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The Hand Method for Cooking Steak

Do you consider yourself skilled in cooking steak? Or are your steak moments filled with fear, ever worried your nice cut of beef might end up overdone, or undercooked?

I’ll admit for the longest time, I’d be full of worry as I’d broil something so simple as a steak. I’m not a deep fan of beef that’s cooked rare or even medium, but I also did not want to turn a good steak into rubber by overcooking it.

For those not skilled in steak it can be difficult to determine doneness. Your eyes will only see the beef in the brown color heat brings it to, but many will try guessing or cutting into the steak, which also might ruin the potential tenderness and juiciness that one enjoys with a good cut.

The Hand Method

I have to hand it to the experts, as they’ve long used a method for cooking a steak perfectly. It’s been known as the Hand Method, or the Finger Test. I first heard of it through BBQ expert Steven Raichlen on one of his TV shows, but I honestly have no clue who actually invented it.

The Hand Method simply works by placing your thumb on one of your four remaining fingers, and then pressing a finger from your other hand into the thick muscle of your palm just below your thumb (abductor pollicis brevis muscle). The softness or firmness of the muscle will determine the level of doneness of your steak. You simply pick your level and see how firm or soft your muscle is, then cook your steak to that same level of firmness or softness.

I put together an easy guide that will illustrate. The green arrow on "Rare" is the location of your abductor pollicis brevis muscle:

The Hand Method for Cooking Steak

But what’s the right level of doneness?

This will forever be a subject of debate, as much as ketchup on a hot dog. I’ve been told to death how medium or medium rare is the “right” way to cook a steak, with anything more decreed as “ruined”.

I don’t agree. Like it or not, I’m not into raw meat beyond fish in sushi, so I’ll go medium well or even well done. One can criticize, but remember taste is a matter of your palette, nothing more. If you find you like your beef cooked thoroughly, and you enjoy it, then don’t worry about what anyone says is “right”.

Tags: steak, cooking, hand method, finger test

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