I started writing this a while back... never imagining that we would all be doing a lot more cooking at home. So it seems a good time to put out this post on a way to help make results of home cooking more predictable and safe! Also ... if anyone has questions on cooking, don't hesitate to shoot me a question (call, text message, or FB messenger). Based on what I see sold out at the grocery stores, I imagine that a lot of people have some strange combinations of food in their kitchens. I'm here if you have questions on cooking beans or anything else! And now that I seem to have some time on my hands, I will try to get some more recipes posted (including above meatloaf).
The people that read my blog (I think its my mom and 2 friends) know that my background is engineering, and that I can geek out on the science of cooking. The chemical changes that food undergoes as you heat it (otherwise known as cooking) fascinates me. And there just so happens to be a useful metric to know when things are cooked... it's temperature! The best way to tell if things are done on the inside (especially big dense things, like meatloaf, roasts or turkeys) is to take the temperature with a thermometer. I think the best thermometer available is the Thermopen (and no, they are not sponsoring me). The Thermopen's read much faster than others on the market, so you can move through something like a steak and find the coolest spot in the center. Go directly to the Thermoworks website to get one, not Amazon.
Temperature is widely used to determine doneness of meat ... rare, medium rare, well all correspond to a temperature range. While you can determine doneness on thinner cuts of meat by pressing to see how firm it is, this is more challenging to do on thicker cuts of steak or roasts... Plus it takes a lot of practice and experience to be good at it. You can also use temperature to know if a casserole is cooked (and hot enough to safe), to tell if bread is done, as well as jams or candy. Temperature is also handy for fish like salmon or tuna that you don't want fully cooked to the "flakes easily" (and dried out) stage. Here is a handy dandy table with all the temperatures I use ... it's in the latest update of my cookbook. Here you go...
IS IT DONE?
These are the final temperatures that you want; remove from heat 5°F lower than desired temperature as the temperature will come up as it rests. And if there is a tiny cold spot, it will warm up even more as the heat will continue to distribute.
Beef / Lamb: Rare 120 – 130 °F (49-54°C)
Roasts, steaks, Medium Rare 130 – 135 °F (54-57°C)
Chops Medium 135-145°F (57-63°C)
Medium Well 145-155 oF (63-68°C)
Pork: Medium 140 °F
Roast, chops Medium Well (USDA) 145 °F (63°C)
Pre-cooked ham Hot 140 °F (60°C)
Raw ham Done 160 °F (71°C)
Brisket, Ribs, Pork Butt Done 185 °F (85°C)
Hamburger, sausage Done (USDA) 160 °F (71°C)
Chicken/Turkey: UDSA 165 °F (74°C)
White meat Done 155 °F
Dark meat Done 165 °F (74°C)
Stuffing in bird Done 165 °F (74°C)
Dark meat Done 160°F +
Breast meat Medium - Rare 135°F
Fish: Fully cooked 140 °F
Halibut Medium 130 °F
Salmon Medium Rare 125 °F
Tuna (rare) Rare 115°F (or less)
Casseroles: 165 °F (74°C) - 175°F
Quiche 160°F (71°C) or higher depending on fillings
Hollandaise Sauce 145-150°F
Yogurt: Heat milk to 180°F for 2 minutes, cool to 110°F to add yogurt starter.
Bread and baked goods: Should also be appropriately brown on the outside
Rich Dough 190-200°F (88-93°C)
Lean Dough 200-210°F (93-99°C)
Water temp to add yeast 105-115°F (41-46°C)
Molten Chocolate Cake 160°F
Fruit Pies 175°F
Jam 217-222°F (103-106°C) Subtract 2°F for every 1000 feet of elevation
Thread 230-234°F (110-112°C) Syrup
Soft Ball 234-240°F (112-116°C) Fondant, Fudge & Pralines
Firm Ball 244-248°F (118-120°C) Caramels
Hard Ball 250-266°F (121-130°C) Divinity & Nougat
Soft Crack 270-290°F (132-143°C) Taffy
Hard Crack 300-310°F (149-154°C) Brittles, Lollipops & Hardtack
Caramel 320-350°F (160-177°C) Flan & Caramel Cages