The poke test

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The Poke Test
When chefs want to test a steak for doneness, they don't stab it with a knife; they poke it with their finger. Meat gets firmer as it cooks, so they're assessing how squishy it is. You can get a feel for this by using your own hand.

  • Rare meat is as yielding as the flesh between your thumb and forefinger
  • Move a half-inch toward your wrist and press again—that's medium rare.
  • Well-done meat feels like the muscle at the base of your thumb when your palm is flat.
This test doesn't work for large cuts like a loin roast or brisket; use a thermometer instead.

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