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Jan 19, 2011 12:27 PM

a question for you Thermapen users

Just recently acquired a Thermapen and was wondering at what temps do you consider certain foods done. I realize that there are plenty of resources out there(Cook's Illustrated for example) that list correct temperatures for when foods are cooked or cooked to a particular taste, but after years of having to adjust these temps for "realistic temps" on old instruments I thought I would put out this question for my own sample data.

Thanks guys

PS - im not looking for USDA guidlines either - just good tasting food - and red meat in all degrees( rare - well done)

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  1. You say you aren't looking for USDA guidelines, but IME, the temperature chart given at the ThermoWorks website (which is copied from USDA guidelines) is pretty accurate for judging the doneness of steaks. Admittedly, I might tend to go 5 degrees (C) below the temperature listed for "medium rare" to get a nice juicy steak that is pink in the center.

    7 Replies
    1. re: tanuki soup

      Honestly, I don't find that chart to be quite accurate, at least for red meat - if you go to a good steakhouse and order medium, it;s not gonna be cooked to 160. I often see charts like that made by product manufacturers, and I believe they err on the side of more cooked, either to discourage lawsuit or to meet the standards of a less foodie-centric public than this board typically represents.

      For me (and most good restaurants IME), roughly:
      rare - 120 f
      med rare 130-135
      medium 145
      medium well 155-160
      well 165 +

      Fish and shellfish:
      salmon ~130 (lower for many sous vide applications)
      Tuna - i don't even know. Seared on the outside, raw on the inside. Never tried to take a temp, but it would be quite low.

      same as beef - I'll often make lamb medium rare or medium, far below 160

      - if good quality, pull it out when the coolest part is 155. Lower for many sous vide applications, especially with breast meat. Be cautious with most supermarket birds.

      -I like med rare for breast meat ~135-140. Legs and thighs are better cooked hotter.

      True 160 is well done, but I like it lower - 145 when pulled out of the oven (I'll do 135 sous vide, but that puts plenty of people off, and opens up the can of worms that is trichinosis, so I won't really go there). YMMV

      The temps listed above, except when otherwise noted like for pork and chicken, are final temps, not pre-resting temps. Of course, the best way to know what you like is to experiment.

      1. re: cowboyardee

        Thanks cowboy for your run-down. I follow most of those temp guideliness too -- though I often have to look them up again before I start the meat.

        However, I don't worry about trichinosis in pork anymore (in the US). Feeding practices in the last 30 years have almost eradicated it from the pork supply, and most of the handful of cases in the US come from game meat and not domesticated pork. I usually take my pork out 135-140 and let it set with about a 5-degree residual temp rise.

        As to the USDA guidelines, they take into account chef error in cooking and inaccurate temperature gauges, so the gov't sets the recommendation higher to compensate for errors. At least with the Thermapen that last variable is pretty much eliminated.

        1. re: smkit

          "However, I don't worry about trichinosis in pork anymore (in the US)."
          I don't either. For the same reasons you posted. But I didn't want people freaking out on me over the matter, so I'll keep finishing pork at 135 for myself and hoping that someday I might be able to order medium rare pork in a restaurant and actually get it or maybe even serve it to a guest and not have them look at me like I'm trying to poison them. Pork at 135 is delicious IMO.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            According to Nathan Myhrvold, the few recent cases of tric in the US have been caused from eating bear meat. No pork related cases

        2. re: cowboyardee

          I agree with every temp you listed and the thermapen allows one to get pretty darn close to those on the button.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            thanks cowboyardee. when you pull the chicken is there even the faintest hint of pink? and how does the pork appear at 145?

            1. re: blackbookali

              When pulling a roast chicken at 155, as long as that's the temp of the coolest most insulated meat, there is no pink after resting it. There is sometimes a reddish hue near certain bones that's not underdone meat but... i don't know... marrow leaching from the bones? I find it less troubling than overdone chicken.

              Pork at 145 can depend on the cut. There is often a pinkish hue to the middle of the meat, notably with thick cut bone in pork chops (less so with a loin). A little less obvious than with beef cooked to the same temp, since beef is redder in the first place. This obviously puts off some people, but the pork is delicious.

        3. Is this question open only to Thermapen users?

          1. The important thing, in most cases, is to take me off the heat when it is 5-10 degrees under where you want to eat it. My norm for beef and lamb is to pull the piece when it hits 125, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and enjoy at a nice medium/medium rare.