Roasting large joints of meat to the correct doness can be fairly difficult at times and once the roast too much done, there is no turning back anymore. The difficulty starts by getting people to agree on one uniform system. While in classical French cooking (and most of the European countries) only 4 degrees of doness (“blue”, “saignant”, “à point” and “bien cuit”) are used, in the rest of the world and certainly in English speaking countries we generally use five degrees of doness (rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well done). Some even order the meat by percentages e.g. from 25 % for rare, to 70%, 80% and obviously 100 % for well done. Whatever method one prefers, the easiest solution to avoid disappointment is to use a meat thermometer. I prefer this “scientific” approach much better than “poking” a meat fork into the meat and establishing the doness of the meat by trying to judge the cooking temperature by the color of the juice that sipped out of the whole where the fork was removed and/or the temperature of the needle held against the lower lip. This might be the “old fashion method” but it certainly works just as well especially when one is experienced in using this method.
- While one can leave the thermometer inside the joint/roast while roasting, this is not always advisable, especially when roasting meat on a BBQ grill, if you are basting with liquid or marinate.
- Stick your needle into the meat, so that the needlepoint reaches the middle of the thickest point of the roast. Depending on the type of thermometer used, ensure that you allow time for the needle to come up to the final reading.
- All joints should be well rested after roasting. This is done in a warm (below 60C or 140 F) place; 10–20 minutes depending on the size of the roast will be sufficient. This will help in equally distributing the juices throughout the meat and the meat will be equally done rather then very bloody on the inside and grey around the edge of the meat.
- In general the meat will “heat through” a bit during the resting period, one should calculate approximately 10% additional “cooking” during the resting period.
As a general guideline to determine how well the meat is cooked, follow these temperatures:
- Level / Temperature / Appearance of meat juice
- Very Rare / 45C (113F) / blood of meat will be cold
- Rare / 50C (122F) / deep red to purple, “bloody”
- Medium Rare / 55C (131F) / dark red
- Medium / 60C (140F) / pale red
- Medium Well / 65C (150F) / light red to pink, almost clear
- Well Done / 71C (160F) and above / clear, no blood visible
- All needle thermometers need to be “calibrated” every so often. This is done by dipping the needle into boiling water (the thermometer should now show 100 C or 212F) and then into ice water (the temperature reading should now be 0C or 32 F) and will ensure the thermometer is working correctly.