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Meat Temperatures 101: Getting It Just Right

Martha Stewart Living, November 2006

Calibrate: To ensure accuracy, calibrate your thermometer often. Stand it in ice water or boiling water; if it doesn't read 32 degrees or 212 degrees, respectively, adjust it. If the thermometer cannot be calibrated, note the difference when you cook.
Check Large Cuts: Always insert the thermometer into the densest portion; avoid hitting bone, as it may yield a false reading. For whole poultry, turn the bird so its neck cavity faces you, and insert thermometer through the thigh, near the socket.
Check Small Cuts: For steaks, chops, and the like, insert a thermometer through the side and into the middle.
Allow for Carryover Time: Meat continues to cook outside the oven, rising 5 to 10 degrees during a rest (see below), depending on size. But its doneness will not change. A roast beef, for example, cooked to a medium-rare 130 degrees per "Professional Kitchens" guidelines will rise several degrees but will still be medium-rare.
Let It Stand: Resting meat at room temperature before serving or carving is essential, as it lets juices, which concentrate in the center during cooking, redistribute. Let small cuts rest 5 minutes; medium cuts, 15 to 20 minutes; and large cuts, 30 minutes.