Degree of Doneness

As meat cooks, its pigments change color. These color changes indicate degrees of doneness.

Red meat (beef and lamb) changes from red to pink to gray or gray-brown.

• Rare: browned surface; thin layer of cooked (gray) meat; red interior

• Medium: thicker layer of gray; pink interior

• Well done: gray throughout

(Of course,there are stages in between.)

White meat (veal and pork) changes from pink or gray-pink to white or off-white. It is generally cooked well done, although many cuts of veal may be considered done when still slightly pink in the center.

As explained on page 23, trichinosis is a disease caused by a parasite that lives in the muscle tissue of hogs as well as of some wild animals. In countries in which this disease is a problem, pork must be cooked long enough to eliminate this danger.This parasite is killed at 137°F (58°C),but,to be safe,pork should be cooked to at least 150° to 155°F (66° to 68°C). At this stage,pork is only medium to medium-well done.Some people are happy to eat pork that is still pink in the center, but most people prefer it to be cooked slightly more than this. On the other hand, it is not necessary to cook pork to 185°F (85°C), as older guidelines said. At this temperature,pork is overcooked and dry. For diners who avoid any trace of pink in pork,perhaps the best doneness range is 160° to 170°F (71° to 77°C).

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