When it comes to cooking, probably the most important attribute besides the ingredients is the cooking temperature. Next would be the time to cook at that temperature. Both of these make up the degree of doneness of the meal. Another attribute that is often missed is rest time. These all working together in harmony will result is a great tasting meal, second to none.
So, with that said, if you are to be successful cooking on your grill, you will need to understand HEAT. A lot of people just fire up their grill, pop some steaks on, and wonder why they come out dry like shoe leather and taste like burnt cardboard.
Heat comes in Low, Medium Low, Medium, Medium High and High. You may hear it called out in a recipe as “Medium heat”, “Medium fire”, “Medium flame” or “Medium heat intensity.” All these mean the same.
But how many degrees is medium heat on a grill? You can estimate the heat on a grill without a thermometer fairly easy with the following method. Hold your hand over the the coals just above the grate, without touching the grate and notice the time you can hold your hand over them. Start counting by saying something like “one thousand one or one thousand two…” Some people like saying “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” instead of “one thousand.” It really doesn’t matter whichever method of counting you use as long as it approximates a full second.
||250-275 degrees F||12+ seconds|
||300 degrees F||8-10 seconds|
||350 degrees F||6-7 seconds|
||400-450 degrees F||4-5 seconds|
||500-650 degrees F||1-2 seconds|
||650+ degrees F||Smoking Stub|
Minimum safe internal temperatures for meat
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says meats should be cooked to the following minimum internal temperatures. To get the temperature of a cut of meat, you should insert a thermometer at the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. I like using an
instant-read thermometer for this.
Though many recipes for smoking food call for maintaining grill temperatures as low as 200 degrees, the government says the temperature in smokers should be maintained between 250 degrees to 300 degrees.
Of course if you have tasted government food…
Sometime back, I was looking for a good cooking temperature chart and came across a site that, in my opinion, had a great chart for my purposes. So I downloaded the graphic and printed it out and placed it in my grilling notebook.
The temps listed are not what the USDA recommends as if you follow the USDA, you will be eating little black, dry, burnt meat slivers that look more like the soles of a shoe and not that expensive meat item you brought home from the store. However, if you want to use the USDA cooking temperatures, then add 10 to 15 degrees to the following chart.
- The “Remove” temperature listed is the target temperature to remove from the heat source.
- The “Ideal” temperature, is the ideal internal temperature after resting.
- Temperatures are all in Fahrenheit.