When it comes to testing recipes in the Chatelaine Kitchen, it’s all about precision. I’ve learned that the most reliable way to cook meat, poultry and fish is to check doneness using an instant-read thermometer. Not only are you able to be 100 per cent certain that the food is cooked through, but by checking the temperature, you’re able to cook your favourite cuts of meat or fish perfectly every single time.
There are a few tricks to remember for using a digital instant-read thermometer: Firstly, to get an accurate reading, remove your food from the heat source before inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, poultry or fish (avoid the bone, or the temperature reading will not be accurate). If you have multiple pieces of meat, poultry or fish, check each of them individually. Once you’ve taken accurate readings, be sure to clean your thermometer with hot soapy water.
It’s important to note that safe internal cooking temperatures vary for different types of foods; here are safe cooking temperatures for commonly used meat, poultry and fish.
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts):
Make sure the meat reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145F (for medium-rare), 160F for medium and 170F for well done.
All cuts of pork (including ham, pork loin and ribs) should reach an internal temperature of 160F.
Pieces of poultry (chicken breasts, turkey breasts, duck etc.) should reach an internal temperature of 165F, while whole birds should reach an internal temperature of 185F.
Fish needs to reach an internal temperature of 158F to be safe to eat.
When checking the temperature of burgers, insert the digital thermometer through the side of the patty, all the way to the middle. For ground meat (beef, veal, lamb or pork) it should be 160F. For poultry, the internal temperature needs to reach 165F.