How to Tell If Your Meat Is Cooked Without Using a Thermometer
If you don't have a meat thermometer, follow Angie Mar's lead and use this surprising tool that you probably already have in your kitchen to tell if your meat is done. (But also, buy a meat thermometer.)
Whether you spend the summer grilling steak outside or searing chops in your favorite cast iron skillet in the comfort of your air-conditioned kitchen, you'll inevitably need to decipher when your meat is properly cooked at some point.
Here, a meat thermometer is a crucial tool, and we suggest that everyone have one on hand. If you don't have one, however, or if it's not within reach when you need it, the touch test also works: Touch the cut of meat with your finger and then feel the fleshy part of your hand underneath your thumb. The meat is raw if it feels like the fleshy part. Now hold your thumb and index finger together: The meat is rare if it feels like that. Now touch your thumb to your middle finger: The meat is medium rare if it feels like that. Next, connect your ring finger and your thumb: If the meat feels like the fleshy part of your palm now, it's medium. Finally, join your pinky and thumb: The meat is well done if it feels like that. It's a method a lot of chefs and home cooks use.
But Angie Mar, owner and executive chef of NYC's Beatrice Inn and a Food & Wine Best New Chef from 2017 who is known for her steaks and prime rib, uses a different method to determine if her meat is cooked.
When the Mar stopped by the Test Kitchen a few weeks ago, she showed Culinary Director Justin Chapple to use a cake tester.
Go in at an angle in the middle of the cut, wait for a second, and then touch the tester to your wrist. If it's cold, the meat is raw. If it's warm—close to your body temperature—then the meat is medium rare. If it’s hot, it's well done.
Chapple typically uses a cake tester to determine if fish is fully cooked (another pro tip if you're grilling seafood this summer!), but using it for meat is another great idea.
Mar uses this tip for her signature Rib-Eyes, but also when she's cooking other cuts, like hanger steak, which she says is her other favorite alternative to a Rib Eye because it's more affordable and has that same beefy flavor.