Everyone loves a good steak. But unfortunately, not everyone knows how to cook a steak properly. It can be daunting to cook a steak because if you don’t get the temperature right, you’ve ruined the meat. This guide tells you how to use a meat thermometer on steak so you can cook it like a pro!
Guide to Steak Doneness
Before you learn how to check the steak for its temperature, you must first know the ideal temperature based on your preferred doneness.
Here is a summary of the internal temperature chart that you should refer to if you want your steak done correctly:
- Rare – 120 F (50 C)
- Medium Rare – 130 F (54 C)
- Medium – 140 F (60 C)
- Medium Well – 140 F (60-65 C)
- Well Done – 160 F (70 C)
The above temperature list is for the final temperature of the steak. Therefore, you must learn the importance of resting and carryover cooking, later on, to ensure that you don’t overcook the meat.
Why the Method of Cooking Steak Matters
There are several elements of the thermodynamics involved when you are cooking steak. Understanding how these different elements come together to help you cook the perfect steak is essential. In addition, it gives you an idea of how fast or slow the meat cooks, depending on the transfer of heat energy.
The burning charcoal is the primary source of heat when cooking your steak on a grill. The concept of radiation applies here because the charcoal generates radiant heat of up to 650 F (343 C) on the grill surface.
The cooking process also uses conduction due to the use of a metal grill grate. The metal can conduct the heat from the burning charcoal and cooks the meat when you put it on top of the grill.
Finally, the air that circulates around the steak while it is cooking on the grill also facilitates convection. Convection cooks the meat faster by distributing the heat, especially when cooking on a covered grill. It lets the meat heat up and cooks faster by locking the heated air inside the grill.
These different heating processes make it challenging to perfectly time when the steak is cooked. Therefore, you have to use a thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature for accuracy. Otherwise, you could be a few degrees off if you base it solely on the appearance of the meat.
What You Must Know About Resting and Carryover Cooking
The concept of resting and carryover cooking is another important consideration when cooking steaks. There is a debate on whether or not resting is necessary for steaks. The accepted idea is that you have to rest the steak after cooking as it allows the meat to re-absorb the juices that make it tender and succulent.
Aside from ensuring that the juices are locked in, the meat will continue to cook even if you take it off the grill. This is because the thermal energy continues to work within the steak. As the meat retains the heat, it will continue to cook in the center, even when the outside of the steak might cool slightly. The carryover cooking explains why you should take the steak out of the grill even before it reaches the recommended temperature for your desired doneness.
Two factors impact carryover cooking: 1) the size of the meat and 2) the cooking environment. The smaller the steak cut is, the less carryover cooking. And the hotter the cooking environment, the more carryover. Consider these two factors before you take the steak out, as they can determine how much cooking time you need to get the ideal doneness.
The Thermometer You Use Matters, Too
There is a proper technique for cooking steak. It can be intimidating to someone who isn’t used to cooking steaks because the process seems complex. However, having a temperature to refer to when cooking steaks is essential to verify the temperature of the steak .
A digital thermometer is an ideal choice for checking the temperature of the steak. They can read the temperature fast, which is vital if you cook on a grill since you don’t have to hold the thermometer for too long over the hot grill surface. The temperature is shown on a digital display, which also ensures an accurate reading.
The sensor is placed on the tip of the probe. It’s the best tool to help you reach the meat’s thermal center, so you know when the steak is ready to be pulled out of the grill.
How to Use a Meat Thermometer on Steak
Knowing how to use a meat thermometer on steak is essential to learn if you want to perfect this type of cooking. Checking the temperature is the secret to getting the correct doneness on your steak.
First, insert the probe tip into the steak avoiding bones (if any). Then, carefully insert the probe to a depth that will hit the steak’s thermal center. Let the probe sit there for a few seconds and wait for the temperature reading to appear on display.
Once you’ve reached the recommended internal temperature for the steak, take it off the grill or pan. That is the primary method of checking the temperature of a steak.
However, steaks are unique because they tend to be wider than thick. If this is the case, you must also check the steaks for temperature from the sides.
To do this, grab a piece of steak and then insert the probe from the side. When checking for temperature using this method, you should aim to hit the thermal center with the probe. Once you reach the center, let the probe stay there for a few seconds until the display shows the temperature reading.
It’s that easy! Now, you can be confident that you have the perfect steak for everyone to enjoy!