Can you believe one of my favorite tools as a sportsman isn’t a gun…or a knife…or a flashlight…or even a multi-tool of some sort. Nope. It’s a gadget, and quite honestly a device that should be found IN EVERY KITCHEN! I’m talking about a trusty thermometer used specifically for cooking.
Now, let’s get something straight. Most kitchen thermometers suck. That’s right…if you have the old dial thermometer that takes 15–20 seconds to slowly react to the cooking temperature, that’s not good enough. Let me put it to you this way…if you were shooting at a flock of geese and pulled the trigger with a long delay in firing would this situation please you? More importantly, a gun with a long hang-fire time such as this scenario holds the potential for being a true safety hazard in the field.
Well, guess what…a slow thermometer not only slows you down as a cook. But chances are quite good that it’s slow in reacting because it doesn’t incorporate the latest in thermocouple science. This could mean it’s simply not accurate.
For the past couple years my go to device has been the Splash-Proof Super-Fast® Thermapen® produced by a company called ThermoWorks. I wholeheartedly endorse this product and I can say this IS NOT A SPONSORED EVALUATION. I can honestly say I spent the $96 plus freight to get the product just like you would. In fact, I am so impressed with a whole host of this company’s products I have purchased several types of thermometers, timers, etc. The entire product line appears to be top notch in quality.
It’s important to note you can’t purchase these products in stores or even on Amazon. Well, technically you can buy it on Amazon, but it simply directs you to their corporate store.
So, why invest nearly $100 in a thermometer? Good question. My first response would be because the safety of your family deserves it. If you’re cooking any type of perishable meat or fish attaining the correct minimum temperature is not something you should be guessing about. In fact, see the graphic (below) and click on it to enlarge. This gives you the minimum temperatures as established by The National Restaurant Association and provides a good guideline.
As you will see, in general if you are cooking any large muscle like a steak or a roast the minimum internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Ground meat which has had more surface area exposed to knives or cutters is more prone to bacteria growth and must attain a temperature of at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry and most any game birds are even more highly susceptible to nasty organisms and should be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just a few simple rules to observe for safety. Also, one of the main benefits of using the Thermapen is the slender probe to easily penetrate muscle. Yet, the main benefit in buying quality is this probe reads the temperature at the very tip of the probe. Other cheaper types of devices use different measuring technology and the reading could be an inch or two higher along the probe shaft. With the Thermapen there simply is no guessing as you know what the temperature is within a split second…not several seconds later.
Check out most cooking shows on TV and you will see how many professional cooks tend to gravitate to the Thermapen because of the superb quality. But what prompted me to write this post today is something new ThermoWorks is offering. Check out the new ThermoPop at almost 1/4 the price ($24 introductory price) of the Thermopen.
Sure, you sacrifice a bit of speed(this probe states a reading in 5-6 seconds), but the quality of this device very likely is second to none you will find in any store near you. I’ll be getting several of these to test out in upcoming weeks to come.
In closing, we all know about the importance of food safety when it comes to cooking and checking temps. But there is another important quality factor involved in the cooking process. To be a consistent cook it requires taking the guess work out of where things are at during the cooking process.
As many of you know, I come from the world of competition BBQ and often times when a piece of smoked muscle attains a specific temperature it gets pulled from the smoker to rest. Even a 5 degree variance can spell the difference between food that is outstanding and food that is simply just good.
And when you are constantly checking temps you want to do things fast. As the saying goes, “when you are looking, you’re not cooking.” Hence the need to open door, insert probe, get the reading and shut that oven door quickly once again.
As a sportsman, you should take as much pride in how you present things at the dinning room table as you do in the field or the waters where the food is obtained. If you’re one who downplays the importance of a good meat thermometer, than you’re missing out on an important element of enjoying the total sportsman experience. In other words, why sacrifice good food to a $3 piece of junk when you’ve already likely spent several thousand dollars to bring that meat into your home.
©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.