Anyone who has cooked anything from a recipe knows that generally you are given an oven temperature and a time to cook. Where BBQ cooking differs is that it also calls for you to check internal temperature, which is arguably more important.
Why Most Recipes Don’t Discuss Internal Temperature
Generally recipes are very specific in their requirements – they call for a certain weight of protein and a certain length of cooking time.
The reason they don’t talk about internal temperature is because it’s been generally taken into account already. Over the long history of cooking, time / weight ratios have been perfected that result in meat being cooked as it should.
Internal Temperature Will Tell You When It’s Done
The heat of the vessel you cook in is important. You need to create a consistently hot enough environment for the connective tissue to render correctly and generate the tenderness. If the meat cooks too quickly, then these connective tissues go the opposite way. To read more about the science of it, Amazing Ribs has a fantastic article here.
While the long process will create the tenderness, the meat still needs to be at the correct temperature for it to be actually cooked. This can take different amounts of time depending on cut, thickness, amount of fat within it and other factors.
Grab Yourself a Pen
For the purposes of checking internal temperature, a probe thermometer is a must, and digital if you can. You want to insert it into the thickest part of the meat, and not on a bone, If you have a bone in cut, it will either be hotter or colder than the thickest part of the meat.
This will give you the most accurate measure of how done your meat is, regardless of time.