Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
Just to clarify: is your question about food safety, or about the proper timing for grilling a steak to medium?
If you're worried about e.coli, you would need to cook the meat quite well. I wouldn't even take the risk with that though, we got rid of all our beef - we live in Calgary, Alberta, 3 hours away from XL foods, the tainted plant... so we won't be taking any chances!
Pregnant women should always have their meat cooked well, also (I never liked to, however. I live life on the wild side) & lastly, If you're concerned about carcinogenic char, using propane is much better than using charcoal.
Merrillit's really about both safety and proper timing. Any suggestions?
I grill on a propane grill several nights a week year round. A 3/4 inch to 1 inch sirloin strip steak over high heat 5 to 7 minutes, turning halfway through to be medium rare. Another minute or two to make it medium. I am not physically or emotionally capable of cooking them well done. :)
HalfPint is a trusted home cook.
If you are cooking a whole piece of meat, like a steak, the chances of getting E. Coli is very very small. This is because the steak is a dense muscle that bacteria cannot easily penetrate. Most bacteria would be on any exposed surface that would then be subjected to direct heat that is definitely higher than 160F (which appears to be the cooking temperature to kill any bacteria). So you can have your steak rare (basically seared on the outside) and not worry too much.
Ground meats however is where you want to make sure that you do cook it to well done. The chances for contamination are the highest when meat gets ground. The grinding process exponentially increases the surface that is exposed to bacteria and the chances of cross contamination is really high. Because of this my hamburger is alway well-done whether I'm cooking it at home or ordering it at a restaurant.
I love cooking with propane and my trusty Weber can get as hot as 550F when it's going full-throttle. So heat source is not something to worry about unless it is a weak heat source.
I'm assuming that you are consuming meat from a trusted supplier. For stuff that is going to served rare, I pay the extra money and get it from the higher end markets that have a real butcher counter and high inventory turnover.
(1) Use a digital thermometer. There are too many variables to go by time alone. Beef is considered medium between 135F and 145F. Try pulling 5 degrees (F) before your target temp.
Rest thick steaks 15-20 min., tented or in a warm spot, thin ones 10 min.
Meat is dense and retains heat well. Don't worry about it cooling down too much during resting.
(2) Any bacterial contamination will almost certainly be constrained to the outer surface of a steak and will reach pasteurization temperatures long before the center is done. Ground meat is a different matter.
(3) Above all, avoid cross-contamination from raw meat juices.
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