Above the meat’s center, “The Stall” -- that strange moment when meat actually drops in temperature and refuses to rise -- often begins at this point, contingent on air flow and humidity. There were various theories on why this happened, but it was Prof. Greg Blonder -- the scientist in residence at AmazingRibs.com -- who proved it was cooling caused by evaporation.
A lot of BBQers fear the stall, but wise pit masters welcome it; it’s crucial to the formation of bark: that crunchy, chewy, crispy goodness that sheaths the melty, jiggly meat. More on that in a moment.
Collagen begins to denature into delicious gelatin (Meathead says he observes it starting at 160º F). Sploosh! What was once an inedible chewtoy is now one of the most flavorful parts of the beast
Steak goes from medium well to well done. Unless you work for the USDA, who think you're still in medium rare country.
Bacteria die in 30 seconds or less here. But better give it two minutes for poultry.
Beef and sheep are pasteurized instantly. But for the love of that animal’s sacrifice, don’t cook your meat this high. That’s medium well. You’re way better off cooking it at a lower temp for a longer time if you can do so without dehydrating it. Even the Dept. of Health & Human Services says it’s okay to eat whole cuts of red meat once their interior is cooked to 145º F and held there three minutes.
Burger is pasteurized. Ground meat is way more likely to carry pathogens than whole muscle, because the outside surface, where bugs live, becomes mingled with the inside and free to wander.
Your steak is finally medium, says the USDA, who are trying to keep you alive and bless them for that, but that is some tough meat according to everybody trying to eat it.
According to the government, well-done steak is pulled off the grill and served to you philistines, probably with ketchup.
Chicken and other poultry are instantly pasteurized. You can cook to this temp without ruining the meat, but much higher and Meathead warns “you’ll be eating cardboard.” Instead, try out his high/low heat zone method. “You don’t wanna go higher than 165º F, otherwise it’ll dry it out,” he explains. “But let’s say you’re going for 160º F -- if you start it on the indirect side and gently warm it, and bring it up to say, 150º/155º F, you’re still at a risky temperature, and your skin is still soft and rubbery.
“But if you then put it over direct radiant heat -- move it from the indirect side to the direct side -- now you can really crisp that skin, render the fat, and pull it off with really good crispy skin that is not burned.”