Burnt outside, Raw inside

I made Halibut yesterday and it was sooo gross.  It was weird, the outside started cooking way to fast (and) almost burned but the inside was still raw. Uhggggg… Any tips?

Jerica, UT

The First Timers Guide to Evenly Cooking Meat

Man, if I had a dime for everytime I got this question . . .

One of the secrets that restaurants use on a very regular basis is “marking” items like steaks on a broiler or grill and then finishing them in the oven.  By cooking the food initially on the hot surface, you get those nice sear or grill marks.  The hard part about using this cooking medium is that your food tends to get done too fast on the outside and the middle doesn’t get cooked enough.  Thus, resulting in Jerica’s dilemma (and the title of this post), burnt on the outside, raw on the inside. 

This is why restaurants only “mark” the food on the broiler or grill and then finish it in the oven.  This allows for even cooking of the item(s) so that the inside gets to the desired doneness without the outside buring.

Have you ever been to a big banquet or dinner and wondered how they cooked each one of those steaks or chicken or fish so perfectly?  This is how, they mark them ahead of time and finish them in the oven right before service . . . Ta da!  If it works for the pros then why doesn’t everyone else do it?

About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.


  1. Dave Lee on 03/29/2009 at 7:03 PM

    I never thought about this myself, but it certainly makes sense. I can also suggest that if you are trying to grill and prefer not to use the oven (for example, at a bbq with a lot of guests around, you don’t want to answer the same question 500 times, and truth is some of them won’t understand) you can establish a hot part of the by lowering the flames around the other parts (or, if the grill is not that sophisticated, figure out where the hot part is). Once that’s done, you use this as the starting point. Sear the steaks (or chicken, shrimp, burgers, shish-kabobs, etc…) in the hottest part of the grill for about 10 seconds (give or take, depending on how hot the hottest part is), then move the meat/item to another part of the grill, preferably where it is less hot.
    The best is if you have 3 elements on your grill. You can turn the left side (or right, your choice) all the way up, the middle you can turn down to medium and the remaining section you can either turn on low, or not at all. That way you can move the meat around as needed.
    Another good thing is if you have a second level on your grill. This would allow the meat to sit at a higher level off the fire. If you only have two elements, this is ideal to achieving the advantages already mentioned.

  2. shawn on 03/30/2009 at 3:28 PM

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. Alisa@Foodista on 04/08/2009 at 7:54 AM

    Great suggestions! Love your blog Shawn!

  4. Ashley (Georgia Beef Board) on 10/01/2009 at 1:11 PM

    Those are great cooking suggestions!

    One other thing that can be very useful in determining the doneness of your steak, whether on the grill or in the oven, is a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer horizontally into the thickest part of the meat and leave for 5-10 seconds.

    Cooking temperatures for beef:

    Medium-rare – 145 degrees
    Medium – 160 degrees
    Medium-well – 165 degrees
    Well-done – 170 degrees

    Ground Beef – 160 degrees
    Reheat Temperature – 165 degrees

  5. Pamela Calhoun on 10/05/2009 at 7:51 PM

    Hello, I am returning your tweet. Yeah I like to cook too.

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