How to Use a Meat Thermometer
When cooking, roasting, or grilling meat, the most effective way to know when your food is thoroughly cooked is with the use of a meat thermometer – this will aid in properly measuring the meat’s internal temperature. However, to ensure that this is done correctly, it’s vital to understand thermometers work and how to use one. Read on for detailed information on how to effectively use a meat thermometer, including details on where to insert the probe and how deep it can be inserted.
How to Use a Meat Thermometer
Before proceeding to check the temperature of meat, it critical to understand that different types of meat come with their own unique ways of measuring temperature. What’s more, depending on the type of thermometer you have, you can either insert the probe into the meat before cooking (cook until it gets to the required temperature) or cook the meat for a while before checking the temperature. Below is a list of different kinds of meat and how you can use a meat temperature on them:
Poultry; Using a meat thermometer on poultry is quite easy and you simply need to insert the probe into the thigh of the chicken. The recommended maximum temperature for poultry is 165 °F or 74 °C. However, an exception is only made when the meat is stuffed. In this case, the temperature is best taken from the center of the meat’s stuffing and should get to the same 165 °F or 74 °C before it is considered done.
Beef, veal or lamb: For these types of meat, the probe should be inserted directly inside the meat. The recommended full cook-time temperature with beef, veal and lamb is 145 °F or 63 °C if you want the medium-rare, well done should get up to 170 °F or 77 °C.
Pork: The full cook-time temperature for pork is 160 °F or 71 °C and the same rules for beef, veal, and lamb apply here. The probe should also be inserted directly inside the meat.
Ground meat: Even if the meat ground, there should always be a part that is considered the thickest – this is where to insert your thermometer probe. For hamburgers, the probe goes in via the side of its patty and ends in the middle. Ensure to monitor each piece of patty or meat as heat may become uneven. With hamburgers, the desired temperature is 160 °F or 71 °C if the meat is derived from beef, veal pork, or lamb. However, 165 °F or 74 ° is ok for poultry.
Where to Insert the Thermometer
The best place to insert the probe of your meat thermometer is that part of the meat that is considered the thickest. This is irrespective of whether it is the oven-safe type of thermometer or the instant-read type. The reason why this portion is chosen is that it will likely take the longest time to cook: thus, if that portion is at a safe temperature, then, the whole meat should be done.
For instance, the thickest part of the whole poultry has to be the thigh or the breast. The best spot to choose should be completely devoid of cartilages, fat, gristle, and bones as the reading from these portions can be very misleading. Additionally, the right place to insert your thermometer probe with items like hamburger differs from whole meat, as explained above.
How Deep Should you Insert the Thermometer Probe?
Reading a meat thermometer is not complicated at all. Just get the probe inserted about 5.1 cm or 2 inches deep. But you can still leverage the thermometer’s indicator mark to know when you have reached the recommended depth. Meat thermometers either display their temperatures digitally (digital temperature display type), or you can read the progress in the form of a round temperature dial. The manner in which your meat thermometer displays results does not matter; to achieve the correct reading, the probe must be well inserted according to recommendations.
Types of Meat Thermometer
Here are a few types of meat thermometers to take note of:
Oven-Going Thermometer: This type of meat thermometer is best suited for larger chunks of meat, such as whole chickens, roasts, and turkeys. Your Oven-Going Thermometer should be inserted before grilling or roasting; what’s more, it stays on the meat throughout the cooking time, whether in the grill or the oven. With this kind of thermometer, you should observe all the rules of using a meat thermometer like inserting it into the right portion and up to the recommended depth in order to get an accurate result.
When you observe that the temperature has reached the specified level for the type of meat you are cooking, the probe should go in a bit further. Increase the cooking time for the meat if the temperature happens to drop. However, the meat is ready to be served if the temperature remains the same, just get it out of the oven or grill, cover with aluminum foil and allow it to stand for a quarter of an hour prior to carving. Within the standing period, the temperature may go up 5°F to 10°F.
Instant-Read Thermometers: This type of meat thermometer comes in both digital and dial varieties. Using the instant-read thermometer requires that you get the meat out of the grill or oven before inserting the probe for instant reading which is implicated in the name. What’s more, it comes in two types;
Dial Instant-Read Thermometer: We have already touched on the recommended insert depth for this kind of thermometer, which is at least 2 inches. However, the depth varies with thinner foods. Since 15 to 20 seconds is enough for the temperature to be registered, it shouldn’t be left inside while the meat cooks.
Digital Instant-Read Thermometer: Here, the probe of the thermometer should only go in into the food by half an inch, and 10 seconds is enough for it to register the meat’s temperature. This type of meat thermometer is effective in checking larger chunks of meat as well as thinner foods.