(1) Cooking Temperatures. Meats must be cooked at the temperature prescribed in the
recipe. Meat cooked at a moderate temperature has less cooking loss, is juicier, and produces a
better-finished product than meat cooked at a higher temperature. Table 1 below presents ranges
of cooking temperatures.
250 275 F
300 325 F
350 375 F
400 425 F
450 475 F
500 524 F
Table 1-1. Cooking temperatures.
(2) Degrees of Doneness. The desired degree of doneness varies with the type of meat
cooked. Beef and lamb can be served rare, medium, or well done; veal can be medium to well
done; and pork must be well done. Fresh pork must be cooked to an internal temperature of 150
degrees to kill the organisms that cause trichinosis. The exact temperature to which you cook
pork will depend on the recipe card. Cook rare roast beef or rare beefsteak to an internal
temperature consistent with the schedule in TB MED 530. Consult TB MED 530 for additional
guidance in the preparation of rare roast beef. There are three methods of checking the degree of
(a) Meat Thermometer. Always use a thermometer, if available, to check the
internal temperature of the meat. Meat should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches
the temperature given in the recipe.
(b) Time-weight Ratio. If a thermometer is not available, doneness can be
determined by cooking the product at the prescribed temperature for a given number of minutes
for each pound of meat.
(c) Fork Test. Stick a steel fork into the center of the meat. Note the color of the
juices that come out of the meat. Red means the meat is rare, and pink means it is medium.
Brown means well done. Do not puncture the meat too much, or too much juice will be lost.
This test is acceptable but not recommended. It is best used along with the time-weight ratio-
(3) Seasoning. Some meats are seasoned before cooking, and others are seasoned
during the cooking process. Season all meats cooked by moist heat and meat dishes, such as
meat loaf and Salisbury steak (cooked with dry heat), before cooking. This allows the seasoning
to cook into the meat and improve the flavor of the finished product. Lightly season a roast
cooked by dry heat before you cook it. Never season meat to be grilled before you cook it
because salt tends to draw out the meat juices. When juices are drawn from the meat, the meat
must be overcooked to develop the color. When grilling or frying, season the browned side, then
cook the other side and season it.