Do you use a meat thermometer?

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SchrodngrsFalco

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Poll Do you use a meat thermometer? (100 votes)

Yes, all the time 19%
No/occasionally 64%
17%

Listening to the podcast this week I found it odd just how burdening the Bombcrew found cooking meat, especially chicken. Also got the impression they ALWAYS use a meat thermometer. I eat meat every day with my dinner, almost always chicken, and I've never once in my life used a meat thermometer. I could see using it to cook a large cut of meat for a dinner party of some kind, but for just a chicken breast or something, I find it very odd. I also find chicken to be the easiest of the meats to cook; Thaw it out in water then you can bake it, boil it, and pan fry it (and it's all relatively quickly).

Now I'm wondering whether the general population sees meat this way or if it's just the Bombcrew.

So the question is in the poll, and here I also ask, how burdening do YOU find cooking meat, and do you have any uncommon techniques?

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mike

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#1  Edited By mike

The only thing I ever use a meat thermometer for is Prime Rib, in which case having one is a requirement if you want to consistently cook roasts properly.

Also, for people that actually use these things regularly...make sure you know what type you're working with. Most aren't instant read and are designed to be inserted into the meat before cooking and left there. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've seen people take a bird or something out of the oven, stick a thermometer in for five seconds, and then put it back in the overn - leading to severely overcooked meat.

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development

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#2  Edited By development

I have only ever used or heard of using one for whole turkeys. But I guess it could be way easier to just stab my chicken breast with a thermometer instead of cutting it open or squeezing it. Then again I'm not a good cooker man.

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toowalrus

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#3  Edited By toowalrus

Nah. If I was doing a lot of roasting of large beasts, sure, but on the grill? No thanks.

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ViciousBearMauling

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If there is one topic where I know my shit, it's cooking. Meat thermometers are for the same people who follow recipes to a T, I prefer some heart in my meals.

Cooking ain't science, but Baking, that's a different story.

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Video_Game_King

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I prefer some heart in my meals.

Are you saying that you regularly eat horse hearts?

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Wolfgame

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Haven't used a meat thermometer but can any cooks address a recent question that's popped up around here is that you shouldn't rinse chicken breast off before cooking it, something about transferring bacteria.

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ViciousBearMauling

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deactivated-650f737f2e2d5

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Took getting some food poisoning for me before I started using one. I'll only use it if I'm not working off of a recipe or directions, though.

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mike

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@wolfgame said:

Haven't used a meat thermometer but can any cooks address a recent question that's popped up around here is that you shouldn't rinse chicken breast off before cooking it, something about transferring bacteria.

Don't wash raw chicken, wash your hands and the prep area/sink after it's in the pan. Any harmful bacteria will be killed during cooking, rinsing while it's raw only needlessly risks spreading any possible e. coli or salmonella around to either food that isn't going to get cooked or surfaces that won't get disinfected. Don't do it.

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Zelyre

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@mb said:

The only thing I ever use a meat thermometer for is Prime Rib, in which case having one is a requirement if you want to consistently cook roasts properly.

Also, for people that actually use these things regularly...make sure you know what type you're working with. Most aren't instant read and are designed to be inserted into the meat before cooking and left there. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've seen people take a bird or something out of the oven, stick a thermometer in for five seconds, and then put it back in the overn - leading to severely overcooked meat.

Depending on how rare you like your prime rib, and depending on how well your oven keeps its heat, there's a real easy way to do prime rib - Chef John's way.

Room temperature meat, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. For every pound of prime rib, you leave the meat in the oven for 5 minutes, rounding up. So, a 4 pound prime rib would stay in a 500 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven off and leave the prime rib in for two hours.

I wouldn't try it with some huge cow sized roast, but for a 5-6 pound holiday prime rib? Bone on or off, every prime rib I've made has come out somewhere between rare and medium-rare with this method.

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mosespippy

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I cook meat almost daily and don't use a meat thermometer. I think that's the difference between me and the bomb crew though; I don't think they cook very often, particularly Jeff.

