Cooking ABC's

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Flawless Cooking

Letting Your Meat Rest

Using and Understanding Different Types of Cooking Thermometers

 

Flawless Cooking: Beef, Lamb & Veal

The best way to achieve your desired level of doneness is to use a meat thermometer.

Insert the meat thermometer into the largest and/or thickest part of the cut avoiding any bones or grizzle. Bones or grizzle may give a false positive reading that your cut is done.

Most importantly, when you remove your cut from its heat source, it holds its internal heat and will continue cooking for a short time.

To ensure that you selection is cooked to perfection; remove your cut when it is approximately 4 to 10 degrees below the suggested final temperature and let the cut of meat rest.


Our Recommended Final Cooking Temperatures

Rare

Medium Rare

Medium

Medium Well

Well Done

125°

130°-135°

140°-145°

150°-155°

160°-165°

Soft, juicy with red center

Tender with dark pink center

Firm with tan to light pink center

More firm, light brown with small pink center

Consistent light brown with dark edges

Personal tastes vary. The above is only a recommendation. The USDA suggests cooking whole cuts of meat to Medium (145°) with a three-minute rest time. The recommended cooking temperature for ground meats is to well done (160°) and doesn’t require any rest time.

Safe Handling Instructions

This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions.

  • Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.

Slow Cooking: Stews, Potted Meats and Braises

When utilizing a slow cooking method the use of a thermometer is not effective. To check for doneness stick a two-pronged fork into the meat. If the fork comes out with very little resistance then the meat is probably done. If you encounter resistance, your cut likely needs more cooking time in its heat source.

Tip: If you are slow cooking a dish to be reheated, do not cook the meat completely. Slightly undercooking your entrée will enable you to reheat perfectly and prevent it from falling apart.

How to Cook: Ground Meat

Ground meat, especially hamburgers, are often cooked to the same degree of doneness as steaks. Depending on the way you like your hamburgers cooked consult our recommended final cooking temperatures and use an instant read thermometer to achieve your degree of doneness.

When cooking a meatloaf or meatballs, it is desirable to continue cooking until you reach Medium Well to Well Done, about 155° to 160° with an instant read thermometer.

Flawless Cooking: Pork

Use an instant read thermometer to achieve the proper level of doneness when cooking pork. Insert the thermometer into the largest and/or thickest part of the cut avoiding any bones or grizzle. Bones or grizzle may give a false positive reading that your cut is done.

Please note: When you remove your pork from its heat source, it holds its internal heat and will continue cooking for a short time.

To ensure that you selection is cooked to perfection; remove your cut approximately 4 to 10 degrees below the suggested final temperature.

Our Recommended Final Cooking Temperature

150°

Slightly pink in center, mostly white on outside

Personal tastes vary. The above is only a recommendation. The USDA suggests cooking pork to Medium (145°) with a three-minute rest time.

Safe Handling Instructions

This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions.

  • Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.

Why cook to approximately 150°?

According to the CDC, Trichinellosis, also called Trichinosis, is relatively rare. Trichinosis is believed to be eliminated at approximately 137°. To allow for inaccuracies in different thermometers and their placement, most experts recommend cooking pork to 145°. Follow this guideline and pork entrées should be juicy and safe to enjoy. Overcooking will only cause your cut to eat tough and dry. The USDA suggests cooking pork to Medium (145°) with a three-minute rest time.

For further information, please refer to the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/.../faqs.html

Slow Cooked: Stews, Potted Meats and Braises

When utilizing a slow cooking method the use of a thermometer is not effective. To check for doneness stick a two-pronged fork into the meat. If the fork comes out with very little resistance then the meat is probably done. If you encounter resistance your cut likely needs more cooking time in its heat source.

Tip: If you are slow cooking a dish to be reheated, do not cook the meat completely. Slightly undercooking your entrée will enable you to reheat perfectly and prevent it from falling apart.

How to Cook Ground Pork

Ground pork is often cooked to the same degree of doneness as other pork cuts. Consult our recommended final cooking temperatures and use an instant read thermometer to achieve your degree of doneness.

Flawless Cooking: Poultry

Use an instant read thermometer to achieve the proper level of doneness in poultry. Insert the meat thermometer into the largest and/or thickest part of your poultry cut avoiding any bones or grizzle. Bones or grizzle may give a false positive reading that your cut is done.

