Is It Done Yet?

Cooking meat perfectly every time is easy with a meat thermometer. To get an accurate reading from your instant-read thermometer, always push it into the thickest part of the meat for 15 to 20 seconds near the end of suggested cooking time. Continue cooking, if necessary. For reasons of personal preference, you may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures. Here are a few more tips:

• Color is not an indicator of doneness. The only way to be sure raw meats are cooked to a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer.

• For steaks 1/2-inch thick or thicker, insert thermometer horizontally from the side, so that it penetrates the thickest part or the center of the steak, not touching bone or fat.

• For roasts, insert an oven-proof meat thermometer prior to roasting and leave in throughout the cooking process.

• For ground meat dishes, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center or thickest part of a meatloaf or meatball; or horizontally from the side into the center for patties.