Over the years I have cooked many roasts and whole poultry. Through trial and error I have learned how to cook my roasts to my liking. There is not really a standard for all types of meat. I like beef, lamb and venison cooked to about 140 degrees, pork tenderloin to 145 degrees and poultry cooked to 165 degrees. These cooking temperatures are my preferences. If you are cooking for people with a preference for medium or well done, serve them the outer portions of the roast.
Cooking Chart for meat Click Here
How do you like your meat cooked; well done, medium, medium rare, rare or bleu? It’s all about what you like. The texture and tenderness of meat is directly affected by the internal temperature and method of cooking. High heat cooks the external layers of meat quickly leaving the internal temperature cooler. Low heat brings the entire temperature of the roast up more evenly and helps to retain the juices of the roast. When we cook with high heat the roasts will expel their juices at a higher rate. I have found that larger roasts cook much better at lower temperatures. The low and slow method does have it’s drawbacks. For instance; a seven pound Prime Rib Roast cooked in a 200 degree oven can take up to 6 hours to bring the temperature of the roast to 140 degrees. Low and slow is an all day event, however, the roast that comes out of the oven is perfectly cooked retaining much of it’s juices. The longer meat is cooked, the tougher it becomes. When meat has reached well done it has become tough and not so tender. Cooking meat past well done will however start to break down connective tissues and collagen leaving the roast tender. Some roasts like beef chuck roast and larger pork roasts do well cooking past well done using the braising method. I love braised chuck roast with carrots and potatoes. Dutch ovens and crock pot’s are great for braising.
Poultry is a bit different! I like to cook poultry in a 325-350 degree oven depending on the size of the bird. I start my poultry back side up to cook the legs and thighs evenly with the breast side. About a third to half way of cooking I flip the bird to breast side up. If poultry is cooked past 165 degrees the meat will be quite tough and dry and you better have plenty of awesome gravy to make up for it! Stuffing a bird with dense dressing will lengthen the cooking times making it nearly impossible to cook the stuffing to a safe level without overcooking the breast meat. Stuffing the bird with modest amounts of onion, celery and carrots is okay.
Tip: Don’t get too caught up on cooking times for roasts, rely on a good meat thermometer!
How do we check for temperature?
Red Meat: insert thermometer in the center of the thickest part, away from bone, fat, and gristle.
Poultry: insert thermometer it in the thickest part of the breast away from the bone.
When the roast is done it will need to rest a bit depending on the size; I recommend from 15-25 minutes. Resting allows the meat to cool and let the juices retreat back into the fibers of the meat. If we carve a roast too soon; the juice will run out all over your carving board. We want the juices in the meat, not on our counter!
Cooking roasts may be my favorite way to cook. The house smells great with the anticipation of the coming meal while I wait for the moment the roast is done.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking roasts is; ” it’s done when it’s done, you can’t put a time on it”!