It occurred to me today that it has been some time since I have posted a Technology Tuesday posting. And, well, today’s Tuesday, and I feel like talking about technology, so let’s do it!
The topic of today’s post is the Probe Thermometer. Before I go on, I will offer this piece of advice: If you do not have a probe thermometer and you are an omnivore, you NEED a probe thermometer. I will say right now (type…whatever) that it was the best $20 I spent on a kitchen tool, and it has paid for itself tenfold!
Anyway, a probe thermometer (henceforth will be abbreviated to “PT”) is a very simple tool. It is essentially a long, narrow spike that gets inserted into a piece of meat, and it is connected to a base via wire or cord. Despite its’ simplicity, it is innumerably helpful. Most standard models these days will present to you the current temperature of the item in question, and will also allow you to set an alarm when the meat reaches your desired temperature. This is where it has saved me money because since I have purchased my PT, I have yet to mess up a single roast that I cook. It’s not possible if you know the temperature in which to cook the meat. No more overcooked steak or roast beef. That right there has solidified it as one of my favorite tools.
The trick is to make sure the PT point is in the right spot in the meat. I’m sure most of you have used some sort of meat thermometer, but a lot of the cheaper ones on the market are analog display, they’re inaccurate, and they’re not designed to stay in the meat while it is cooking. This latter point is really important because, let’s say you’re cooking a roast beef. Halfway through cooking, you want to know what temperature it is, so you pull it out of the oven for a moment, take its temperature with an analog thermometer and put it back in the oven. You have just created a rupture in the meat, and precious juices from the inside will pressurize and flow out of that hole once it gets heated up again. This is bad. When using a PT, it stays in the meat the whole time, so the hole that gets created doesn’t open up, and in some cases, the meat kind of forms around it while cooking, creating an air-tight seal, and gets you an accurate reading.
Okay, but what about individual steaks or other cuts of meat, right? That’s easy too. In the case that you would be cooking, let’s say, four steaks, you would take the temperature of the thickest steak and cook accordingly. It stands to reason that if the largest cut is done, the smaller ones will certainly be done, too. Furthermore, when cooking beef like this, if you are cooking for people that want different donenesses, you can improvise based on the digital read-out of the largest steak and with practice, can get the temperature right for the smaller steaks for the pickier people.
Probe placement is also key (I am aware that that doesn’t sound all that great). If you are cooking a hunk of animal that has a bone in it, you want to avoid touching the bone with the probe. The bone gets a lot hotter then the meat, and it will throw off your readings. Ideally, you want to either aim for the thickest portion, or center mass. Many times, they will be the same, but I know on something like a chicken breast, they usually have a fat end on one end, and that’s where you’ll want to take your reading from.
All in all, it’s an amazing investment. And while I realize that this posting wasn’t entirely riveting, I feel like this needed to get out to the world (or at least, my small world of readers). I guess one downside to using a PT is that now, I never really know how long things need to cook for. I mean, there’s a few exceptions, but when I’m cooking chicken, I never want to chance it, so I am forever using my trusted PT. So now when someone asks me “Hey, how long did those chicken breasts need to cook for?” I answer: “Until they hit about 155°.” That’s usually not the answer most people look for when they ask that question, but it’s the truth.
So there ya have it. An indispensable tool in the arsenal of home-cookery. If you do not own one, please, do yourself a favor and buy one soon. You will not regret it.
Also, for my loyal readers, I have posted a new page, which offers an explanation/insight to where the near-future of this blog is headed.
Thanks for stopping by, and please don’t forget toStay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