Core temperature guide and the importance of cooking to temperature, not time…
When cooking over fire, all timings should be taken with a pinch of salt. Cooking to temperature and not time is possibly one of the most basic, yet most important skills you can learn whilst on your fire cooking journey.
Every fire you light will behave differently and there are many factors to consider which will alter how your fire performs. This becomes even more apparent, when cooking in a fire bowl. A kettle bbq or enclosed pit will be less affected, but will still differ from cook to cook.
Many things will affect how your fire performs and even the smallest change can create a big difference. Wind, heat, rain, air pressure, moisture and temperature can all play a part in changing the temperament of the fire.
Lots of recipes will give cooking directions governed by time, however I implore you to use an instant read thermometer. This will allow you to check the core temperature of what you are cooking as it cooks – removing any guess work. This will give you 100% accurate results, time and time again.
Using an instant read thermometer when you are cooking over the fire will prevent your food from becoming overcooked and drying out. It will also help you to hit that vital core temperature, reducing the risk of food poisoning when cooking or reheating food (especially important with poultry). We use a Thermapen to check the core temperatures when cooking regardless of whether it is over fire or in the oven. The Thermapen professional is waterproof and is super accurate making it our daily go to. When smoking and heat retention is key we use a Bluedot BBQ bluetooth thermometer, this allows you to track the progress of your cook without lifting lid. Locking in the heat and keeping the temperature consistent through out your cook.
So what core temperatures should I be looking for?
The core temperature that we need to reach for each ingredient, depends on the animal, cut or joint you are cooking. Cooking technique will also play a part in the core temperature you want to hit, which we cover in more detail below. Make sure to rest your meat well, this allows the muscle to relax and the residual heat to discipate through the meat, giving us a nice even cook.
When taking your temperature reading, always ensure you’re taking it from the centre of the joint/piece. With smaller pieces of meat (such as steaks or sausages), you’ll need to insert the temperature probe just a few millimetres in- so you don’t go straight out the other side!
When cooking steaks, thicker steaks should always be finished indirectly on the coolest part of grill to allow the heat to penetrate through to the centre. it’s critical to rest meat well before serving.
Rare – 50℃
Medium Rare – 55-57℃
Medium – 58-60℃
Well Done – + 65℃
Burgers – 71℃
Brisket – 85-90℃
Short Ribs – 90℃
Whole Sirloins and Rib-Eye – 57-60℃ for perfectly blushing meat.
Venison is much leaner than beef so care should be taken when cooking steaks.
Slow cooked or smoked venison should include a braise half way through to stop the meat from drying out. Simply transfer the smoked meat into a roasting tray with some stock or beer. Cover tightly and place back into the smoker to carry on cooking.
Shoulder | Butterflied and grilled – 55-60℃
Shoulder | Smoked or Slow Cooked – 85- 90℃ (shreddable meat)
Steaks and quick cooks – as per above beef guide
Whole Venison Asado – 65-70℃
It’s super important that all poultry is cooked through to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Once well rested, the final temperature of both the whole bird or the breast meat should hit 75℃.
Whole Birds / Bone-In Thighs – 74℃
Don’t forget your wet or dry brines, especially for whole birds.
If cooking indirectly, make sure to finish over a high heat to render and crisp up the fat.
Breasts – 52-56℃
Legs – 80-85.C (shreddable meat)
Whole Duck / Goose – 73℃
It’s perfectly fine to eat pork cooked to medium, providing you buy good quality pork. Anything under medium will likely have a chewy texture.
Medium – 60℃
Well Done – 70℃
Sausages – 71℃
Shoulder – 85-90℃
Belly – 90℃
Gammon – 65℃
Porchetta/Loin – 85℃
Whole Hog Asado or Pit – 93℃
Leg – 55-60℃
Shoulder | Butterflied and Grilled – 55-60℃
Shoulder | Smoked or Slow Cooked 85-90℃ (shreddable meat)
Rack – 55-60℃
Steaks and Quick Cooks – as per beef guide
Whole Lamb Asado – 65-70℃
Fillets – 60℃
Whole Fish – 63℃