I’ve noticed on your blog you talk a lot about cooking on the grill. How can one tell how rare/well-done a piece of beef is without cutting it open? —Ray Neades, Boston

The first thing to consider is the cooking surface. Are you using charcoal or gas? Uncovered, covered, or vented? I prefer to use pre-soaked charcoal in my 22.5-inch Weber One-Touch Gold grill. Preheat in a charcoal chimney until all coals have some visible light ash. Turn the coals into the pit, and preheat the rack for a few minutes. You should have an even heat source across the entire grill surface. By lightly charring the exterior of the meat, you help to seal in the juices. A light coating of olive oil, infused with ground spices and herbs, gives me the best results, particularly with chicken. Turn the meat frequently for the first five minutes, and try not to leave the meat unattended. Plan your side dishes accordingly; focus on the fire! The best way to tell if your meat is cooked properly: the Taylor 8018N Commercial Antimicrobial Instant Read Thermometer. It is my gold standard for measuring the doneness of any meat. No electronic tongs, no digital anything. Go analog, and go into the center of the meat. Wait until the temperature stabilizes. Familiarize yourself with the proper cooking temperatures for all meats. Meat, when removed from the flame, should be allowed to stand for at least five minutes. It is important to note the meat will continue to cook while resting; its temperature may rise another 5 to 10 degrees. Factor in this increase when using the analog thermometer. Arrange meats on the serving plate in order of doneness, left side being the rarest cuts. As grillmaster, you should also serve the meats. —Bob Mould

Bob Mould blogs at modulate.blogspot.com. Send questions to askbob@washingtoncitypaper.com.