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Old 03-18-2011, 11:35 PM   #1
roadkill
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Join Date: 02-26-11
Location: Plano, Texas
Default finishing temp's ... grilling vs smoking vs USDA recommendations

Thought I would pull this question out of my thread on tough new york strip steak. It is a different topic altogether and deserves it's own thread.

For temperature, do you follow the USDA beef temperature guidelines ? I recall that sometime in the recent past (some years ago), the USDA bumped the temp's by 10 - 15 degrees across the board. I've tried following the USDA table using a polder thermometer and the meat invariably comes out overcooked and dry (whole chickens, etc).

Grilling seems to require different target temp's for when meat is considered done as compared to smoking meat. Example, a steak cooked to 185 degrees, would be a rock, but a brisket seems to be just getting tender at 185 degrees. Can you help clarify how I should interpret the target temp tables for both grilling and smoking chicken, pork, beef, etc ?
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:41 AM   #2
jimithing78
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Join Date: 06-11-09
Location: Plano, TX
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Brisket gets tender over time because you're rendering the fat inside it. When you're grilling the meat isn't on the grill long enough to render.

Regarding USDA temps I think it's important to differentiate the different meats. When you're cooking a solid chunk of beef the internal portions of that meat should be aseptic and it should be safe to cook it to whatever temp you want - assuming it was processed, handled and stored in a safe manner. Hamburger meat that you grind at home can be treated the same way but I won't order any hamburgers cooked less than medium when I eat at a restaurant because I don't know how well they take care of their hamburger meat.

With chicken my understanding is that salmonella is present in a very high percentage of the chicken population and it permeates the cells after the chicken dies. So the meat doesn't stay sterile on the inside like beef. Pork can actually be cooked medium I believe because the parasite that causes the problem dies at this temperature. I think it's 150ish. As long as you hit that for a few minutes it's supposed to be fine. I'm not one to take chances with intestinal parasites so I'll go medium well on pork.
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