Ther­mome­ter an es­sen­tial tool in ev­ery grill­mas­ter’s arse­nal

Pawtucket Times - - HOME & GARDEN - By LIND­SEY M. ROBERTS

Rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well or well-done? One of the only ways to tell the true state of meat in an oven or grill is with a ther­mome­ter.

“Some­times meat feels done when it’s not done, or it doesn’t feel done when it’s way over­done. Es­pe­cially with poul­try or a large piece of meat,” ex­plains El­iz­a­beth Karmel, au­thor of cook­books in­clud­ing “Pizza on the Grill” and “Tam­ing the Flame.”

The North Carolina na­tive is such a stick­ler about her ther­mome­ters that she made her own once, mak­ing sure the num­bers on the face were large and glow-in-thedark for night­time cook­ing. She says a good ther­mome­ter is read­able with “per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion, but not too much in­for­ma­tion.”

All you need to know is the goal tem­per­a­ture and how hot it is right now; the name of the food you’re cook­ing and how long it will take to get to the goal tem­per­a­ture are un­nec­es­sary dis­trac­tions.

A sin­gle, ta­pered probe is nice for sav­ing the meat juices. Con­sider whether you need a wa­ter­proof ther­mome­ter, too, since it’s easy for them to fall into the sink and get ru­ined.

And re­mem­ber, meat isn’t the only food that re­quires heat pre­ci­sion. Grace Elkus, se­nior food ed­i­tor at the Kitchn, uses a ther­mome­ter year-round to fry dough­nuts and make candy.

If you don’t al­ready have a tem­per­a­ture-taker in your cook­ing kit, here are five rec­om­mended by Karmel and four other food pro­fes­sion­als to help you de­ter­mine a food’s done­ness this grilling sea­son and be­yond.

• OXO’s Chef’s Pre­ci­sion Dig­i­tal In­stant Ther­mome­ter is one of Karmel’s bud­get picks ($19.99, oxo.com). “It has a very large face, so the dig­i­tal read comes out very, very large,” she says. “Even when it’s dark out­side, it’s easy to read.” The on-off but­ton is easy to find and use, and the nar­row probe tip helps make the small­est of holes in the meat.

“And you want to make as few holes as pos­si­ble, be­cause the more holes you make, the more chances for the juice to run out,” ex­plains Karmel, who also runs an on­line bar­be­cue shack called Carolina Cue To-Go.

• Nearly ev­ery­one we talked to rec­om­mended the Thermapen by Ther­moWorks. Aaron Hutch­er­son, blog­ger at the Hun­gry Hutch, ex­plains that its dig­i­tal na­ture, clean de­sign, com­pact shape and big num­bers are win­ning points for this ther­mome­ter. “I’m a fan of those with a fold­ing probe, as it’s much eas­ier to in­sert at the proper an­gle than with lin­ear pens,” he says.

Hutch­er­son uses the Clas­sic Su­per-Fast Thermapen, but Ther­moworks also has the updated Mk4 ver­sion, in which the dis­play ro­tates right-side-up when turned, pre­vent­ing cocked necks and up­side-down read­ings ($79-$99, ther­moworks.com).

• Michelle Smith, au­thor of “The Whole Smiths Good Food Cook­book” and a pro­po­nent of the Whole30 reg­i­men, makes a lot of meat-cen­tered recipes for her fam­ily. She finds that La­va­tools’ Javelin is al­ways ac­cu­rate and fast, with a four-se­cond re­sponse time, “not to men­tion com­pact” ($24.99, la­va­tools.com). It fea­tures a large dis­play, mag­netic back and a water-re­sis­tant, an­timi­cro­bial con­struc­tion.

• When Marnie Hanel and Jen Steven­son, co-au­thors of “The Cam­pout Cook­book: In­spired Recipes for Cook­ing Around the Fire and Un­der the Stars,” cook a “medium-rare em­ber-grilled rib-eye” over a fire, Hanel says they use the Ther­moPop ($29, ther­moworks. com).

“It’s light­ning-bug fast,” Hanel says. “Its back­light is help­ful for cook­ing af­ter dark, it comes in an ar­ray of col­ors un­likely to get lost in the woods and, most im­por­tantly, it’s less ex­pen­sive than many sim­i­lar-qual­ity ther­mome­ters.” She keeps a sep­a­rate one with her camp-cook­ing sup­plies so that she al­ways re­mem­bers to pack it.

• Even dur­ing grilling sea­son, recipe de­vel­oper Elkus uses her Candy and Deep Fry Ther­mome­ter to make sweet treats ($17.99, oxo.com). “It clips eas­ily onto the side of a pot, mak­ing it per­fect for fry­ing dough­nuts or mak­ing home­made caramels,” she says. “It’s also very easy to read.” A large open­ing at the top is per­fect for slid­ing a wooden spoon in to lift the ther­mome­ter out of hot oil.

La­va­tools/The Wash­ing­ton Post

La­va­tools’ Javelin ($24.99, la­va­tools.com).

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