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mike

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@zelyre: I actually know about this technique and my own grandmother used to cook like this, however, the temperatures and hot spots of home ovens can vary so greatly I don't think there is one magic answer that everyone can use and still get the same results. One article I came across that tested various ovens found that they varied by as much as 90 degrees...that is nuts.

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SchrodngrsFalco

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@mosespippy: Yeah, those that cook often have the benefit of adjusting and fine tuning their techniques often. I just don't like the attitude "it's too hard to do something because of [this]" when [this] really may only be necessary the first two or three times you do it. It's the unknown of just how easy it actually is because at the surface it seems hard. To each his own though!

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tourgen

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#14  Edited By tourgen

just for turkey. can never get it right without one.

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Efesell

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Only with poultry.

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cornbredx

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#16  Edited By cornbredx

No, and I make brauts and chicken a lot. I don't feel I need it although with chicken I might as sometimes its raw recently (I bought a house last year and the oven that came with it doesn't quite work that well) and I can only figure that out when I cut into it. When I have a oven that works right though it's not a real problem so really only because of the oven I currently have.

I can usually tell without a meat thermometer. I don't cook anything extravagant that would need one. Like turkey or whatever.

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ArmedBear

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I am 98.2 degrees.

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Catarrhal

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I'm studying culinary arts in college, and I use a digital thermometer pretty damn often. Chicken that's perfectly cooked to 165° is much, much preferable to your standard overcooked bullshit. Truly makes a world of difference.

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49th

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No, I just like going by touch, appearance and intuition. If I was roasting a huge turkey or something I probably would use one but I haven't roasted anything that large before.

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OneManX

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I feel like the more you cook.. the less you need one. I've never used one, but I learned a ton of tricks on various ways to cook meat due to everyone in my family knows how to cook andyou pretty much learn from like age 8-9.

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TyCobb

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Only for thick pieces of pork. I like my chicken kind of tough/dry when I pan fry so I don't worry about it. However, if I am grilling chicken on a Weber, I will use a thermometer.

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SchrodngrsFalco

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@catarrhal: If you say it makes a world of difference, I'll use one soon and see how much better it is for me. My chicken does vary from time to time with how it turns out.

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I like using my meat thermometer for larger roasts. I know how long it should take to cook, but I want to pull my meat at the right time. Steaks or chicken? Never.

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fattony12000

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Nope.

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Zevvion

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#26  Edited By Zevvion

I sounded to me like they cooked chicken and beef maybe once or twice in their life. Yeah, when you do something for the first time it will obviously not come out great. But I prepare chicken often; it's really not hard at all. That said, I believe Vinny raised the point of the thermometer because he can't tell if it's still pink inside or not. I'm not colorblind, but that does sound like an issue. I would have trouble cooking it as well if I can't tell if it's done or not.

A tip would be to cook it in olive oil. It heats up a lot faster than sunflower oil or butter, which means it'll be done in 5 minutes, no need to check (talking diced chicken). It does require practice though. Olive oil can overheat to the point where it starts becoming a cancer evoking thing. But if you know what you're doing (practice) you can cook chicken reliably without having to look at the insides to see if it's done.

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l4wd0g

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#27  Edited By l4wd0g

I've been using my grill for a while and once you get a feel for it, you know that steaks cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side at 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) for a medium New York strip steak. It takes 12 minutes a side for brined chicken breasts at 400 - 425 degrees Fahrenheit. It's all about knowing your equipment. You have to know where your grill "hot spots" are.

My Tips:

