Steaks are expensive. So the last thing you want is to ruin your steak unless of course, you went the economical route; in which case, you will probably get what you paid for. Great steaks, like the kind that you get at a high-end restaurant or grill house, are high-quality cuts that need to be handled and prepared with special attention.
But even then, it happens to the best of us- you spend hours agonizing over which spices to include in your dry rub before roasting that expensive cut of meat or fancy steak only to end up over or undercooking it. That’s why having a quality meat thermometer when grilling is so imperative.
Meat thermometers work by measuring the internal temperature of a piece of meat during or after the grilling is complete. One of the key functions of a grill thermometer is to guarantee that whatever is being grilled gets cooked sufficiently so that any pathogens capable of causing foodborne illnesses are killed.
You may be the best griller in town, but a reliable meat thermometer trumps instincts all the time. Grill thermometers take seconds to utilize but you have to learn how to use them correctly first. Here is a short guide on how to use a grill thermometer correctly:
Pick the right thermometer for your needs
There is a grilling thermometer out therefore for every type of grilling master, all you have to do is find it. The most basic styles available are the bimetallic and bulb thermometers, which can be found easily in your local grocery store. Though they are widely available, these types take a lot longer to record a reading and they also aren’t as accurate as some other varieties.
Their various glass components are also prone to breakage. Digital instant-read thermometers are some of the most highly sought after as they provide accurate results. The best thermometer for grilling is the digital probe thermometer as it is ideal for roasting, grilling and smoking large cuts of meat such as beef rib roast or turkey for long hours.
Calibrating your grill thermometer is key
Before you whip out your tongs and coal, it is important to check whether your grill thermometer has been calibrated correctly. A lot of cooking thermometers, even the digital varieties, are capable of drifting with continued use. However, it is easy to recalibrate them once they do so that you can ensure that they are recording accurate readings throughout.
Dial thermometers require a lot more attention compared to digital ones as they have to be calibrated in either freezing or boiling water before they are utilized for the first time. After the initial calibration, they must be recalibrated every month or so particularly when the weather gets too hot or too cold.
Digital thermometers, on the other hand, are supposed to be tested after every six months of use against freezing or boiling water to test for accurateness. Most digital thermometers, however, are outfitted with a reset button and that will do the trick whenever you need to recalibrate one. When all else fails with your digital thermometer, try and replace its batteries as that could also present you with problems.
Place your grill thermometer properly
You may have the world’s best grill thermometer, but it will only work if you know where to stick it. To get an accurate reading, the grill thermometer should be placed into the thickest part of the meat. When grilling thinner cuts of meat such as pork chops, chicken breasts or steaks though, it can be hard to determine exactly which part is the thickest.
In such a case, try and aim for the thickest area and then push your grill thermometer through your meat until the probe emerges on the other side. If you are grilling thick cuts of meat like a whole turkey or a bone-in prime rib, simply push the thermometer probe through the thickest area until you hit a bone.
Once you hit the bone, retract your thermometer slowly. As the tip enters the meat, the temperature reading will begin to quickly rise, but it will soon start to drop as you get closer to the thickest part or the core of the meat. Keep retracting the thermometer gradually until you hit a low point or the point at which the numbers quickly start to rise again- this is the temperature reading that you should go by when determining doneness.
Check on the meat temperature often
When dealing with large cuts of meats, especially, you need to start checking its temperature about 30 minutes before you expect it to be done. For thinner cuts, alternatively, you can do so 5 to 10 minutes before time. Pay attention to the temperature indicated in the recipe or in your food safety charts to make sure that you are headed in the right direction.
Your meat will continue to cook even after you have removed it from the grill, which is referred to as carryover cooking. So ensure that you give your meat some rest time so that the meat’s juices can redistribute through the meat to make it tender and juicy.
Grill thermometers take all the guess work out of grilling so that you can have some peace of mind that whatever you are grilling has been cooked to perfection. Nothing can ruin a griller’s mood faster than a grilling session gone wrong and worse still, over something that could have been easily avoided using the right grilling thermometer.
Whether it is a Thanksgiving bird gone dry, an overdone roast beef or a whole chicken that looks slightly pink, no one wants to deal with improperly grilled meat. Outside of enduring an underdone or overcooked meal, there is also the financial aspect to consider, as good meat is typically expensive; when grilled improperly, chances are likely that some of it, if not all, will have to be thrown away.
Any expert cook can confirm that the key to grilling meat correctly is to grill it to precisely the right temperature, which will be based on the type of meat being grilled, as well as the cut that is being prepared. And there is only one way to accurately determine the temperature of anything being grilled, and that is through a grill thermometer.