A Digital Meat Thermometer Brings Perfection
Heat, or at least the proper level of heat, and a good digital meat thermometer are essential to your outdoor cooking endeavors. Without it, how do you know if your grill or smoker is at the correct temperature? How do you tell if your meat is at the target temperature?
Temperatures within your barbecue grill and thus within the piece of meat you are cooking can vary considerable.
Since heat rises and dissipates quickly the temperature recorded at the thermometer on your grill lid can read much lower than the actual temperature at the grate where the meat is cooking.
How Low Can You Go?
Maybe you learned the counting method to determine if the grill is at cooking temperature. This involves holding your hand over the grate and counting the number of seconds until you need to pull your hand away. The sooner you have to remove your hand the hotter the grate temperature.
One problem with this method is that people have different tolerances to heat. In reality, you would need to calibrate this method with a thermometer you trust. By reading the value of the thermometer at each second of elapsed time, you would have a basis for using this method. However, to be accurate each time you would need to ensure consistency. Your hand would need to be at the same level and your counting would need to be uniform.
Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down?
Another cooking related tip to determine if your meat is at the proper level of doneness is the thumb pad test. With this test comparing the tightness of the pad below the thumb to the give of the meat is supposed to give you how well the meat is cooked.
The touch of the pad when the palm is open flat indicates the comparison for raw meat. By touching the tip of the thumb to the tip of another finger on the same hand will result in a tightening of the thumb pad and thus give a comparison for different levels as the meat cooks. With this method, a steak is well-done when the touch of the cooked meat is similar to the pad below the thumb when the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger touch.
If you use this method to determine whether your food is cooked to the proper temperature or not, use caution. Similar to the hand over heat method above, our hands are not of the same consistency and resiliency.
A farmer’s hand may be much firmer than that of an office worker. In addition, the give of the meat can be very different between cuts of meat.
There is no easy way to determine the accuracy of this method and you probably will not find many competitive grillers using this method.
Thumb Pad Test: Backofthenapkin Creative Commons License
Grill Thermometer: Personal Photo
Let Us Take A Look!
Have you ever taken a piece of meat off the grill and made a cut in it to check the color? I know I have at some point. However, exposing cut meat to oxygen will turn it a brighter color of red giving an appearance that it is less done than it actually is.
THE JUICES ARE RUNNING CLEAR – OR ARE THEY?
When cooking your poultry to perfection, how do you determine its internal temperature has reached the target point? Most of us would probably go with the “when the juices run clear” method. While this was probably a good measuring rod in the past, it may not be the case today. With the rush to market of poultry in today’s market, there is accelerated growth techniques used. This could result in bones that do not calcify completely. As a result, blood from the marrow of the bone can seep out and mix with the natural juices of the bird turning the juices more of a pink color than clear. This can cause a longer cook and drier poultry on your plate.
Image Credit: Barbecue Chicken Thighs stevendepolo via Creative Commons License
Crucial to that is a thermometer that evokes accurate readings of the temperatures measured.
When it comes to grilling and barbecuing there can be several different temperatures involved. For a meal that is not overcooked, you will want to monitor the temperatures with the confidence your thermometer is reading and reporting the correct temperature.