Part of becoming a great cook is
developing your sensitivity to and intimacy with food. That is to learn
how food changes as it cooks and to recognize the visual and tactile clues
that let you know when it's done. There are so many variables at play when
you're cooking - reliability of the oven thermostat, size and texture of
ingredients, size, material and type of cooking equipment and stovetop
heat that you can't rely on recipes or cooking times to tell you exactly
when the food is done. To cook well, you need to be able to judge how the
food is cooking so that you can adjust temperature and timing as you go
along. Judging doneness by texture and appearance may be difficult at
first, but you can practice by looking and touching foods, guessing at how
they're cooking, and then confirming your guesswork by cutting into the
food or, in some cases, b y checking the food's internal temperature with
an instant-read thermometer.
To tell when a steak is done -
Rare meat feels fleshy to the touch.
As the meat barely approaches being medium-rare, beads of red juices will
start to form on its surface.
Medium-rare meat will barely
bounce back to the touch.
Medium meat will feel distinctly firm
to the touch and pink juices will form on its surface.
Medium-well meat will feel very firm.
Brown and pink juices will form on its surface.
Well-done meat will feel hard to the
touch and any juices released will be brown.