Neither a protein's texture nor color should be the only indicator of whether it's safe and ready to serve. Only by checking an item's internal temperature can you determine if it has reached its proper serving temperature. That's why a cooking thermometer is vital to serving guests consistently-cooked and safe-to-eat steaks, burgers, chops, and filets. Simple dial-type mechanical thermometers are affordable enough that you can provide every cook in your kitchen with his or her own. They're fairly easy to calibrate, but don't have quite the life expectancy of electronic alternatives. The most precise readings are provided with a digital meat thermometer. Those range from simple pocket thermometers to highly-dependable thermocouples with detachable probes that report temperatures very quickly. For checking surface temperatures, invest in an infrared thermometer.