Grilling Tips: Knowing When Your Food is Ready
This blog post is all about the best way to know when your meat is done cooking. When grilling and smoking, you're going to be taking an internal temperature. When we say internal temperature, this means you are taking the temperature inside the food you are cooking. You are using a food thermometer to check that a safe temperature has been reached, harmful bacteria have been destroyed, and your food is cooked perfectly. When measuring for internal temperature, we recommend using an instant-read probe thermometer, but you could also use a remote thermometer or wireless thermometer. Always insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from bones or fat.
Yes, your smoker temperature is important, the cook temperature is important, but the most important is internal temperature - the temperature inside of the food.
Why Temperature Matters
The internal temperature of the food you're grilling matters for a few reasons. First of all, for food safety reasons, but also for optimal flavor, juiciness, moisture and tenderness.
Each type of protein has its own recommended internal temperature. The USDA recommends that you cook each protein to medium doneness. These are the basic guidelines based on those rules, but we encourage you to do your own research on the specific cut you choose to make sure you are serving it at the optimal temperature.
For beef, you should cook to at least 145 degrees and allow it to rest for at least three minutes. For the best flavor, we recommend letting it rest for at least ten minutes.
Fresh cuts of pork, like pork chops, pork roasts, and pork lion are considered done at 145 degrees as well but depending on the type of cut you may choose to cook it longer. For example, a pork butt will shred at 205 degrees and ground pork should be cooked to about 160 degrees. Be sure you leave time to rest your pork as well for the more flavorful result.
All poultry should be cooked to at least 165 degrees, but you may also prefer to cook fattier cuts like thighs and wings to a higher temperature. Fish and seafood are considered done at 145 degrees.
If you've ever had an overcooked, dry, chalky chicken breast, temperature was the problem.
Carryover Cooking Explained
When talking about internal temperature, we must also talk about carryover cooking. Your meat will continue to cook even after it has been removed from the grill or smoker. So, you'll want to remove it when it is about five degrees less than your goal temperature. For about 15 minutes after you pull it off, the exterior temperature of the item releases its heat in two directions, so the meat's interior gets warmer even as the outside grows cooler.
So, before you start grilling, be sure to get yourself a trusty thermometer. Using these quick tips will not only result in a safe eating experience, but also help you serve up a juicy tender, and delicious meal every time.