The correct beef cooking times will become second nature to you as you advance on your path toward becoming a gourmet cook. I am quite comfortable relying on the “touch” approach, and you will be too. But I recommend that you stick with a meat thermometer at first.
Chefs generally gauge beef cooking times by gently punching the meat with their fingers to check the temperature and know when it’s ready to eat. Yes, it takes a little experience. Start touching every piece of meat you cook and grill to start getting the hang of it. I touch the meat and also use either an instant read thermometer or probe thermometer just to double check.
Touch Technique Used by Chefs
1. Touch Your Cheek – That will be “rare”. The internal temperature of the steak will be between 110 – 120 F. and it will have a cool red center.
2. Touch Your Chin – This is “medium rare”. The internal temperature of the steak will be between 120 – 130F. and it will have a warm red center.
3. Touch the End of Your Nose – This is the texture of a “medium” steak. The internal temperature of the steak will be between 140 – 145F. and it will have a hot pink center.
4. Touch the Area Just Above the Bridge of Your Nose on Your Forehead – This is equivalent to a “medium well” piece of meat. The internal temperature of the steak is between 155 – 160 F. and it has just a thin line of hot pinkness still left in the center.
5. Touch the Bottom of Your Shoe – This is well done. The internal temperature is 180 degrees. There is virtually no pink. However, even though a piece of meat is well done there should be some juices left.
BBQ Griller Technique
130 F = Very Rare – Red Cool Center – Check to see if it’s still kicking
140 F = Rare – Red Center – Still not done enough for most
145-150 F = Medium Rare – Red/Pink Center – Now you’re talkin’
155-160 F = Medium Well – Pink Center – Temperature of choice for most
165 F = Well Done – Light Grey Center – Might be a little taste left
170-180 F = CHARRED BEYOND RECOGNITION!!!
As you can see, beef cooking times and temperatures vary a little. It will take a few times cooking meat to get it exactly to the temperature of your choice.
To get an accurate reading from your instant read thermometer, always push it into the thickest part of the meat and wait for 15-20 seconds, near the end of the suggested beef cooking time.
And remember, meat keeps cooking after you take it off the grill or out of the oven, so remove when it’s 5 degrees below desired temperature. Never cut into meat with a knife to check its doneness, it releases all the juices all over the plate. Let stand 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Getting it right with regard to beef cooking times is essentially the whole ballgame. Fortunately, this is not hard to learn. I promise you, with a little practice you will pick it up in no time.