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How to Tell if Your Meat Is Cooked: the #1 Trick to Do It Perfectly Without a Thermometer

There is a trick that is as simple as it is effective for understanding the cooking level of meat without having to use a kitchen thermometer. Let's find out together.

By Cookist

Succulent steaks, fragrant burgers or delicious grilled ribs: cooking meat is not a simple culinary "technique" but a real art, with its rules and secrets. Marinations, cutting, seasoning, temperature and, above all, cooking: the moment that can make the meat simply perfect or turn dinner into a complete disaster.

Rare, medium or well done: for every palate and type of meat there is an adequate degree of doneness but discovering it, especially if you are a novice in the kitchen, may not always be easy. When we order a steak at a restaurant and choose the cooking method, we rely on the chef and his undoubted ability to satisfy our desire but when we are the ones who have to test ourselves and get behind the stove, how can we understand if and how much the meat is cooked? How to find out how cooked meat is without using a kitchen thermometer? It may seem strange or at least curious but to do this we don't need anything other than our hands: simply by touching the meat it is possible to understand if it is cooked and ready to be enjoyed. Let's see how to do it.

How to Tell if Meat is Cooked

Using our hands we can find out not only if the meat is cooked but also the different levels of doneness. How? We delicately touch the flesh and use the palm – in particular the small muscle found in the lower part of the thumb – as a yardstick. In particular:

  • Meat still raw: has the same consistency as the lower part of the thumb when the hand is open and the palm is facing up.
  • Meat cooked rare: join the thumb and index finger of your weak hand without applying pressure, touching the lower part of the thumb with the other hand; you will notice that the consistency is harder, the same as meat cooked rare.
  • Medium doneness: put your middle finger and thumb together and always touch the same point; if the meat has that consistency, it means it has reached a medium doneness level.
  • Well done: join the thumb and ring finger, the lower part of the thumb will be more tense and therefore slightly tougher; meat that has this consistency can be considered well done.

Even without a kitchen thermometer, from today, cooking every type of meat to perfection and satisfying your palate will be very simple, seeing is believing.


Cuts, Times, Methods and Cooking Degrees

How to choose the perfect cooking level for each cut of meat? It can often be a simple matter of personal taste but, in other cases, it is possible to identify the most suitable degree of cooking based on the cut of meat chosen.

  • Well done: The best and safest cooking for pork, chicken, turkey and rabbit. To obtain well-cooked meat, 5 minutes per side is sufficient, so as to obtain a cut that is well browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • Medium cooking: ideal for veal and lamb, for medium cooking, also called "to the point", 3 or 4 minutes per side is enough.
  • Rare: only 2 minutes, not a second more for those who only enjoy meat rare, just browned on the outside and just the right amount of juicy inside. Types and cuts of meat suitable for cooking rare: naturally only beef and veal, preferably fillets or steaks at least 3 centimeters thick.
  • Al bleu: yes, there is a cooking stage prior to rare cooking and it is called "bleu". To obtain it, the meat must not cook more than 60 seconds: only for true carnivores. To be tried only and exclusively with beef (as well as rare).
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