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What is the internal temperature a steak should be cooked to for Rare/Medium Rare/Medium/Well?

I know that whenever you look at cookbooks they give you the recommended cooking temperatures for doneness in meats based on the USDA food safety guidelines. However, I been to certain restaurants where food has been cooked just slightly below those temperatures...essentially more on the rare side.

So what is the real safe temperatures for the meats that we eat? I.e. not thinking about any legal implications, what temperature would chefs cook their meat to? I'm trying to discern the difference, if any, between gastronomical and governmental standards.

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marked as duplicate by Aaronut Jan 16 '12 at 20:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
See also this question on beef. I assume you are not looking for alternate advice on chicken. –  justkt Jan 16 '12 at 13:12
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Going to be charitable and call this a duplicate... please don't directly ask us to provide food safety guidelines that directly contradict federal regulations. The "real" safe temperature is exactly what the USDA says it is. Restaurants are only allowed to cook to a lower temperature when specifically requested by the customer - at that point the customer assumes any liability for the consequences. –  Aaronut Jan 16 '12 at 20:38
    
@Aaronut. I don't think it's a duplicate. I'm asking about meat in general and not just beef. For some reason, most people assume meat means beef because all the answers have been about beef. :) I've seen on TV and also have read in cookbooks mentions of not having to cook to USDA standards. I want to the community to provide some answers and hopefully once answered it would serve as documentation that slightly lower temperatures are ok. I've been to Chinese restaurants where the chef likes to cook the chicken so that it is ever so slightly pink. I want to know if this is ok. –  milesmeow Jan 16 '12 at 21:32
    
The colour has nothing to do with the internal temperature. Aside from that, the question is not appropriate. If you don't want to follow the USDA guidelines in your own home, that's fine, you're welcome to take the risk, plenty of people do and they're still alive. We are not going to officially sanction it by providing an alternative set of "real" temperatures that could potentially cause some future visitor to get food poisoning. It's getting really tiresome seeing one question after another asking for permission to ignore the guidelines; either follow them or don't. –  Aaronut Jan 17 '12 at 2:57
    
The one exception to this rule is sous-vide cooking which is distinguished by very precise control over the temperature and a much longer cooking time than pan-frying/oven-baking/etc. If you're interested in temperatures for sous-vide, go ahead and ask that, but be aware that those temperatures are not appropriate for any other cooking method. –  Aaronut Jan 17 '12 at 2:59

1 Answer 1

This is purely personal preference, this is no magic number

Some people like it very blue, some like it grey. Some like it cooked it a very hot pan, some people like it simmered or steamed. Cook what you like

If you are going to have raw, or rare meat cooked at below your local governments recommendations, you should know the quality of the meat, or be involved in it's preparation (Zuckerberg style)

Very rare steak

This is my wife's ideal steak. From the farm, grass feed young beef. Sirloin cooked plain in a hot cast iron pan for 30 seconds a side

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That steak looks delicious! (I think I'm gonna cook one up for dinner) Regarding my question, I guess I should update it to indicate that I'm looking for the real safe temperature for meats. –  milesmeow Jan 16 '12 at 19:10
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@milesmeow The question is unanswerable then. The USDA temperatures are calculated so that there is maximally 1 in X chance of getting food poisoning in the wost case. You can say that you feel safe with a much smaller X, but this would be a personal preference different from the legal definition of "safe". –  rumtscho Jan 16 '12 at 19:29

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