The Science of Cooking

Temperature Probe picture


This is the most fascinating topic in the world of BBQ and outdoor cooking. Understanding the science of what is happening will make your cooking better and less stressful. The Science of cooking is varied and can be quite complex, particularly when it comes to baking, where the techniques are akin to alchemy.

Temperature is the easiest science to understand and to harness to your needs.

Luckily there are some great tools to help in harnessing temperature. Beef for example is rare at 40-45°C (104-113°F), Medium at 50-55°C 122-131°F), and Well done at 60-65°C 140-149°F), any more than 65°C (149°F) and you are just drying it out. This is fine for Prime cuts, but for US BBQ Low and Slow you are looking to convert the collagen in tougher cuts to gelatine and that requires getting the meat to higher temperatures, but that needs to be done slowly so you don’t tension the meat and loose all the juices.

Temperature is a great tool, once you understand it, you can make it work with you. And you’ll never serve chicken that’s pink on the bone again.

Roast a piece of beef till it is 35°C (95°F) internal temperature, take it out of the BBQ to rest and 20 minutes later (that’s enough time to cook the veg) the internal temperature will be 50°C (122°F). Now, that’s worth knowing!

There is a lot more to explore in the world of food science: How does a Brine or a Marinade work? What happens to the structure of meat as it cooks, How to Cure food? Preserving, Drying, Fermenting etc.

I’m not going into too much detail on this page, but your cooking will improve if you can increase your understanding of Cooking Science, and this is what we teach in BBQ School.