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KatawaGrey's avatar

How does one properly cook meat?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) September 26th, 2010

I am a vegetarian and have been since before I was cooking for myself so I have no idea how to cook any kind of meat. It’s easy to cook vegetables as no one gets sick if they are undercooked and no ones gags if they’re overcooked.

Why would a vegetarian want to know how to cook meat? Well, I’m planning on having children one day and I figure I should learn how to cook meat for those inevitable times that they will want bacon or chicken nuggets. I figure for the most part my SO can make them the meat stuff but I’m sure there will be times when he’s not home and I have to go to the distance.

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15 Answers

MissAusten's avatar

It just takes practice and a meat thermometer. Practice to know methods for cooking different meats and cuts of meat without drying them out, and the meat thermometer to make sure you don’t kill people or overcook the meat.

There’s no simple answer, because cooking chicken properly is different from cooking a steak properly. Even the way to cook the steak depends on the cut of meat.

I use because the reviews for the recipes often contain tips and advice to help you get it right the first time. You can also browse the book store for a cookbook that contains not only recipes, but descriptions of the different cuts of meat and how to best cook them.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

First you should boil it, then fry it, thats what I do.

augustlan's avatar

The FDA has a page with a lot of good information on safely preparing meats. I would use that information along with simple recipes and practice.

gondwanalon's avatar

Cook the meat until is is well done (cooked all the way through). This will kill all the bacteria and parasites in the meat and fish flesh. I always eat my parasites well done.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It takes a bit of practice, but you’re smart and observant, so I don’t think it’d take you long to figure out. Each meat smells and feels different when it’s cooked properly, though, as I said, it takes some practice to learn what that point is.

Every method of cooking will be different, as well. A George Foreman grill takes like 7 minutes for a chicken breast, while you could braise chicken for hours. The main, important point, is that the center of the meat reaches a ‘safe’ temperature. Meat/cooking thermometers aren’t very expensive and can help you get a handle on how much/how long to cook.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

I’m very glad to see that your not going to force your kids to be vegetarian.
I would ask your husband to teach you.
Just always remember poultry like chicken and turkey can’t be pink at all.
Steaks can have pink in the middle but I wouldn’t suggest it.

MissAusten's avatar

Steaks should be pink the middle, or there’s no point to buying a good steak. :) Pork is also perfectly safe to eat if it is a little pink in the middle. The threat of parasites in pork is practically non-existent today. If it’s gray all the way through, it is overcooked. There are even some kinds of fish that are best cooked medium, like tuna, if you like that kind of thing. I don’t, so I never cook it! Other fish do need to be cooked until flaky.

But yes, poultry should always be “well done.” With white meat, it can be harder to cook it without drying it out. It’s also more expensive. Drumsticks and thighs are more flavorful and cheaper (but have more fat).

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Use a pan like this and fill it with some water and put a piece of tin foil over it.
Nice and juicy.
And you don’t need a whole big roasting pan.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Well, you could also ask your mom for help, I understand she’s a pretty fine cook and could teach you a thing or two. ;-)

YARNLADY's avatar

A meat thermometer is a necessity. You cannot tell by looking at meat whether it is done or not. It must be monitored frequently to get it just right. Always follow the directions regarding the correct internal temperature.

Kardamom's avatar

I listen to a great cooking program on KNX 1070 am radio station, that broadcasts out of Los Angeles, but can also be heard on the internet. It’s on every morning on Saturdays and Sundays. The show is called Food Talk and the host is named Melinda Lee and she has lots of great information. There are tons of recipes on the website and you can call her on the phone on weekends and ask her direct questions. She is very informative and easy to understand. One part of her website ( gives proper temperatures to cook all kinds of meat. You need to use an instant read thermometer. You push the shaft down into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. Here is a link to the site with the various temperatures :

zenvelo's avatar

Joy of Cooking will tell you all about cooking different cuts of meat, how long and what method.

and I admire your open-mindedness to not impose your beliefs on your kids-to-be, but please promise to never ever feed them or allow them to eat a chicken nugget. Those things are chicken in name only, a hardened chemical gloop.

YARNLADY's avatar

@zenvelo make that a commercial chicken nugget. Homemade chicken nuggets made with real chicken are delicious.

incendiary_dan's avatar

In big part it depends on how the meat has been preserved. Some people “age” meat, some freeze, some use fresh, etc. The stuff at the store probably isn’t actually fresh, so I always cook that until well done. If you can get free range meat from reputable sellers, red meat can be eaten basically bloody and barely cooked, though I don’t particularly like it with more than a bit of pink inside.

jmm's avatar

As you see from the answers, there is no one correct way to cook meat. And if you include poultry and fish the choices grow even larger.

To cook anything well takes practice. Get a good basic cookbook (I always refer to The Joy of Cooking). Follow the instructions carefully. Measure things like oven temperatures with a thermometer, not just using the oven setting.

Whatever you do, don’t cook something complex for the first time when you want to impress someone. The “impression” you make is not likely to be the one you hoped for. Don’t ask how I know that.

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