Monday, March 28, 2011

The Essential Probe Thermometer


There are a few pieces of kitchen equipment that are truly game-changing.  Usually they are expensive, like food processors and stand mixers.  But, there are a few gems that are inexpensive.  A probe thermometer is one of them.


For about $20, you will be roasting meat like a pro.  No more overdone pork, dry chicken, or charred roasts.  Your probe thermometer will alert you when the meat has reached the optimal temperature and (here's the best part) the probe goes in the meat when you put it in the oven so you won't have to keep checking it--freeing you up to do other things.


The Thermoworks Model TW362B that I own was recommended by Cooks Illustrated in their January 2008 review of meat-probe thermometers.  To use it, set the desired temperature on the keypad, place the probe in the thickest part of the meat (making sure that it is not touching a bone or the edge of the pan) and close the oven door on the wire that extends from the probe to the keypad.  The only tricky thing is that there is a switch for the power and a separate switch for the alert (beeper).  If you forget to turn on that second switch, it won't beep at the target temperature, putting you right back into charred-roast land.

The thermometer comes with a handy plastic cheat sheet with a table showing the optimal temperatures for each type of cooked meat.  One more handy tip: let the roast rest under a tent of foil after you remove it from the oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.  This will ensure juicier meat.

The temperature of the meat will rise about five more degrees while it rests, so factor that in when setting the thermometer.  (For example, for chicken, I set the thermometer for 160 degrees, and after it rests it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)

Now you're cooking like a pro!

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