In my experience, this is the most important principle when you’re cooking without a recipe. Taste your food. Don’t wait until it’s done before you taste it. Taste it in the beginning before you’ve added everything, taste it in the middle and again at the end to make final adjustments. Your palate is your best guide for everything. It can tell you whether your dish is cooked long enough or if you’ve added enough or not enough of an ingredient. Whether you’re following a recipe or not, you want your dish to taste great and the only way to know how good it’s going to be is to try it. The only caveat here is you don’t want to taste a dish where meat might be undercooked. If this is the case, you’ll have to hold your tasting utensils until the meat is done for food-safety reasons.