  • Always brine your chicken (1/3 cup ionized salt, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 cups of water, and your seasoning for 30-45 minutes) or marinate them to keep them from drying out.
    • When mixing the brine the water you use shouldn't be warm or it will start to break down the proteins in the meat changing it for the worse as it starts to cook it.
      • You need a cup of very hot water to ensure the salt and sugar dissolve completely before adding your chicken.
      • What I do is dissolve the salt and sugar then add the other two cups of cold water then my seasoning and the chicken.
  • When cooking chicken on the grill, always apply a coat of olive oil to the grill, right before adding the meat to prevent the chicken from sticking
  • Make sure you aren't grilling your meat right out of the refrigerator (let the meat side out for 30 minutes to get it to room temperature.
  • Never brine a steak in water. If you want to brine your steak use a dry brine (read a shit ton so salt) and rinse it off before applying your seasonings
  • I usually coat my steaks with a then layer of olive oil before cooking. It helps keep them moist as I don't do the dry brine most of the time.
  • Cook your beef at the hottest temperature (my Weber grill is about 500 degrees)
  • Ribs are a pain in the ass to cook on the grill because they need to cook at a low temperature for a long period of time. As a result, I often cook them in the oven) What I do is I season them, completely wrap them in tinfoil (a layer on the bottom and on the top placing the ribs meat side down) with a table spoon of water, and cooking them in the oven at 215 for 3 1/2 hours for baby back ribs (4 hours for spare ribs). Then add the BBQ sauce, flip the ribs so the meat side is up, recover them with the tinfoil, and cook them for another 30 minutes. And finally I uncover them and broil them until the BBQ sauce starts to bubble. Seriously, doing ribs on the grill is less than fun.

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xite

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Jeff said he was adamant about using the meat thermometer because he can't trust himself to go by appearance with his color blindness. I don't have one personally but I was interested in getting one recently to help cook the perfect rare/medium rare steak.

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endoworks

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From everything I've ready when you do use a meat thermometer digital is the way to go and cheap ones tend to be unreliable. A great sorce is for thermometer review and general information is http://amazingribs.com/BBQ_buyers_guide/thermometer_buying_guide.html

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sammo21

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Obligatory "my junk is the only meat thermometer I own" joke.

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egg

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#31  Edited By egg

"how burdening the Bombcrew found cooking meat, especially chicken."

I'm not sure why ppl buy meat so much... it is highly unsanitary, comes in a lot of packaging, it often contains bones, they require a lot of preparation and/or cooking time, and it tastes bland unless lots of flavoring is used. (and often the inside is still bland)

Plus the flesh has been stripped, washed, and cut up for you by butchers, so there's less of a do-it-yourself feeling. It's almost like you're buying frozen pizza, throwing some sauce on it, and calling that a home cooked meal.

Never really got meat. :p

Anyway, I use a meat thermometer, but not for cooking. If you know what I mean.

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positrark

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I used it fairly often, though not as much lately after I got in the same camp as Drew and bought a Sous Vide machine, which effectively has one built in. A chicken breast cooked sous vide at 60 degrees Celcius (140 Fahrenheit) is just crazy moist and juicy compared to the ususal overcooked stringy stuff many make when they just guesstimate in a hot pan. Similarly with steak and fish. In the case of chicken, even just finishing it in at low temp in the oven with a meat thermometer to around 65 degrees Celcius (149 Fahrenheit) can make a huge difference.

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noizy

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#33  Edited By noizy

All the time when roasting meat in the oven. Never when grilling in a pan.

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SchrodngrsFalco

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@l4wd0g: Great post and thanks for sharing! Definitely taking a lot of these tips home tonight!

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isomeri

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Using a meat thermometer for anything that involves a frying pan seems crazy, so I've never used one for grilling or sauteing steaks, chicken etc. I do use an old fashioned metal meat thermometer for roasts and sometimes for pulled pork if the oven/smoker/grill is not familiar to me.

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SchrodngrsFalco

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Also, I completely forgot that Vinny & Jeff are colorblind. That explains a lot. But really, if they cooked chicken with another person like just twice they would probably know the right about of time to cook a breast and could get good at it without a thermometer.

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BoFooQ

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only on very large pieces of meat. I'm not going to use it when I cook a steak, but if I'm making a 4 lb roast, yes.

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chiablo

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#38  Edited By chiablo

I use a "meat thermometer" all the time.

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boatorious

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Yes, I always use my Thermopen for anything on the stove or grill, because I can't tell by touch and I don't like overcooked meat.

I also have a wired thermometer i use for roasting.

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@sammo21 said:

Obligatory "my junk is the only meat thermometer I own" joke.

Damn beat me to it