and the harder to chew.