August 28th, 2009

Face-Testing Your Steak

We’ve talked about ways to test the doneness of your steak here before. Most of the time, that involves the old “eyeing it” method . . . or a meat thermometer.

Below, Lynn Kessel of the South Shore News & Tribune describes an unusual method — the face-testing method. Oh, and by the way, Lynn, tough life gal. You get to talk about steak and test out recipes BEACHSIDE IN FLORIDA!

Here’s what she says . . .

Some experienced cooks punch the meat with their fingers to check the temperature and know when it’s ready.

Here’s how you learn the various levels of doneness:

With a poker face — no smiling or you’ll be eating beef jerky — touch your cheek. That’s how rare meat feels. Offering no resistance when pressed, it has a red center but should be warm all the way through.

Touch your chin. This is the feel of medium rare. The color should be bright pink to red when cut.
Now, touch the end of your nose. This will coincide with the texture of medium doneness. It has a pink center.

The area just above the bridge of your nose on your forehead is the tactile equivalent of medium-well. It has a thin line of pink remaining in the center. The bottom of your shoe is well done.
I spoke with Winn-Dixie Executive Chef Robert Tulko. He prefers gauging doneness using touch also, but with his fist.

First, make a relaxed fist, he said. The web of your hand between the thumb and forefinger on top feels like rare meat. If you slightly clench your fist, that same v-section of your hand is now medium. Clench your fist tightly, and the area will now feel like well done — hard, and in my opinion, inedible.
Tulko explained that as meats cook, the juices are drawn to the upper surface. That’s why when you cut into a steak, the juices rush out.

He said you should let the steak rest for five to 10 minutes before serving and cutting. The juices will have time to settle back to the center.

Tulko has been testing the doneness of meats, pork and chicken this way for years, and he prefers the clenched-fist method to the face testing.

Surprisingly, this method really works. I tried it the other evening when I was grilling a top sirloin for one of my favorite salad recipes.

Personally, I like my steak between the nose and chin. Get it?

Excerpt courtesy of

2 Responses to “Face-Testing Your Steak”

  1. Brian Robertson Says:

    This is exactly how I have been testing steaks – not a fan of poking it with a meat thermometer as it allows the juices to escape. Good article.

  2. Brian Robertson Says:

    Great blog piece. I am definitely a more “chin” steak person.