Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeInto the Flames: Safe Eating Temperatures and when and when not to close the lid of the grill while cooking.

Before we begin, it’s important you have a good quality meat thermometer. We recommend the All-Clad Oven-Probe Thermometer #T223. It’s only $50 at williams-sonoma.com and it’s the cadillac of food thermometers. Easy to use, incredibly accurate, and just gorgeous, darling. It’s a must-have.

Okay, got it? Then, by all means, continue reading.

USDA Safe Minimum Temperatures in Fahrenheit

Chicken & Turkey
-Whole 165
-Parts 165
-Stuffed 165
-Ground 165

Beef & Lamb
-Rare 125 + 3 minute rest
-Medium rare 130-135
-Medium 135-140
-Medium well 145 + 3 minute rest
-Well done 155+
-Ground 160

Pork
-Medium rare 145 + 3 minute rest
-Medium 150
-Well done 160
-Ground 160

Food scientist Harold McGee explains “… meats inevitably harbor bacteria, and it takes temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to guarantee the rapid destruction of the bacteria that can cause human disease — temperatures at which meat is well-done and has lost much of its moisture. So is eating juicy, pink-red meat risky? Not if the cut is an intact piece of healthy muscle tissue, a steak or chop, and its surface has been thoroughly cooked: bacteria are on the meat surfaces, not inside.” He goes on further to explain, “Ground meats are riskier, because the contaminated meat surface is broken into small fragments and spread through the mass. The interior of a raw hamburger usually does contain bacteria, and is safest if cooked well done.”

Of course, cooking for the elderly, children under seven, and the immuno-compromised should always be a consideration as they may not be equipped to handle meat not cooked properly. We encourage you to follow the USDA guidelines to the letter to prevent bacteria exposure.

Now that we know the fundamentals of cooking meat, let’s touch on some of the basics of grilling. We won’t be discussing wood chips, special technique, or the like, but we will get down to the essentials. If you’re grilling a quick-cooking food like hamburger, flank steak, thin steaks, thin chops, shrimp, fish, or sliced vegetables directly over flame, then we recommend leaving your grill open. If it’s a thicker steak, bone-in chicken, whole roasts, etc. then we recommend cooking with the lid on, especially if you’re cooking over indirect heat. An uncovered grill yields a crusted char on the exterior of meat while not overcooking the center, while a closed lid will render meat done with more uniformity.

There you have it! The basics of the barbecue. Now grab those gleaming spatulas and let’s grill something!

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