Do you want rare, medium, well done or charred meat?
As you can see, cooking by time creates more problems that it solves. Besides, some of these variables will change each time you cook and one set time to cook the food one day may not be right the next day. We seek consistency in our meals and we want you to know how good barbecue cooks prepare consistently good products.
LESSON NUMBER 6 - "When do I turn the meat?" - is a favorite question received by us. It usually varies depending upon what is being cooked and how hot the fire is. Our "catch all" answer is you turn the meat after the meat begins to turn color [usually browning occurs] and after the meat is released from the cooking grates [i.e. when it does not stick to the surface any longer]. Turning frequently does not hurt or harm the meat, however we try to obtain a good cooking on each side before turning it over.
LESSON NUMBER 7 - "When is the sucker done?" - Simple again . . . . it is a matter of relationships of temperature, heat and time. To get a handle on the internal meat temperatures and doneness, we strongly suggest visiting the Barbecue'n's Cooking Temperatures. We'll discuss "doneness" in more detail later on.
The common denominator to great outdoor cooking is to cook the food the same way every time. In order to obtain this consistency, we strongly recommend using a bi-therm instant read thermometer. These thermometers, when inserted into the meat, will determine the meat's internal temperature. No guess work, no under cooked chicken which can be dangerous to eat. As you can see from the thermometer to the left, they have a narrow probe that is inserted into the meat and after 10 to 15 seconds, can tell how far along the meat is done. ONLY in this manner will you really know if the meat is cooked to the desired doneness. One of these thermometers costs about $10 to $12 and will save hundreds of dollars in meat which might otherwise be ruined on the grill or in the pit.
One additional tip thrown in here dealing with when the meat is done . . . . always take the meat off just before the meat reaches it's doneness because it will continue to cook for several minutes after being removed from the grill and while the places are being taken at the table.
And for those of you who would like to estimate the doneness of the meat [with less consistency], we have another slight of hand trick for your use. Try pushing against the meat with a fork or spatula and check it's elasticity.
If the meat is very elastic and soft, the meat is probably between raw and rare. Next, if the meat is somewhat firm but maybe described as having a spring to its feel, it is probably equal to a medium doneness. Following this, if the meat is very firm yet still has some movement to it, the meat is medium-well to well done and needs to be removed from the grill before death and disaster take over. Finally, if the meat does not move and is rock hard firm, call in the mortician, it is dead. Although we must admit, some folks like 'em that way . . . . .
With us so far? . . . . . . . GREAT, then let's move on . . . . . .