Could you cook meat at an oven temperature of 160 degrees?  I’d guess most people would say no. Or they might wonder if the food would be safe to eat. After all, human beings are able to still function at temperatures of 120 degrees or more, say in the desert, so 160 degrees isn’t too far from that number.

On the other hand, if you note the correct internal temperature of most cooked meats, it’s somewhere around 160 degrees, depending on the level of sanguinity that you prefer. On my meat thermometer, 160 degrees denotes the internal temperature for medium-done beef.

Interestingly enough, it’s a law of Physics that at a given ambient (room) temperature, over time, all things in the room will equilibrate to that temperature. In other words, put a cold stone in a hot room and if you keep the temperature of the room constant, over time the stone’s internal temperature will match that of the room.

The same principle applies here. Remember the stories of people falling asleep in their hot-tubs and being found the next morning “cooked”, despite the fact that the temperature of the hot-tub wasn’t raised beyond the normal 104-110 degree range? That’s because living mammal bodies regulate their internal temperature through a variety of mechanisms such as sweating, salt retention, and drinking water. Fall asleep in a hot-tub though, and over time your body’s ability to regulate its temperature will fail, especially beyond 104 degrees, and you will die. At that point you begin to equilibrate with the temperature of the water, eventually getting cooked.

So the answer is, yes, you can fully cook meat at an oven temperature of 160 degrees if you wait long enough. The meat might be pretty dry by then….unless you keep basting it with a good BBQ or other sauce. And of course this is the principle of “Low ‘n Slow” BBQ-ing…sometimes even leaving the meat overnight at a low temperature, occasionally getting up to baste it.

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