However (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), we’re all for simplifying cooking steps. And sometimes — sometimes! — it’s OK to leave the meat thermometer in the drawer.
Hear us out. Certain cuts of meat just don’t need a meat thermometer to tell you when they’re done. Take skirt steak, for example. This thin cut cooks quickly, so a meat thermometer is an added step you don’t likely need. Simply sear each side for between 2-3 minutes, let rest for about 10 minutes and you’ll probably end up with the perfectly-browned outside, but still slightly pink center you were aiming for.
The same goes for burgers. With how small and fragile burgers can be, sticking a thermometer in the center can cause your meat to crumble and those delicious juices to leak out. Instead, simply keep an eye on the clock and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.
If either of those tactics sound intimidating, rest assured that it all comes down to practice. The more meat you cook, the easier it will be able to tell by timing and feel when you’ve reached your perfect level of doneness. After all, the secret to perfectly cooked meat, comes down to a few key variables:
- Temperature of cooking surface
- Thickness of meat
- Length of cooking
If you can figure out a way to control for those first two variables — for instance, cooking a similar cut of meat at the same temperature — you can find your perfect length of cooking and always be prepared to go without a meat thermometer. That way, you’ll never have to deal with the heartbreak of your digital thermometer running out of batteries just when you fire up the grill or the frustration of hunting through your kitchen junk drawer right about the time you expect your steaks are done.
It’s true — there’s a level of freedom in learning to cook without a meat thermometer. But…for the sake of disagreeing with ourselves, we’ll also say there’s no reason to mess with a good thing. Bottom line: you do you. Whatever steps you need to get you from “cook the meat” to “eat the meat” and be happy with the final result, we support it!