While there are a lot of great cooking skills and tips we’ve inherited from our parents and grandparents, there are some cooking habits passed on from generation to generation that are less than ideal. For instance, maybe your mom still incorrectly defrosts her sausages on the kitchen counter at room temperature. But there’s another even worse cooking habit you need to ditch right now: cooking by look and feel.
Yes, one of the reasons why grandma’s food was better than yours is that she knew how to cook using intuition. Maybe when the meat felt like the palm of her hand, she knew it was done. But not every nana was a great cook. If you ever wondered why turkey has a reputation for being dry or your family’s chicken turned out a little too pink, it could be because those cooks of yore were judging doneness by look and feel.
Your steak may have those perfect marks from the grill or your chicken skin may be a crisp, golden brown, but the color of a food has almost no reflection on the internal temperature. It can look great on the outside but be totally raw or dry in the center.
So, how can you tell that meat is done cooking? By investing in a meat thermometer, which ranks among the most essential kitchen tools. The only way to truly tell that your meat is finished is to use a meat thermometer and cook it to temperature.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, poultry should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, pork should reach 145 degrees and beef should reach 145 degrees to be food-safe. Knowing those temperatures is just the first step in knowing how to cook chicken, steak and other common foods correctly.
Cooking by color and feel can lead to food poisoning at worst and overcooked, bland food at best. Other things that can lead to improperly cooked proteins include opening your oven constantly to check the status of your food, not using the right kind of skillet and these other bad cooking habits you need to stop now.