There's nothing more American than massive hunks of buttery, juicy, tender-as-hell steak cooked to medium rare perfection.
Turns out that isn't always the case. As the ubiquitous Longhorn Steakhouse chain assessed from a year's worth of steak orders from all its 491 U.S. locations, Americans overwhelming prefer their beef cuts tragically overcooked.
In other terms, 75 percent of Americans prefer their steaks well-done, medium-well or medium. As any self-respecting chef will tell you--like, say, Gordon Ramsay or Anthony Bourdain--the only way to order a steak is medium-rare. Anything else, or what 77 percent of Americans appear to order, is absolute culinary sacrilege.
Compare the two cuts below. One is a succulent medium-rare with just enough char on the outside while the other is effectively a leather belt.
Still, that doesn't stop over 11 percent of Americans from ordering their steaks well-done. See all the dismaying results, below.
Americans appear to know the error of their beef-loving ways. In a separate poll from 2014, FiveThirtyEight asked participants how they order their steaks, and only 8 percent actually admitted to preferring well-done steak, and a scant 17 percent coughed to medium-well.
When held up against the hard data of actual orders from Longhorn Steakhouse (over 11 percent well-done and over 25 percent medium-well), it becomes clear that Americans may be lying out of sheer embarrassment.
Thankfully, certain cuts of steak somewhat lend themselves to being overcooked.
"Steaks that still perform very well even if you go to a medium-well temperature, those would be the highly marbled steaks, the ribeye, even the porterhouse or T-bone," Jens Dahlmann, the executive chef at Longhorn, told FiveThirtyEight.
"There is a bone running through the middle, and around the bone retains more moisture and flavor."
That said, a majority of Americans report ordering certain cuts that should absolutely never be cooked past medium-rare, like sirloins and tenderloins, past medium.
"If you look at the most tender steak, it's the tenderloin. That's a steak that lends itself to barely cooking it.
It's got a very soft fiber and very sweet flavors to it. It works great for rare and medium-rare," Dahlmann said—advice most Americans will continue to ignore.