Traditionally home cooks have relied on a combination of the oven temperature, weight of the meat and time variables as a guide to cooking their meat to the way they like (med rare etc). Recipe books usually just say something like "roast in a 180°C degree oven for 25 minutes per 500g plus an extra 20 minutes" or something similar.
I don't like this unreliable approach (anymore). I am suggesting that you abandon this way of thinking, and not rely on this outdated method at all - all you need for success EVERY TIME with roasting beef is to buy an easy to use and affordable meat probe thermometer and read the rest of my blog post...
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So, join me and change to an internal temperature checking method when you roast beef.
Simply put, you want the meat to reach the following internal temperatures irrespective of how long it takes to reach that temp, or how much the meat weighs:
- Rare - 50°C;
- Medium rare - 55°C;
- Medium - 60°C;
- Medium well - 65°C;
- Well done - 70°C
Meat will continue to cook immediately after you remove it from the oven, so take it out 5°C LOWER that your final intended temp.
You can cook the meat low and slow, you can cook the meat high and fast but the internal temperature is your aim. There are different process and result for slow low cooking as apposed to high fast cooking, so you must choose a method that suits your cut of beef and your preference (see beliw for more on the low slow, or my friend Trevor’s preferred method, “The Reverse Sear”)
Thermometers are affordable and most useful not only for cooking beef accurately, but also for other culinary conundrums:
- the "done-ness" of chicken, which should be 75°C when probed into the thickest part of the meat between the thigh and drumstick - Don't let the probe touch the bone though or you will get a false reading.
- perfect water temperature for activating yeast, which should be 38°C - 40°C for fresh yeast; 40°C - 43°C for active dried yeast
- Testing oil temp for frying
- Testing sugar temp for caramelising
Thermometers come in different shapes and sizes, and ways of working. We are talking PROBE thermometers here (as opposed to freestanding ones that go in the oven). It must have a probe to stick in the meat. My two favourites are:
- A handheld portable probe thermometer (pic on left below). This is a great and affordable way to start with probing. Don't worry that it says "suitable for use with bakery and dairy products," that is just for colour coding in kitchens to avoid cross-contamination. I have verified this with the supplier as well just to double check. You can buy in a few colours, though others are more pricey so no point paying more just for another colour.
- A leave-in thermometer (pic on right below). This works that you stick the probe into the meat and put in the oven. There is a heat resistant cable that runs from the probe to the reader which can be attached to the oven door for easy reading (magnetised). The cool things here are that you can preset the temp you want; you can set an alarm to notify you when it reached temp; you don't have to keep thinking "should I probe now?" AND you don't have to remove the tray from the oven to probe and return it etc. This takes all the guesswork away.
The two below are available from https://www.nisbets.co.uk/ but there are other brands available elsewhere online and at kitchen shops. ThermoWorks have an excellent range, but pricier.