How to Use a Meat Thermometer
By: Jack Mancuso
How to use a meat thermometer: I always want my steak (or any other expensive meat) to come out perfectly. Who doesn’t? It’s heart-wrenching when you spend hours on a meal only to overcook or undercook the protein. Those mistakes also cost money.
To do that yourself, you, too, will need to learn how to use a meat thermometer. Trust me, it alleviates a lot of anxiety. And meat thermometers aren’t like some overly complex kitchen gadgets. They’re designed to do their job simply.
Now, you’ve probably seen many adept chefs with this Jedi sense of when meat is done. There’s a small glint in their eyes, lean forward to view the steak, nod, and the meat comes off grilled to perfection. You can almost hear the wind whisper, Tada! Such a skill takes years to master for the everyday cook, so why not just opt for the meat thermometer instead?
What Type of Thermometer do You Need?
Like any other implement, you want the right tool for the right job. There are two types I recommend. First is a digital thermometer, providing a nearly immediate readout. Some of these are oven safe, so you don’t have to keep poking the meat’s surface for readings.
The second is a digital probe that connects to a separate device showing temperature readout with customizable alarms. The digital probe is ideal for large pieces of meat like turkey.
Guess what? Thermometers won’t break the bank, either. You can get reliable ones for $25.
Location, Location, Location
When you’re learning how to use a meat thermometer, placement matters. You want to look for an area without fat or bone that’s the thickest. Generally, you can get a read by putting the probe in about ½” except for thicker meat, where you want to go further to reach the center.
If you are making a roast, start checking the temperature about a half hour before the expected completion time. Remember your meat’s temperature will rise 5-10 degrees while resting. If you’re making a smaller protein cut, check about 10 minutes before it should be done. Your recipe typically provides target temperatures, but you can also look them up on the internet for a doneness chart.
Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to slice into your meat until after it’s rested. You will lose a ton of moisture. Why go through all the trouble to obtain the perfect temperature only to miss the final trick for truly magnificent morsels?