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Meat Thermometer Too Slow
Old 06-23-2009, 08:39 PM   #1
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Meat Thermometer Too Slow

I have a meat thermometer something like this:


and one about like this:



and one like this:



and they are all useless because they are too slow.

Tonight is a good example. I was grilling this boneless chicken...



I put in a thermometer and it reads 108, 112, 118, 124, 126 etc. That is, it is slowing increasing, but it was obvious it wasn't going to get anywhere near 170 degrees. So I cut open the piece, and there's no pink meat. That is, it's done.

I've calibrated these thermometers with boiling water, so they are accurate, but they are useless.

Does anyone have a thermometer (or way of using one) that actually tells them when the meat is done?
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:45 PM   #2
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Ok, Al,
Give this a shot.
NerdKits - DIY Meat Thermometer with Predictive Filter

However, I will confess it is way more than I would be willing to do, or would be able to do. But it sounds like you can get a real fast accurate thermometer.

Here is another site that seems to have researched different models. I don't think I would pay $89 for one, but they say it is very fast and accurate.

http://www.galttech.com/research/hou...hermometer.php

Looks like Thermapen is the answer. 32 five star reviews on Amazon! But $86 is still pricey.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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I have the same problem Al. No answers for you except to cut it open like you did.
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:17 PM   #4
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Al, You don't need no stinking thermometer (well keep them for turkeys but not for grilling ). Just eyeball the meat for a medium london broil , It is five - seven minutes on each side and for those chicken breasts it is probably 3-4 minutes on each side .
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:22 PM   #5
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Grab one end of the breast - heh heh - with your tongue tongs, and try to fold it in half. If it "breaks", it's done. As seen on Food Network...
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:24 PM   #6
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Grab one end of the breast - heh heh - with your tongue tongs, and try to fold it in half. If it "breaks", it's done.
That sounds painful......
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:25 PM   #7
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I got one of those "fork thermometer" types, and I agree, way too slow of a response time. Good for things where you don't want/need fast responses though, I use mine for brewing and checking mash temperatures while I stir. But not for grilling. It takes practice, I'm getting better at telling "done-ness" by "feel". Keep feeling as it is cooking so you get used to the changes. Just trying to tell at the end (should be like 'this') never helped me. But feeling it change from soft to firm to firmer as it cooked, and knowing about how done they are I started to get the hang of it.

BTW, if you brine the chicken it will be far, far more tolerant of a little over-cooking than un-brined.

Try Cooks Illustrated, I think they did a test recently on thermometers.

I like the DIY predictive filter! I've tried to this with Turkeys, graphing the temperature every 15 minutes in excel and doing some curve fitting. Not too good for that, the turkey is responding in lots of non-linear ways, I guess as the moisture levels change, etc. But predicting the response in something at a fixed temperature should work well.

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Old 06-24-2009, 02:30 AM   #8
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T-Al,

Back in my restaurant-inspecting days I spent quality time with one of these babies ( A Cooper Atkins Waterproof Thermocouple, about $250, but you'll only wait 30 seconds, max, for a read):

Cooper Atkins Waterproof Thermocouple w / DuraNeedle Probe 35132-N | ACityDiscount Restaurant Equipment

At home we have one of these (Raytek FoodPro Plus, $199 online, we got it free at a party; it's got infrared (useless for interior of foods) and a probe):

Amazon.com: Raytek foodpro plus US Home Improvement


And one of these (Pyrex thermometer, $20 at your local big box home goods store):

Amazon.com: Oneida 31161 Digital Thermometer & Timer: Home Improvement


The Pyrex is fine for roasts, turkey, and other big pieces of meat that are in the oven or on the grill for long periods of time. You insert the metal probe in the meat, stick the receiver unit onto the stove or someplace cool (it's a magnet) and preset the temperature you want to pull the meat out at; when it beeps, your food is done. It's great for Thanksgiving turkey, but a bit too slow for BBQ.

The Cooper Atkins is great, easy to use, very fast (near-instant for most things, up to twenty or thirty seconds for some things) but not cheap.