Please note: When you remove your poultry from its heat source, it holds its internal heat and will continue cooking for a short time.

To ensure that you selection is cooked to perfection; remove when it is approximately 4 -10 degrees below the suggested final temperature.

Our Recommended Final Cooking Temperature

160°

White on inside

Personal tastes vary. The above is only a recommendation. The USDA suggests cooking Poultry to 165°.

Safe Handling Instructions

This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions.

  • Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.

How to Cook Ground Poultry

Many people tend to overcook ground poultry. The most efficient way to ensure doneness is to use an instant read thermometer. When it reads approximately 160° your ground poultry is most probably cooked to the proper temperature.

Let Your Meat Rest:

What is Rest Time?

“Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise to the suggested final temperature.

Beef, Lamb, Veal and Pork

It is crucial to allow cuts to rest after cooking. “Resting” helps meat remain succulent and juicy. Cover meat loosely with aluminum foil. Allow smaller cuts to rest for up to 10 minutes and larger pieces approximately 20 minutes.

Poultry

It is necessary to let a whole chicken or turkey rest after cooking. Cover poultry loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for up to 10 minutes. A larger whole bird may need up to 20 minutes rest after removing it from your heat source.

Using and Understanding Different Types of Cooking Thermometers

A thermometer is the most important cooking instrument in your kitchen. It is not only very useful to test for the doneness of meats and poultry depending on your taste, but is essential to avoid food borne illness. The most common types are instant read, electronic probe and candy, jelly and deep-fat fry thermometers.

Electronic probe thermometers have a probe that remains in the food during the cooking process. This device can offer cooks the ability to monitor the temperature without opening the oven or grill.

Instant read thermometers have a stainless steel stem with either a dial or a digital readout. Some instant reads have ovenproof dials that are outfitted with a glass face that can remain in the oven or grill. Other instant reads have a plastic face that are not ovenproof. These thermometers must be inserted and reinserted to check doneness of meat. This method is less preferable because frequent opening of the oven or grill disturbs consistency of temperature.

Candy, jelly and deep-fat fry thermometers withstand much higher heat. These thermometers are much longer and contain a hook to attach it to the side of the pot. They typically measure temperatures up to 400° while instant reads usually measure up to 220°.

For most applications, the instant read is the simplest and quickest way to see if your food product is at the desired doneness. Insert the thermometer approximately halfway through the thicker part of your cut (usually about 2 inches) and wait for the needle to settle to take your reading. The reading should take between 10-15 seconds to register. Thin foods such as hamburgers, chicken breasts or pork chops may require insertion in the side. Please note: Avoid slicing into a cut of meat to check for doneness as this can result in overcooking.

It is necessary to periodically check the accuracy of a food thermometer to obtain the right final cooking temperature. Two techniques are recommended:

  1. Ice Water Method: Fill a large glass with finely crushed ice. Add clean water to the top of the ice and stir well. Immerse the thermometer stem a minimum of 2 inches into the mixture. The thermometer should read 32°F after 30 seconds.
  1. Boiling Water Method: Bring water in a deep pan to a full rolling boil. Immerse the stem of the thermometer 2 inches into boiling water. The thermometer should read 212°F after 30 seconds.

Follow manufacturer's recommendations. Most dial thermometers have a calibration nut under the dial that can be adjusted. Check the package for instructions.

Tip: Once a thermometer reads close to the desired temperature it takes only a short time for your cut to reach its optimal temperature. For example, if your roast reads 150° with an instant read thermometer it may take only about 5-7 minutes more to reach your optimal cooking temperature of 160°.

For more information on thermometers visit:

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/.../Kitchen_Thermometers.pdf

USDA Recommended Cooking Temperatures

Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy food borne bacteria.

Food °F
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures  
Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160
Turkey, Chicken 165
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Veal  
Steaks, Roasts, & Chops 145**
**as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
Poultry  
Chicken and Turkey, Whole or Pieces 165
Poultry Breasts, Roast 165
Poultry Thighs, Wings 165
Duck and Goose 165
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165
Fresh Pork 160
Ham  
Fresh (raw) 145**
Pre-cooked (to reheat) 140

Abridged from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/.../Kitchen_Thermometers.pdf

For more information, consult the websites below:

Checking the Accuracy of Food Thermometers at

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/.../kitchen-thermometers

Or

Food Safety Information: Kitchen Thermometers at

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Kitchen_Thermometers.pdf

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