My wife and I typically eat our steaks on the rarer side of medium rare. However, since she is pregnant she's not supposed to eat steak cooked to a temperature under 160 degrees. Is there a way to cook a steak well done while keeping it tender and juicy?

UPDATE: For anyone curious, we ended up going with a combination of sous vide skirt steak (in a homemade Styrofoam cooler), and home-ground burgers with extra fat added to the mix in the form of trimmings from the butcher, and strips of bacon. It definitely did the trick, but I'm glad we're back to medium-rare again. We ate a whole bunch of Omaha steaks that I had been saving after our daughter was born. The baby won't have an opinion on her red meat preferences for some time.

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    I have a whole new respect for the suffering women go through to give birth. Maybe dish up big, thick burgers until the child is born, then have a medium rare steak to celebrate, afterwards. – PoloHoleSet May 3 '17 at 21:21
  • @PoloHoleSet You cook your burgers well done? – Catija May 3 '17 at 22:02
  • The list of banned food is indeed long. Funny you mention burgers, that's exactly what we've been doing so far. I've managed to make a well done burger taste good by adding more fat trimmings and a couple strips of thick bacon to the grind. – cad May 4 '17 at 2:57
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    @Catija - I don't, generally, but you can cook a burger much closer to well without completely killing all the flavor, especially if it's covered with cheese and an assortment of toppings or condiments (I don't do ketchup, mustard or relish, either, actually). It doesn't seem as much a crime against the gods as cooking a steak to well-done. Just make sure the fat content of the ground beef is a little bit on the high side? – PoloHoleSet May 4 '17 at 15:23
  • Are pregnant women really not supposed to eat medium rare steaks? I don't recall that in the recommendations. Sous-vide is a great idea. Also remember that safety in food when cooking is a relationship between time and temperature. So bacteria in a medium steak dies after about 12 minutes at that temperature: cookingissues.com/primers/sous-vide/purdy-pictures-the-charts – Behacad Jul 20 at 16:34
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This will come across as sacrilege to some: One way would be to brine the meat in the fridge for half to one day before cooking. You probably need to experiment a bit with brine concentration, say somewhere between 0.25% and 1% weight of salt to weight of water water. Weigh the meat, use the same weight of water, add the salt. Wash and dry the meat afterwards before cooking.

Salt intake might be something to watch out for though.

Alternatively, sous vide the steak at your desired temperature. If you need to be careful about food safety, sear the meat on all sides for 30 seconds before bagging it for sous vide.

  • I'd argue that if you cooked it medium rare like she normally eats it in a sous vide for 2 hours that it would be fine. Get a sous vide, it will change your life! – haakon.io May 3 '17 at 18:15
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    Toxoplasma Gondii comes to mind to begin with. Other non-parasite pathogens such as fungal spores like botulinum can survive at boiling point of water. – user110084 May 3 '17 at 18:44
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    It maybe sacrilege, but it's either find a way to make well-done steak taste good, or no steak until the baby comes. Brining is a great idea. Do you think there's any reason a wet brine would be preferable to a dry brine in this case? And a sous vide is definitely on my "someday list". – cad May 3 '17 at 19:02
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    You usually sear after sous vide - are you saying that's not enough? – Cascabel May 3 '17 at 20:27
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    @Jefromi searing before and after provides the best result for crust formation. Searing before is sometimes helpful on long, low temperature cooks, to kill off any surface bacteria that might be present, which might multiply and fill the bag with gas during a cook. I usually do this with oxtail or short ribs, for example. – moscafj May 3 '17 at 21:36

sous vide is an excellent technique to use, for your situation. You can cook any number of foods to your desired doneness while also pasteurizing the product. So, you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. With sous vide there is no problem with a rare steak, because you can pasteurize. Remember, pasteurization is not simply a result of temperature...but, temperature + time. For example, with sous vide, you can cook a raw egg at 57C (134.6 F) for two hours...it will appear raw and behave as raw, but will be pasteurized and safe to eat. Why give up steak the way you like it?

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    You might point out that 160F is the recommended temperature because it is near instant death for pretty much everything. It is the safe recommendation for people who don't know how to cook. At 130F it takes a while to kill everything but it will be just as dead. – Sobachatina May 3 '17 at 20:41

Sear the steak in an oven-proof pan, then move the pan to a low temperature (120C) oven to finish. A food thermometer will let you know when to take it out.

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    I'm surprised no one voted up, but for those without sous vide equipment, or the finances to buy one, this is the way to go. (Sear all sides, then finish at low heat (low oven or cool side of a grill)) – Joe Jul 20 at 15:41

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