Yeah baby, ooh, let me stick my meat thermometer deep inside you. You like that don’t you? Oooooh yeah, you’re so hot and juicy. Oh God, can you feel it? Oh baby, uh-huh, oh, OH! OH! OOHH! AAARGH!
Now that that’s out of the way you’re both probably getting a little hungry and rather than risk food poisoning or having your repast ruined by being under or overdone, you might want to consider using another type of meat thermometer to ensure your appetites are sated and that nobody gets sick along the way.
Basically, your average run of the mill meat thermometer can help you prevent three things that can ruin either an entire meal or an entire week (if you get my drift). First of all it can prevent any food borne illnesses from invading your digestive system by ensuring that the food you are about to consume has been cooked to a proper temperature to kill of the nasty types of bacteria just lying in wait to destroy you. Secondly, it can let you know at what range the temperature of a given food is between the time it’s considered rare to the time it’s considered well done. Last but not least, this handy gizmo will tell you how long a food can be held at a safe temperature before you should plop it back in the stove or the microwave.
These days, meat thermometers come in all sizes and shapes. The vast majority of us are probably most familiar with the pop-up types normally sold on your Butterball turkey around Thanksgiving. The manufacturers of these claim that they are accurate to within a degree (Fahrenheit) or two but I wouldn’t place too much trust in them myself.
Just to be on the safe side, I have an oven proof one on hand that I insert inside my cut of meat or poultry before sticking it in the oven. Some of these now come with a wire attached so that the actual face of the thermometer doesn’t have to go in the oven and you can read the internal temperature of the food without having to open the oven door. I’m still the old fashioned type though and use one that requires me to open up the oven and let the aroma drift through the house.
For you more fancy types, they now have meat thermometers that can give you an almost instant read out just by inserting it into the food for as little as a few seconds. These usually provide you with a digital read out and should not be left inside the oven since they have a tendency to melt. There are others now on the market that will buzz or make some other kind of noise once the food has reached the desired temperature.
Naturally all cooking times will vary based on the cut/size/type of food your working with and oven temperature.
Location location, location
I’m not here to judge and where you should eventually put your meat thermometer is entirely up to you. Most experts agree though that for poultry, it should be placed in the inner thigh nearest to the breast without touching the bone. For other cuts of meat such as ham, pork beef and veal it should be placed in the thickest portion depending on the cut.
I’m sure this info is probably tucked away somewhere else here at E2 but here’s the minimum cooking temperature for various cuts of meat and poultry in order to kill any bacteria or any other shit that might be lurking inside. Note: All numbers are in Fahrenheit because I’m one of those lazy Americans who’s not smart enough to convert them to Celsius.
Any ground meats such as beef, lamb, veal or pork should be cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees.
For such cuts such as chops and roasts, 145 degrees will get you to my personal favorite, medium rare. 160 degrees will bring them up to medium and 170 degrees and above will get you to well done.
If you’re cooking a ham from scratch, bring it up to 160 degrees. If you’re re-heating one that’s been already cooked, 140 degrees will do.
If the bird is the word, a whole chicken or turkey should be cooked to 180 degrees. If you’re just doing some breasts or a roast, you can bring that down to 170. I don’t eat ground chicken or turkey so for them you’re on your own.