Cooking meat is all about “the feel” with your fingers. It’s an important skill rather than probing the meat with a fork, which allows precious juices to escape. I would like the two-pronged fork banned from the barbecue or the kitchen! A meat thermometer is an accurate way to determine doneness of meat but also there is the touch test to judge when meat is done which follows:
1. Loosely open your hand and lightly place your thumb on the tip of your first finger. Now take the index finger of the opposite hand and feel the fleshy bulge at the base of your thumb. That’s how raw meat feels — flabby.
2. Move your thumb to the tip of the second finger. That’s the way meat cooked rare feels a little firmer to the touch.
3. Next, move your thumb to the tip of the third finger – it’s firm but gives when touched. That’s medium-rare to medium.
4. Now, move your thumb to the tip of the little finger– that’s well-done, when there is no give.
Simple, isn’t it? And when you put this testing method into action, don’t worry. Your fingertips are tough and won’t burn unless you linger.
When heat is applied to meat, the juices are pushed into the meat, thus cooking it. That’s one of the reasons meat should always rest before being cut or carved: so the heated juices can return to the outside, making the meat juicy throughout.
The process of roasting can be defined as food cooked, uncovered, with dry hot air. To roast prime cuts, place the meat fat side up in a roasting pan. Rub freshly ground black pepper over the roast if desired. If you wish to salt the meat, do it just before cooking because salting earlier draws out the moisture and makes the meat less juicy. Roast, uncovered, in an oven preheated to 375°F (190°C). Some like to roast at 325°F (160°C) to reduce shrinkage but I find the higher temperature gives the best flavor. Below, is a chart to help you determine how long to roast. Test for doneness as above or refer to the chart below for internal temperature when using a meat thermometer.
Rare: 18 minutes per lb (500g) or internal temperature 140°F (60°C)
Medium-rare: 20 minutes per lb (500g) or internal temperature 150° (65°C)
Medium: 22 minutes per lb (500g) or internal temperature 155 to 160°F (68° to 70°C)
Well-done: 26 – 28 minutes per lb (500g) or internal temperature 160° – 170°F (73° – 75°C)
Less tender are cheaper roasts caused by well-used muscle. This includes the front quarter or “chuck” with the cross rib, boneless blade, shoulder, brisket and short rib. These cuts have good flavor but few uniform slices because of the bones. Other less tender cuts include the hip cuts such as boneless roasts, called inside and outside round, eye of round, sirloin tip or rump roasts and some steaks.
“Pot roasting” is perfect for these less tender cuts but they can also be dry roasted. The Canada’s Beef Information Centre (CBIC) suggests, by seasoning and placing these cuts, fat side up, on a rack in the roasting pan with 1/2-inch (1 cm) water. Sear and brown the meat all over in a hot oven and reduce the heat to lower than moderate and roast for 1¼ to 1¾ hours. If you’re using a meat thermometer, insert it to roast the meat until the internal temperature reaches medium.
Grilled or pan-fried Steaks with caramelized onions
Makes 6 servings
To have a juicy, tender steak with grill lines, fry in a hot grill pan or over a hot grill or barbecue. The natural sugars in caramelized onions add great flavour to steak
- 4 tbsp (50 ml) olive or sun or safflower oil
- 4 large onions, peeled, finely sliced
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 6, 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick rib eye, strip loin or sirloin steaks
Preheat the skillet or grill pan on medium-high heat. Cut any excess fat from the steaks; lightly brush them with the remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the steaks, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes or until droplets of juice begin to appear on top of the steaks. Turn the steaks over and cook for another 5 minutes for medium-rare (use the finger test). Let them rest for 5 minutes before settle the juices. Serve the steaks over caramelized onions.
Makes: 2 cups (500 mL)
To carmelize onions, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp (30 ml) oil and stir in the onions; leave to sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook the onions for 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and raise the heat to high, stirring constantly for 5 minutes to allow the onions to brown and caramelize. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve the onions and keep them warm.