Have you ever eaten shoe leather? I have heard stories of the pioneers boiling the leather on their shoes hoping that it would sustain them until they could get real food to eat. They did live to tell the tale, but if you don’t have to eat shoe leather – don’t.
Some people eat a variation of shoe leather because they are afraid of undercooking the meat and getting sick. It is good to be cautious, but it is not good to punish yourself by eating tough, tasteless meat. A good thermometer is an inexpensive way to have peace of mind, stay healthy, and eat well. A thermometer can be used in the oven, on the stove, in the crock pot, while Dutch oven cooking, when grilling, barbequing, hole cooking (which is a lot of fun) or over the fire.
There are several different styles of thermometers and I would suggest that you buy one, or more, quality units in different styles for a variety of uses. There are the types that you can place the thermometer in the food while the item is cooking and have a unit that displays the temperature outside of the cooking area, there are the digital styles that give you immediate readings and I just saw one the other day that all you have to do is aim it at the food and it will give you an accurate reading.
It won’t help you to have a thermometer if you don’t know what temperature you should be looking for, so I went to the official USDA site (www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Use_a_Food_Thermometer/index.asp) to get the most accurate and safe information out there for you. Cut this out and hang it up where you can refer to it whenever you want to cook a delicious roast or fry up some chicken.
USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
- Steaks & Roasts – 145 °F
- Fish – 145 °F
- Pork – 160 °F
- Ground Beef – 160 °F
- Egg Dishes – 160 °F
- Chicken Breasts – 165 °F
- Whole Poultry – 165 °F
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160°F
Turkey, Chicken 165°F
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Medium Rare 145°F – Medium 160°F – Well Done 170°F
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165°F – Poultry breasts, roast 165°F – Poultry thighs, wings 165°F – Duck & Goose 165°F – Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165°F
Fresh Pork 160°F
Ham Fresh (raw) 160°F – Pre-cooked (to reheat) 140°F
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk & white are firm Egg dishes 160°F
Leftovers & Casseroles 165°F
*Remember – trust the temperature, not the color.
Just FYI, medium rare (my personal preference) usually tastes better than well done so if you ever invite me over to your house, just keep that in mind. Well done can be tasty IF it is not so well done that we are back to eating shoe leather and wishing for better times.