We've been happy with the RayTek and it's the instant-read thermometer we use at home for grilling. Its user interface is not as good as the CooperAtkins and I don't like the fact that my hand is right on top of the probe (not comfy in a BBQ). If we hadn't gotten it for free and we were going to spend money on a thermometer, I'd buy a low-cost CooperAtkins Thermocouple (you can get economy ones for under $200) because the probe is attached with a metal cord and it's a lot easier to get some distance between your hand and the heat source when you're measuring temps on cooked foods.

The other thermometer I used a lot was a "lollipop" style like one of these:

Cooper-Atkins DPS300-01 Swivel Head Digital Thermometer

They're also called digital pocket test thermometers and you can get them at any restaurant supply store for about $20. The second thermometer you posted a picture of looks like one of these, but I'd take the one you've got with you to a restaurant supply store and see if it's the same thing.

Given that you've been pretty unhappy with the ones you've got so far, this is the one I'd recommend. It's easy to use, cheap, and small. And if it still doesn't move quickly enough, you've only spent $20 on it. I can say that these types of little pocket test thermometers are what most of the chefs and line cooks in our town use, even at the really ritzy restaurants. They take a minute or so, and do better if you slide the probe in parallel to the long surface of the meat (ie, sideways, not top-down) -- it seems to give a more consistent read.

Finally, you need to know where your temperature-taking point on the probe is. For most digital instant-reads, it's at the very tip. For some digital instant-reads, there's a dimple about 1/2 a centimeter up the side of the probe -- that's where the temperature is taken, so if it's not in the food, you won't get a good temp or a quick one. Most dial-type thermometers also use the dimple method.

And there it is, probably more than you wanted to know, if you didn't know it already.
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:12 PM   #9
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I have one similar to the Oneida one that Urchina linked to Amazon. Mine is a Taylor TrueTemp from Target-
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004XSC5/...0&linkCode=asn it was around $13 in the store. I like the long cable for the probe, the digital readout and the ability to leave the probe in and set a temperature and it will beep when it reaches the temp.

If I use it to poke into food and get an instant readout it does the same thing as the one Al has, the readout takes a while to jump in increments until it gets to the temp. I haven't found it to be a negative issue though. It will take a while to get to the high temp on the first piece and then on the next piece the temperature will be close to the last reading and will adjust quickly.

I use the temp guides printed on the back to tell me the temp needed for different meats.
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:11 PM   #10
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I own one of those round metal/glass analog ones, and use it only for turkey or roasts (which I rarely make). The trick with that type is to insert it before cooking, so it reacts to the internal temp changes in real time.
A probe type one came with my convection oven. I never used it.
I use a good old fashioned roasting/cooking chart to time meats.
Simply cut things open to see, as you did.
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:19 PM   #11
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Back in my restaurant-inspecting days
I'll bet that you have always wanted to start a sentence using that phrase. Nice job!
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Does anyone have a thermometer (or way of using one) that actually tells them when the meat is done?
The heat of the meat is proportional to the angle of the dangle...
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:39 PM   #13
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:58 PM   #14
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The BBQ crowd swears by the Thermapen, it ain't cheap though, it's onsale for $74 right now.

ThermoWorks - Home of the Original Super-Fast Thermapen!

If you peruse some BBQ forums the Thermapen kind of has a cult following.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:21 PM   #15
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Here's a vote for the Thermapen. It's expensive, but a WINNER. Also recommended by Cook's Illustrated. (Boring fact about me: I test recipes for Cook's Illustrated magazine.)
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:45 AM   #16
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I hear that happens with age...
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:18 AM   #17
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I got one of these for $4 at a garage sale (brand new). I tried it last night and it worked fine. It says "Your food is almost ready!" then "Your food is ready!"
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:51 AM   #18
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I use one of these
ThermoWorks – Original Oven Thermometer / Timer. Classic design and simplicity at a GREAT price.
and love it. You stick the sensor into the meat before it goes into the oven and set the alarm for the desired temp. It also works as a timer.
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:27 PM   #19
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I don't use a thermometer. I have cooked enough in the last 30 years that I know when something is done just by looking at it.
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:29 PM   #20
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Here's a vote for the Thermapen. It's expensive, but a WINNER. Also recommended by Cook's Illustrated. (Boring fact about me: I test recipes for Cook's Illustrated magazine.)
I love Cook's Illustrated! I am impressed.
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