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With Burgers, What Does “Done” Mean?

  Will a hamburger that is supposed to be cooked medium to well done have any red in the center?

  In the cooking of beef, the designation "medium" is generally agreed to have a warm, pink — not red — center and an internal temperature of 140° to 145°. Rare leaves the center cool and red (120° to 125°); medium-rare is warm and red (130° to 135°); medium-well is warm with little or no pink (150° to 155°); and well-done is uniformly grey-brown throughout (160° to 165°).

Over a hot grill, under the broiler, or in a medium-hot frying pan, a one-inch-thick hamburger will take about three minutes per side to reach rare, four minutes to reach medium, and five to thirty-seven minutes to reach well done.

While we're on the subject, the US Department of Agriculture wants you to cook hamburger to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C). In other words, you are not to eat a hamburger that is not well done. Many people see no point in eating a hamburger that is well done. This is the definition of a conundrum.


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