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Is there some kind of standard?

RVHRVH Posts: 523
edited 5:31PM in EggHead Forum
I have a growing collection of BBQ cookbooks that state cooking temps as "low, medium-low, medium, high, medium high, nuclear-high, high-low, southern-hemispherical-medium", etc. Is there some kind of basic standard for referenced cooking temps when no numerical value is given? Not a one of these books gives any indication. While this is not a problem when cooking most meats by themselves, cooking mixed-food dishes, a stew at "medium heat"for example, leaves me clueless. I asked my wife but she at first gave me a blank stare, than exclaimed " You have got to be kidding! You mean to tell me you have four eggs, six feet of books, every BBQ gadget known to man (not true), that Egghead forum, you now watch the Food Channel, and all those buddies that come over and hang out while you cook ribs, and you don't know what 'low' and 'medium' temps are? BAWAHAHAHA!"
Now in all fairness, beer drinking buddies become less and less reliable as a cook progresses. But that aside, the rest is sadly true.
I would be grateful for any help.


  • Well, if you're talking stews, it's going to get really tough. A cookbook that assumes you're cooking a stew on a stovetop doesn't have to consider how far your pot is from the flame...most stoves don't vary that much. But in the egg, there are lots of variables there. I'd judge it based on how the stew is behaving (is it simmering? is it bubbling TOO much? not enough?) and go from there.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,872
    each book may be different biased on the subject at hand. low and slow is 200 to 300. my first smoker had a gage that read low, ideal, high, and it was probabley between 200 and 300 degrees. roasting temps are 300 to 400 and high roasting can be up around 500 degrees. when doing stews in the egg look and adjust for the simmer, my setup is around 320
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,872
    should add a note about searing, since its prime rib season and prime ribs are really fatty, 500 is a good temp, dont go nuclear like one would do with a steak. searing a prime rib at high temps isnt a good thing :whistle:
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    Thanks for the reply, Ben. The stew temp was just an example. I guess what I really would like to know is, in general, what approx temp is considered to be: LOW
    regardless of the dish being cooked. I see these terms thrown out in cookbooks all the time with no definitions given.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,622
    I don't know of any specific reference. Sometimes context helps. With a stew, you will have items in fluid. I would then assume low heat means to just get the fluid simmering, about 180. Medium, a gentle boil, water all near 212. High, a rolling boil, water and stewing items all near 212, anything at the top getting brown. Way-t0o-High, boiling so fast that the meat and veggies are burning to the bottom of the pot. Etc.

    In general, I view low temperature as anything up to about 220. Medium, 220 - 370. High, 370 - 550. Way high 550+.

    But then again, most fresh dough pizza needs to start at way high, and is sometimes best done above 900. So, again, I guess describing the heat as low or high may often depend on what you arer trying to cook.
  • BigTBigT Posts: 385

    also google "low oven cooking engineers"


    Big T
  • The problem is that dome temp doesn't mean much when you're cooking direct. Size of the fire, and distance from fire to meat (or fire to pot, or fire to wok, etc) is much more important than the dome temp.

    For example, if you were making chili, you'd want to brown your meat and saute your aromatics first. If you were doing this on the stove, you'd do this over high heat, then add your liquids, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer. You COULD bring your dome temp way high to brown/saute, then shut the egg down to kill the fire and get it down so you can simmer, and put the pot back in. OR, you could do your browning and simmering over a small fire, but right down over the coals, add liquids and bring to a boil, then raise the pot up into the dome, away from the coals for the simmer...all over the same size fire, with the same dome temp. OR, you could saute down over the coals, then put the plate setter in and simmer indirect.

    As gdenby said, it's all dependent on what you're cooking. So I'm afraid there realy isn't a standard. But practice, and you'll get the feel of it pretty quickly. Just pay attention to the food as it's cooking and you'll be able to see if you need to boost or lower temps.

    Also, when you DO have a specific recipe you'd like to cook, and aren't sure the best way to convert it to the egg, just post it here. You'll get plenty of help, and with specifics about what you're cooking will allow the friendly experts here to give more tailor-fit responses.
  • lots of early recipes say stuff like "on a lazy fire" hahaha

    look at it this way... everyone's "lo" is going to be say 250 (maybe 225). and "hi" is going to top out around 500 in most ovens. rarely is there a recipe baked or roasted at 600, right?

    and so, medium is dead between 250 and 500, or 375.

    it's like a gas pedal. there aren't any settings from car to car, but we all sort of agree on what "slow" and "fast" and "holy cr^p" are. :laugh:
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    Good advise from you all, along with good websites. I think I will tackle a chili first. I plan for it to look like the image Grandpas Grub posts from time to time of one of his chili cooks. It sure looks tasty. It's time for me to step up my game a bit from just seasoned meats done low-and-slow.
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    Thanks Jeff. Actually I didn't know that ovens top out at 500°, making that the "high" benchmark. Makes sense to me. My sole experience with cooking in an oven was Ore-Ida french fries and frozen pizzas when I was a kid.
    If you think everyone knows what "fast" and "oh-crap" speed-wise is, then I'm sure you have never had to work traffic control on a state highway. You wouldn't believe some of these people. :woohoo: :woohoo:

    P.S. the pumpkin you did this year: incredible!
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    How hot is holy cr^p?
  • it isn't that they top out at 500, so much as, most folks and recipes aren't going that high (or much beyond that).

    just because the egg can cruise at 800, doesn't mean we should necessarily use 800 as our "high" temp when working from gandma's recipes. if i asked my mom what "hi" was, she'd prob'ly say 450.
  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    I agree. Before becoming an Egger, I viewed 450 as high or even very high. I even cooked my first few Egged steaks and pizzas at 400ish becuase I didn't know an better and was a little intimidated by 500plus. Now I regularly go above 600. The Egg has changed the definition of "High" for me.
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