Grilling With the Poke Test

Cooking on a grill is both science and an art. Consider the question, how do I tell if my steak is done the way I want it? This may be one of the most frequently asked questions in the world of grilling. If you ask a trained chef or a master griller, they will tell you that they use the “poke test” to judge when the meat done to the desired serving temperature. Obviously, this test is not the only way to determine doneness, it just happens to be the handiest way (pun intended) to do so. As long as you still have your fingers and your face, you can learn and use the poke test!

The truth is, that way and I mean way too many people who cook steaks on their grills, will mangle a fine piece of meat trying to determine whether it is done. Admit it, there was a time, and it could be now, that you checked for doneness by using a knife to cut into to the heart of a cooking steak to see if it was done. You peeked into the cut to see if the meat was the “right color” to match the requested doneness. If it wasn’t, the meat stayed on the grill grate, with the wonderful meat juices leaking out of the cut and sizzling on the Flavorizer bars of your Web Genesis gas grill. Oh, the horror!

The best way to learn the poke test is to practice. First, get a digital meat thermometer and learn the appropriate temperature that corresponds to when you should remove the meat from the grill, to assure the desired doneness. Please note that we are making a distinction between the temperatures at which the meat is removed from the grill and the temperature after the steak has “rested” before it is plated to serve.

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