For some, meat is mysterious. If you don’t have a lot of practice cooking it, it can be hard to get a feel for exactly how long you should roast, sear, sous vide, or otherwise heat the stuff to render it safe and delicious.
Getting a digital thermometer helps, but this tool from MIT can also give you a little guidance.
The tool, which is called “Cook My Meat,” is rather aggressively named, but very fun to play around with. First, you plug in your variables, such as thickness, starting temperature of the meat, and pan temperature. (You would need an infrared thermometer to measure that accurately, but this guide can help you estimate.)
You then pick one of the ready-made programs, or set the parameters yourself. For example, if you planned to cook your steak for four minutes on each side, you would enter 150C for side one and whatever the temperature of your kitchen is for side two, since one side would be in contact with a hot pan and the other would be exposed to the air.
Once you have your information all plugged in, press “Cook” and watch a fun little graph appear. You get to see how heat diffusion affects the meat over time, including when protein denaturation and browning reactions occur. You can also switch the graph over to “Temperature” if you’d like to see that info as well.
The tool, of course, has some limits. There are only three meats to choose from — steak, tuna, and turkey — and none of them are chicken, which seems odd, and it doesn’t account for the variables you would encounter depending on pan material, but it does give you interesting insight into what happens to meat at various stages of the cooking process, and more knowledge almost always leads to better food. (Plus, it’s just fun to mess with, especially if you love a good graph.)