How to tell when meat is ready or 'done'

How to tell when meat is ready or 'done'

Is it ready yet? Not sure? Here’s how to tell when meat is ready or “done”. There are many variables involved when cooking meat and determining its degree of doneness (rare, medium, well done etc). Variables can relate to the meat itself (cut, size, shape, thickness), the temperature of the meat before it was cooked or other elements such as the accuracy of the oven, the shape and type of roasting dish, whether it is cooked in a barbecue or pan, what the pan is made from and more.

Don’t be daunted though, following our simple advise should give you the confidence you need to take all of those variables head on. These tips can used together or independently to help you judge if the meat you’re cooking is ready to serve.

CUTS and WEIGHTS
You can use cuts, weights and temperatures to guide you towards the cooking time…

Use these recommendations as a guide at the start of the cooking time. 

ROASTING CHART – times per 500g

BEEF

 

Temp

Rare

60ºC

Medium

65-70ºC

Well Done

75ºC

Rib eye/scotch fillet, rump, sirloin, fillet, standing rib roast, rolled rib beef roast

200ºC

15 -20 min

20 -25 min

25 -30 min

Silverside, blade, round, topside, eye round, oyster blade 

160ºC

20 -25 min

25 -30 min

30 -35 min

LAMB

 

Temp

Rare

Medium

Well Done

Eye of loin/backstrap, lamb round, topside roasts, mini roast, lamb rump

220ºC 

15-20 mins

20-25 min

25-30 min

Rack of lamb, four rib roast, crown roast

200ºC

20-25 min

30-35 min

40-45 min

Loin (boned and rolled), Leg or shoulder (bone in), easy carve leg or shoulder   

180ºC

20-25 min

25-30 min

30-35 min

VEAL

 

Temp

Rare

Medium

Well Done

Fillet, rack, leg, loin/eye of loin, rump, shoulder, boned and rolled loin, breast

200ºC

15-20 min

20-25 min

25-30 min

 

MEAT THERMOMETERS

To take out all the guesswork, particularly when cooking roasts use a meat thermometer

It is the easiest and most accurate way to determine the degree of doneness. The degree of doneness for both large and small cuts of meat is always measured at the very centre of the cut.

  • With a roast - place the thermometer in the roast before cooking. The end of the thermometer should be inserted into thickest part of the roast away from any bone and rest half way into the thickness of the meat.
  • With steaks (or smaller cuts of meat) – as with the roast, the end of the thermometer should be inserted into thickest part of the roast away from any bone and rest half way into the thickness of the meat. As steaks are thin in comparison with roasting cuts, be careful not to put the thermometer right through the steak and onto the hot cooking surface…or your rare lamb cutlet may well read as overly well done.

Most thermometers will have temperature indicators on their face, but the internals temperatures for beef, lamb, veal and goat should be as follows:

  • Rare 60ºC
  • Medium rare 60-65ºC
  • Medium 65-70ºC 
  • Medium well done 70ºC 
  • Well done 75ºC

For further information on meat thermometers go to the ‘How to use a meat thermometer’ [link] page.

TOUCH TEST

Towards the end of the estimated cooking time you can also test the doneness of your meat by judging with the ‘touch test’ method.

Press the outside centre of the meat lightly with tongs or your (well washed) pointer finger. If it feels soft it’s in the rare range, if it feels springy it’s medium. Any firmer to touch and its on its way to well done. 

For some great tips on perfecting this technique go to: link to ‘How to tell when your beef steak is done page

All meat should rest before serving

If given the time to rest the meat will loose less juice when you cut it and when you eat it the meat will be juicier and tastier. The time taken to rest will depend on its size, a roast is best rested for 10 to 20 minutes before craving. Steaks or chops should stand for about 5 minutes (at least 3) before serving.

Consider the residual heat

It is important to note that while the meat rests the residual heat continues to raise the internal core temperature of the meat.

It’s a good practice to check the temperature and take the roast or steaks from the oven or barbecue just shy of the degree of doneness goal (about 3ºC to 6ºC short of the goal temperature). The resting time then allows the roast or steak to complete its cooking whilst the return to the meat fibres.

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