We all know how to cook steak. Or do we? It can be hard to know when a protein is cooked all the way through without cutting into it. One premature prick of the knife, however, and the meat's juices will start to run, leaving you with a meal that's dry and unappealing. Timing can help, but because each piece of meat and each oven and pan is different, advice on how to cook a steak are often just guidelines. So how can you decide if steak, or other meat for that matter, is cooked or not?
1. Roasting a Chicken
When roasting a chicken, like our roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary, or any other piece of poultry, there's a simple trick you can use to make sure it's cooked all the way through. When you start to feel as though the chicken is done, grab one of its legs and wiggle it up and down. If the chicken is cooked through, it will move freely and easily from the joint, and any juices will run clear. If it still needs more time, it will be harder to move, and the juices will run pink.
2. Pan-Cooking Beef
If wondering how to cook steak, just know the same rules apply. Touch the piece of meat and feel how much give it has. Then compare it to the feeling of your thumb muscle, the round part of your hand that connects your thumb and your wrist.
For rare beef, press the tip of your index finger to your thumb, as though making an "OK" sign. Press the other index finger to the fleshy thumb muscle. This is the texture the meat should have.
For medium-rare beef, press the tip of your middle finger to your thumb and press the other index finger to the fleshy thumb muscle. This is the texture the meat should have.
For medium beef that's still a bit pink inside, press the tip of your ring finger to your thumb and feel the same part of your hand. This is the texture that the meat should have.
For well-done beef, press your pinky finger to your thumb. The firmness of the thumb muscle is the texture that the meat should have.
No matter which technique you use, always be sure to rest meat for 5-15 minutes, depending on its size, before serving. You can tent the meat to make sure that it stays warm. As the meat will continue to carry-over cook once you remove it from the cooking vessel, be sure it's still slightly under-done when removing it. You'll have perfectly cooked meat every time!
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