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Ideal internal temp for rack of pork???

I'm doing a four rib rack of pork tonight and would like your opinion on the ideal internal temperature. Is 160 too done? Thanks all and happy new year (this is our delayed New Year's dinner - black-eyed peas, rice and collards.)

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  1. Inasmuch as food safety is a primary goal in my kitchen and that I find pork at 160 degrees (USDA recommended templ. for pork) is tender, juicy and tasty, I would shoot for that finished temp. I usually remove the meat from the heat at 155 or so and allow it to rest because it generally increases in temperature after it's removed from the oven. When taken from the oven I tent it, loosely, and allow it to rest on the counter. My meat thermometer tells me when it's reached optimum temperature. It isn't unusual for the temperature to run a bit over 160 using this method but the quality of the dish remains high and food borne illnesses are avoided.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      I actually took it out at 145+ and it rested for probably 20 minutes (the rice just didn't want to get done). It was perfect. Thanks for your help.

      1. re: c oliver

        I do it to 160 here and it is always perfect, texture is wonderful and moist.

    2. Today's pork is very safe, and usually far too lean. It no longer needs to be cooked welldone, to a chalky white or grey -- a touch of pink is actually preferred in rack or rib chop. I'd pull it out at 140 and let it coast to 145.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        I get a little frustrated sometimes when reading about food preparation and safety, and what I read about pork is a perfect example, nosh. From some sources I have read that things like trichinosis (sp) are no longer an issue; then, on other sites, I'll read that, yes, they still do exist. I've tried checking for dates of publication on the source material, or if there might be something that distinguishes the conflicting information (e.g., is one site talking mass producers, and the other independents--or whatever might explain the discrepancy), but so far I haven't been able to figure out rhyme or reason to disparate reports.

        So I guess we all have to experiment to see what satisfies our preferences. I hear from so many people now who enjoy their pork as you do, with just a touch of pink, and I haven't heard of any dire consequences from that. OTOH, my husband and I both prefer our meats to be well-done, which, in the case of pork means, not well done as beef would be, but a touch of pink is not preferred. We certainly don't want to dry it out or undermine the tenderness, though, so I try to find that exact moment when I can remove it and count on the residual cooking to remove that last bit of pink. The last boneless loin roast I took out at 150, let it rest, and it was perfect for us. Some of the best pork I've ever eaten, if I do say so myself...creamy, not grey, awfully tender, very juicy. Now...I'm a little confused as to whether I should take a rib roast out at just a little bit before than 150, or just after it.

        1. re: Steady Habits

          I worked at Center for Disease Control in the parasitology area in the mid-1960s. At that time they said that trichinosis was no longer found in commercially processed pork. Still possible to get from farm raised but not otherwise. CDC does have a website so you may want to check there and see if they release that type of info. Just a thought.

        2. re: nosh

          Yes you are right. If you take out at more than 140 you will tend to get a dry serving. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so. Even then when I cut it I see the desired faint pink hue--but even then by the time the chop is completely consumed it will probably cook itself further and lose most of the pink color. My refrigerator is very cold; so, take the roast out of the refrigerator prior to roasting maybe two hours prior to help foster even cooking

          Mix dijon, olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme, salt pepper into a mayonnaise in you mini-food processor. Brown the meat first in a cast iron skillet--all sides.

          Do 450 for 15 minutes reduce to 350 0r 325 -take the roast out, paste on the mayo that you created and get breadcrumbs to adhere to all sides. Back in the oven in a shallow roating pan and take it out at 140.

        3. Also depends on the quality of the meat. If you buy top-quality, heirloom pork you can cook it to medium rare/medium. The flavor and texture is far superior to your average pork that needs to be cooked well for safety reasons associated with CAFO practices. I was at a dinner with some folks from Niman Ranch several months ago and they educated us on pork practices. It's worth finding a local butcher that sells the best pork in your area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Shane Greenwood

            Good points, Shane. I'm on the Left Coast and the pork out here isn't the same (not nearly as good) as the pork I've experienced in my travels around the country. Midwest pork , for example, is far superior to what I can get out here. I guess it'd be a good idea, when offering suggestions, to mention that so the individual seeking input can factor those elements into any decisions. Then again, not everyone who posts on the forum shares the same culinary background/experience and it's important to understand that the novice needs a little more help than the expert. Oh, to find a middle ground ....

