This week my focus was on trying different “doneness” tests for meats. This is one of my biggest challenges while cooking. I am always afraid to undercook something so i usually end up overcooking it, then it doesn’t taste very good. I decided that this would be a good first step in my journey of learning how to cook.
This week I made three dishes, each with a different kind of meat. I used online recipes and articles to find the information that I needed to figure out how to cook these meats properly.
The first dish I made is lasagna using ground beef.
To make this dish I followed my mother’s recipe and my goal was to brown the beef without burning it. I followed the instructions from this article to help me out. This source offered some pictures that showed me how the beef should look when it is done as well as some tips on what to do while cooking it. I found this article very useful. Ground beef is actually one of the easier things to cook as long as you keep an eye on it. I used the colour of the meat as my “doneness” test in this case.
The next dish is oven baked chicken with lemon seasoning.
To make this dish, I followed a recipe for oven baked chicken breasts. This recipe is so easy to follow and it explains in detail every single step. One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this recipe is the how long to bake chicken breast section. This section gave me the exact temperature the chicken should be at while using a meat thermometer as well as what the chicken should look like inside when cooked. I also appreciate the tip of beating the chicken first so that it is mostly all the same thickness in order to cook evenly. My first “doneness” test was to cut a slit into the thickest part of the chicken to check the colour. It should be a light white with absolutely no pink inside. I then turned to the thermometer for my second check. I had no luck with the cheap thermometer that I had purchased as it did not work in the chicken. I did some research and found that it would be best to use a digital thermometer instead.
The third dish I made is barbecued steak.
For this dish, I followed instructions for perfectly grilled steak. These instructions offered a recipe but I decided to go with a mix of seasonings I know my family likes since they are who I was cooking for. The instructions for cooking were very clear. My steaks turned out to be perfectly cooked by following the instructions. For the “doneness” check, I cut a steak to check the colour, I was going for medium so a light pink. I then tried the thermometer again and it worked better with the steak than it did with the chicken. It took a really long time though, so once again a digital one would be better. I got my steak to 160° F which is medium according to the thermometer.
Overall my first week of cooking was pretty successful. Checking for “doneness” is a skill that I will have to continue to work on as I make more dishes for my project.