11 March 2019
What is the correct core temperature?
Have you bought a delicious steak to prepare on your Big Green Egg? Or are you planning on preparing a juicy chicken or a whole salmon on the BBQ? With a probe thermometer within reach, you can’t go wrong. In this blog we explain everything about core temperatures, how to measure them and what the most important temperatures are.
In this blog you will find the perfect core temperatures for:
Note: The stated core temperatures are the temperatures after the meat has rested if necessary. In other words, these are the final core temperatures.
The time it takes to perfectly cook your product depends on various factors. These include the type of food, of course, as well as its thickness and the cooking temperature. For example, if a recipe tells you to use a beef steak of 175 gr, its thickness will also have a major influence on the cooking time. This is sometimes more important than weight. A difference in thickness of one centimetre may make the difference between rare and medium.
The initial temperature of your product also plays a key role. Has it just come out of the fridge or is it already at room temperature? Another essential aspect is the type of grid. If you only grill something briefly, a stainless steel grid gives off less contact heat than a cast iron grid. Not having the grid at the right temperature can also make a difference to your end product.
With a cast iron grid you can grill meat at a lower temperature as it retains heat better.
Knowledge is power
In addition to the initial temperature of your product, the temperature of your kamado also plays an important role, especially with longer preparation times. A difference of ten degrees on a two-hour preparation time results in a core temperature difference of a few degrees. It is therefore important to calibrate the thermometer of your dome from time to time. Even if it is exactly right, it is still a good idea to measure the core temperature of your product to be sure.
If your recipe tells you to cook the beef roulade at a temperature of 100°C but your guests have already arrived, you can carefully raise the temperature of your EGG so that your meat is ready faster. After all, cooking is about temperature just as much as time.
In short, if you can measure the right core temperature, you can experiment considerably and reduce the chance of mistakes.
The core temperature of beef
Each food type has its own core temperature. When you order a beef steak in a restaurant, you are almost always asked whether you want it rare, medium-rare, medium or well-done. There is a well-known trick to determine how well done a steak is, which involves touching the palm of your hand. However, this method gives only an indication. It also requires a lot of experience and can only be used on steaks. After all, the core temperature of beef can vary from 48 to 92°C, depending on the desired result, the cut of meat and its thickness.
Results for core temperatures of beef
For a tender steak you can even set a temperature of 42°C, although this is not common, and the meat will be lukewarm inside. For beef, the approximate temperatures are 48-50°C for rare, 51-53°C for medium-rare, 54-57°C for medium and 63°C or higher for well-done. These temperatures only apply to the tender beef cuts.
To achieve a good result with stewing steak, a core temperature of at least 85°C is required. This is because this meat contains tough connective tissue, which only changes its structure at a temperature of 74°C, after which the meat becomes tender and juicy. However, when making a stew it is quite easy to judge whether the meat is tender enough. Achieving a good result with a brisket, an American BBQ classic, requires a core temperature of at least 87°C.
The core temperature of lamb
Here, too, everything depends on how well done you want your meat to be. Lamb is young and tender and contains little to no connective tissue. For example, if you maintain a core temperature of about 60°C for a rack of lamb, the meat will be deliciously medium-rare (rosé). A higher core temperature is not necessary for this delicious meat.
The core temperature of pork
Pork is unique in its own way. Because of its sensitivity to MRSA and salmonella, it is important to maintain a minimum core temperature of 60°C. Although the risk of infection is small nowadays thanks to strict rules, there is no point in taking any unnecessary risks. Depending on your preference, aim for a core temperature of 60 to 70°C for pork. An exception to this is pulled pork, for which a whole pork shoulder, neck or pork butt is used. To be able to pull the meat apart properly, you generally need a core temperature of about 85°C.
If you smoke pork, you may well see a pink discolouration of the cooked meat. The same applies to other types of meat and poultry and says nothing about the doneness of the meat. So just trust the temperature on your probe thermometer.
The core temperature of chicken
Poultry such as chicken and turkey is also susceptible to bacteria. Consumers are generally warned about cross contamination with these products, even though this actually applies to all types of meat, poultry and fish. With chicken and turkey it is best to maintain a core temperature of 70-72°C. The meat is then fully cooked and any bacteria are killed, while the meat stays nice and juicy. You could use a higher temperature, but your meat will be drier.
When you cook a whole chicken or turkey, the various sections have different sizes. That’s why it’s important to insert the pin of your probe thermometer into the core of the thigh joint. This is the thickest part of the bird, so if this is sufficiently cooked you can be sure that the other parts are done as well. Make sure that the pin of the probe thermometer isn’t touching the bone. The temperature of bone rises quickly during the cooking process compared to that of the meat and could therefore give a distorted picture. Incidentally, this doesn’t just apply to poultry.
The core temperature of fish
There are a few tricks to determine if fish is properly cooked. When it comes to whole fish, a good guideline is whether you can easily pull out the dorsal fin by hand. With fish fillets such as salmon, you will see solidified protein released along the edges. This is another sign that your fish is cooked and that you can remove it from the BBQ. But here, too, a probe thermometer would make things easier for you. For fish types such as tuna and salmon, it is better not to have the core temperature too high. 50°C is high enough, otherwise the flesh of the fish may become dry, which would be a shame. Whitefish like cod can be cooked at a slightly higher temperature, with a core of around 58°C. When it comes to whole fish, make sure that the pin of the probe thermometer isn’t touching any bones. As with meat, the temperature of bones rises faster than that of the flesh.
The core temperature of vegetables
The core temperature of vegetables is not generally measured. Moreover, the core temperature of vegetables is less important than that of meat, fish or poultry because food safety isn’t a concern. After all, you can eat many vegetables raw and the doneness and desired bite is mainly a matter of personal preference. When roasting whole tubers, you could measure the core temperature to determine whether the tuber is cooked. The core is wonderfully soft at 90°C.
How to measure the core temperature
In order to determine the core temperature properly, it is important to push the pin of the thermometer deep into the core of your product. To be sure, always use the thickest part. If you are going to prepare a whole tenderloin, for example, it is recommended to fold back the thinner end and tie it down with a piece of butcher’s string. This way you will have a nice uniform piece of meat which will cook very evenly. As mentioned before, make sure that the pin of your thermometer isn’t touching a (fish) bone. If your meat contains a lot of fat, you should consider that this has an insulating effect. The temperature of fat is a few degrees lower than that of the surrounding meat.
Which thermometer for what?
A probe thermometer can be found under different names, such as meat thermometer, kitchen thermometer and cooking thermometer. The term meat thermometer probably dates back to the time when you pushed an analogue thermometer into a large piece of meat and looked at it regularly. These are only suitable for large pieces of meat. Nowadays there are much more convenient digital versions. Which thermometer works best for you depends on what you are going to prepare. Our Dual Probe Remote Thermometer is ideal for large pieces of meat. Insert the pin into the core of the meat, close the lid of your EGG and set the desired core temperature. As soon as it is reached, the receiver will give a signal. For steaks and fillets, thinner products that you grill on both sides, it is better to use the Instant Read Thermometer. If you suspect that the desired core temperature has (almost) been reached, insert the pin of this thermometer into the core of your product and within seconds the display will show the core temperature. This is useful if the product requires turning and rotating, but you can also use it for larger cuts.
Leaving meat to rest
It is a well-known fact that by leaving meat to rest after cooking, less meat juices are lost when carving. A lesser-known fact is that as the meat rests the core temperature increases by another 2 to 3°C! This should be taken into account, because otherwise you may cook the meat for longer than desired.
Do you want to know how to control the temperature of your EGG perfectly? We explain everything on this page!
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