            1. re: Shane Greenwood

              I'm one of those people who live in a "magic house" and would rather throw a piece of pork away than to overcook it. It is SO lean these days - at least what's easily available to most of us - that that "chalky white/grey" is guaranteed to be dry and tasteless.

            2. trichinosis is dead by 137-140 degrees.

              1. With a rack of pork ribs I wouldn't really worry too much about the internal temp. I would cook them for as long and slow as possible under the lowest possible heat. After 6 hours they are definitely done and great, but more time is always fine as well.

                If you are under pretty tight time restraints, you might have to rush the pork, and then you will have to worry about the internal temp, but then your ribs probably won't taste as good either.

                Good luck.


                5 Replies
                1. re: GourmetGastronomer

                  Actually it wasn't just the ribs but the meat and ribs) itself. Like one would use for a crown rib pork roast --- or whatever it's called. I'd never cooked them until Costco started carrying at this time of year. You rub with oil after seasoning, brown on all sides and then roast at 450 for 15 min., reduce to 350. Costco's instructions say to cook approx. 20 min/lb til an internal temp of 160. They would have to say that but I knew that, after resting, it would be overcooked - for our taste anyway. Taking it out at 145 worked perfectly. This 4-ribber was just half and the other half is in the freezer. Wish we'd brought more as they probably won't have when we go back.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    speaking of "magic" (as in magic houses) that costco rack of pork was serious magic! i cooked 4 of them during the holiday season, including 2 for a cooking class that had the students running for the nearest costco...each of them was absolutely divine. the last was for christmas dinner, and i collaborated with my son, who is also a cook. was gonna whip up a little pan sauce to accompany it, but chef-boy took a nibble as he was carving, and succintly summed it up--"don' need no sauce!"... i have four in the freezer, and i NEVER use frozen meat...but i will be trying a technique i've been reading about on another website, which is to cook the frozen roast from frozen, without defrosting. we shall see....but i'm already looking forward to those fresh ones again next year. here in so CA, they were $2.99 lb, which was a silly-good price!

                    1. re: chez cherie

                      There is a complicated relationship between quality of the pork, the history of pork production in the US, desired internal cooking temperature, the resulting quality of the finished product, and where people buy their meat. This is why it pains me to read when people buy their meat at warehouses like Costco and Sam's Club. Today's pork had been driven to be extremely lean. In part because of the lack of fat marbling the meat, and in part very rapid growth of pork due to feeding regimes and growth hormones, the resulting meat is pretty bland and dry. This makes hitting the "right" internal temperature critical to get something that has some flavor and juiciness. On the plus side, there has been a great effort o bring the trichinosis incidence down, which means that in practice, hitting about 140-145 degrees for internal temperature is now fairly (very?) safe. But it's still a bit like squeezing water from a stone - today's commercial pork simply does not have a ton of flavor. All we can do is make sure that the little flavor and moisture there is doesn't disappear. But it's still a stacked equation.

                      As long as $2.99 a pound pork loin is in demand, we'll keep having an inferior product. On the plus side, there are several small farm / heritage breed producers to choose from. Which is where I usually get my pork.

                      Perhaps when people start putting quality of quantity, we'll be able to have more of a margin with cooking temperature without having to worry about food safety one the one hand or flavor and juiciness on the other.

                      For what it's worth, I try to hit pork loins (including rib roasts) to 140, then pull from the oven to coast it up to 145. That seems to strike the very narrow balance between there being little to no pink to satisfy the well-done fans like Steady Habits above, and my mom, and minimize the risk of a dry product.

