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Thyme for Cooking Kitchen Food Tips:  Cooking Meat

Please note:  Meat and poultry should rest 5 - 25 minutes before serving/slicing (depending on size).  This allows for the juices, that have accumulated on the surface, to seep back into the meat, making it more tender and juicy.  The internal temperature will continue to rise 5 - 10 degrees Fahrenheit (2 - 4 Celsius) while resting.  The temperatures given are the point at which you remove from heat. 

Please also note:  These are NOT the U.S. Food Safety Guidelines.  They recommend that all meat be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F minimum, particularly for the very young, elderly, pregnant or anyone with a compromised immune system.  They define a rare steak as one cooked to 140F.

Type Description F C
Beef
very rare
Red, cool center
120F
48C
rare Red, warm center
125F
52C
medium rare hot, red - pink center
135F
55C
medium bit of pink in center
145F
62C
medium well gray, not best
155F
68C
Veal same as beef    
Pork slightly pink okay
145F
62C
Lamb
rosy / rare
mainly pink center
125F
52C
medium rare less pink in center
135C
57C
Poultry      
Chicken, breast juices / clear when pierced
160F
71C
Chicken, thigh juices / clear when pierced
170F
77C
Turkey, breast juices / clear when pierced
165F
74C
Turkey, thigh juices / clear when pierced
180F
82C
Whole duck juices / clear when pierced
180F
82C
Duck breast, Magret best rare / medium rare - same as beef
125
52C
Fish should flake and turn opaque    

If you don't have a thermometer you have to figure it out some other way:

Clear juices:   For poultry the juices should run clear when you poke it.  Stick a knife or skewer into the poultry as far as you can or to the middle.  When you pull it out there should be clear juices running from the slit.  If the juices are pink it's not done.  For whole birds I highly recommend a thermometer.  It is too easy to overcook them without a proper thermometer which makes them dry and tough. I have the kind that sits outside the oven with a wand in the meat - works great!

Cut & peak: For chicken breasts and other small pieces I make a small cut in the center of one, pull the sides apart and look: if it is not pink it is done.  The same works for pork although I allow that to be a bit pink.  Use the same method for lamb, veal or beef except that now you need only determine if it is done to your preference from rare to well!

Thumb test: I couldn't say it better myself so here is an explanation of the thumb test with great photos at http://bit.ly/1FlnbJ3