Originally posted by
The one best advice for cooking any sort of meat is to let it rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking and before cutting into it. This time lets the juices in the meat re-distribute so that when you cut into it you aren't letting all of the juices
The one best advice for cooking any sort of meat is to let it rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking and before cutting into it. This time lets the juices in the meat re-distribute so that when you cut into it you aren't letting all of the juices out onto the cutting board, keeps the meat from drying out as much.
I really am not an expert on cooking meat, not going to lie. I tend to rely on a meat thermometer for most things except steak and hamburgers which I give the poke test. I prefer my steak medium rare, but am really not bothered if I've over- or under-cooked it a little.
The way that I've learned to do the poke test that JR was referring to is to hold your hand facing towards you, thumb extended as far to the side as you can. Poke at the muscle along the base of your thumb on your palm. With your thumb extended the muscle has very little give, this is what well-done meat feels like if you give it a poke (and I tend to use my finger to poke the meat as well, makes it easier to tell how much give there is in the meat). More medium done meat will feel like the same muscle when you lay your thumb tight to the side of your palm. If you prefer more rare meat, curl your thumb into the palm of your hand. It's not very scientific, but it does give a good idea about the general done-ness of the meat.
I do a similar thing with feeling the texture to see whether red meat (always venison for me) is done, but I learned it from trial and error. I too tend to use my finger.
Cooking poultry and pork is different, I go low and slow for bone-in poultry and pork but can speed the process up with a higher temperature for boneless. Unlike red meat, you usually want the poultry or pork to separate from the bone, and cooking it at a high temperature will char the outside of the meat before the meat next to the bone gets done. Boneless is easier to control at a higher temperature since the inside will get done just as the outside gets a bit of char on it. Flipping frequently decreases the chance of charring as well, as does not applying sauce to the poultry or pork until it is ready to come off the grill.
Fish is still different. First off, there is a very good chance it will fall apart as you flip it, so you'll want to do so just once. Oiling the fish AND the grill will decrease the chances of it getting stuck. Usually having a very hot grill to start with will make food not stick to it, but it doesn't seem to matter much with fish. I cook my fish over medium to high heat depending on the thickness of the steak or fillet (medium for thick, high for thin). You, of course, want the fish to get done, but you want some slightly crispy spots on the fish as well (or else you wouldn't be doing it on a grill in the first place). I flip my fish when top of the fillet near the edges begins to turn whitish, then take it off when the fish no longer feels "gelatinous" in the middle or thickest spot. This should be in a bit less time than you had the first side down toward the flame.
Smoking meat is always done low and slow, btw. Keeping your smoker around 250 degrees F is best, and getting a thermometer to tell you when it has reached its proper internal temperature is much more important than with grilling.