                      1. re: foreverhungry

                        Just a couple of notes to better inform you.

                        There are NO growth hormones approved for use in pork production. None...check your facts before you look ignorant. None in chicken either, but marketing companies like Perdue put the claim on their label to "steal money from ignorant people".

                        Secondly, Costco has very high quality meat. Its safe and affordable and available. Good combinations.

                        1. re: Porkboss

                          Apologies. Correct, growth hormones are not approved by the FDA for use in pigs. However, drugs are given to pigs: low does antibiotics, and ractopamine, which boosts growth and lean muscle mass.

                          Whether it's a hormone or not, the fact remains that the majority of today's pigs are fed drugs to boost growth and muscle.

                          As for Costco, their pork is safe and it is affordable. I personally find it has little taste. To each their own.

                2. In cooking school, we were taught to cook pork to 145 internal temp. This counters everything I ever learned at my mother's knee. Pork was cooked until it was white as a bone and the juices ran clear. Pork 25 years ago was still quite flavorful and well marbled and moist, even at that temp, Today, a boneless pork loin is the other white meat, just as bland and dry as skinless, boneless chicken breast. At 145-150 it still has some moisture.

                  1. Since this got revived I'll give an update from a few weeks ago. We did a full rack and, per Costco's instructions, I seared on the grill first. But we were house exchanging and I didn't realize how hot there grill was. After five minutes, I opened the lid and the thing was basically on fire! I reduced the high temp cooking to five minutes and it was still at 160 before I could bat an eye (that's relative, ya know). But I pulled it out, covered with foil and got the rest of the meal done (probably 30 minutes). It was barely tepid but very moist and flavorful. BTW, I agree with those who say we've bred the flavor out of pork and I really am tryting to eat "better" meats.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: c oliver

                      Funny you mention that ( - sometimes I will prepare a thai style slightly moist rub and completely cover a relatively thin racks cut in three rib pieces. Let sit at room temp, and then cook them real quick over very high heat. Meat side down first til charred and then flip to bone side. Something like peanuts, soy, fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger and whatever. Kind of like street food. Probably well above 140, and maybe to 160, but since it cooks so fast, they remain tender.

                      Had a brisket once at a friend's who had just gotten a big green egg. He chose to cook his first brisket ever on a pit that he had never used. And invite a bunch of people. He set it on first as well, then quenched the heat. Turned out to be one of the best I've had.

                      And (I digress, but this is funny). I started a turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving 1990 and then went to the store. My father-in-law was in charge of watching things. Came home, and he was reading the newspaper in a kitchen filled with smoke. I don't know how the heat got turned up. Opened the oven, and the wing tips were on fire. Corrected the situation, and that was the third best turkey I've ever had in my life. Sorry to go off topic - I usually pull pork roasts at 147. I know that's real specific, but it is like a magic number for me!

                      EDIT - crap, just realize that this thread is years old except for one addition. I hope someone reads this!!!!

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        It's threads like this that argue in favor of threads not being locked at a certain 'age.' As valid today as when I started it lo those many years ago :)

                    2. So I have a 25 pound pork shoulder cooking...what's best internal temp? still 145?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: 404cook

                        Shoulder is very, very different from rack of pork/pork loin. The loin and chops you want to do medium, 140-150. Not much fat there.

                        But the shoulder is what we use for BBQ... very fatty chunk of meat. And that nasty, tough collagen. It does not really start to break down ril it goes past 170. There are two ways to go. Either about 180-185 internal, so that you can slice it, or about 200 internal, when you will be able to pull it apart. In either case, you might want to add different kinds of sauce. Also, that 25-lber could take a whole 24 hours to cook, depending on approach. How are you doing it? Smoker, oven, low temp, higher temp, open or covered... how long do you expect it to take to be "done?"

                        1. re: woodburner

                          Cooking it in a standard oven at about 350 deg. Am currently at 147, been slow cooking most of the day. I assumed it should be at least 185.