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How to Use a Meat Thermometer Accurately for Perfectly Tender Results

Picture this – you spend hours roasting an expensive piece of meat only to undercook or overcook it. But nobody wants a slice of tough meat. And this is where a meat thermometer comes in. It’s accurately calibrated to ensure your meat is cooked to the perfect internal temperature. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use the best digital meat thermometer for perfectly tender results.

Choose the right thermometer

There are two styles of meat thermometers: bulb and bimetallic. While you can find other inexpensive options, they may not give accurate results. An instant-read digital thermometer gives an instant readout.

A digital probe thermometer connects the probe that you insert into the meat. What’s more, it comes with a customizable alarm. This is the perfect device for roasting cuts for long hours like beef rib roast or turkey. Keep in mind this thermometer features a 6-inch probe that you connect to the readout device.

Oven-going meat thermometer

It goes on any cut of meat – from roasts to whole turkeys. You should place the thermometer at the center of the uncooked meat to get an accurate temperature reading. Once the cuts attain the desired temperature, you can push the thermometer a little further. If the temperature remains the same, you can remove the meat from the oven or grill.

Set up the thermometer

For the best results, you should place the thermometer on the thickest portion of the meat (avoid fat or bone). First, you must insert the probe inch into the cut to find the lowest internal temperature. For Thermoworks models, you should place the probe 1/8 inch into the meat.

The temperature reading is taken from the tip of the probe. However, you should expect a drop as you head to the deepest part of the meat. Generally, the outside part of the meat is very hot, so you should focus on the thickest section.

Larger parts

You should place the tip of the digital thermometer at the center of the core.

Cooking a chicken, rib roast, or turkey

The best way is to insert the thermometer into the side (about halfway the thickness). If you’re cooking an inch-thick steak, the temperature will rise and then drop.

When to insert the thermometer

The cooking time will help you set up the thermometer – you should start before the stated time. Avoid measuring frequently because every time you do this, you lose some heat.

A general rule of thumb is to check the meat every 20-30 minutes before you expect it to be done. For smaller and thinner cuts, you ought to check the temperature ahead of time. And there’s no guesswork here. You should aim at the meat temperature given in the food safety charts or recipes.

You should avoid removing the food from the grill or source as this will give an inaccurate reading. This brings us to the next question, how long should you leave the thermometer in the meat? You should place the thermometer in the cut for 10 seconds to allow the readings to register. If the meat has not met the minimum safe temperature, you should continue cooking.

For cuts like steaks, thick roasts of beef, pork loin, turkey breasts, veal, and chicken pieces, you must consider carryover cooking. These meats will continue cooking after you remove them from heat. For this reason, you should stop cooking before the meat is done. You may want to confirm whether you can leave the thermometer in the food while still cooking.

Knowing the best time to stop cooking your meat depends on how hot the outside is and how big the pieces are. The carryover cooking for large meats is about 10-20 minutes, while smaller steaks can take a few minutes. As the cut rests, the juices will redistribute and stay even after you cut it.

For roast beef joint, it’s recommended that you test the temperature towards the end of your cooking. This ensures you don’t move any raw bacteria to the center of the meat. That way, the juices will have plenty of time to redistribute into the steak.

Calibrate your thermometer

If you’re not sure about the accuracy, you should place the device in ice water (it should read 0 degrees C). If the thermometer doesn’t reach the desired temperature, then the calibration is off.

Most digital thermometers have a reset button so you can recalibrate by following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will ensure perfectly cooked meat.

For most models, the temperature can be out by 2 degrees Celsius. While this won’t cause much difference, it could bring some issues in terms of food safety.

Know the ideal temperature for meat

Different types of meat require specific temperatures before they are considered `done’. According to USDA, the ideal temperature for veal and beef is 145 degrees F. But there is a caveat to this. Red meats like chops and roasts can be cooked to your liking. As long as the outside is well cooked, you can go for medium-rare or well-done.

After the thermometer reads 63 degrees Celsius, you should allow the steam to rest for three minutes before serving. For ground meat and sausage, you should aim for 160 degrees F.

The safe internal temperature for pork is 71 degrees C. To achieve the perfect balance, you should ensure the internal temperature hits 65 degrees Celsius before resting it.

If you’re cooking fish, the safe internal temperature is 60 degrees F. Once the fish reaches 55 degrees F, you should rest it before serving.

For modified meat (rolled, minced, brined, or tenderized), the outer part of the meat becomes the inside. So, cooking just the inside won’t kill the bacteria.

High-risk foods like poultry and rolled roasts should be cooked to 75 degrees Celsius. But you can’t tell the level of doneness by checking how long you’ve been cooking. That’s why you need a thermometer for accuracy. Make sure you get the temperature right before you remove it from the heat source.

Wrap up

If you’re a meat lover, you can’t live without a meat thermometer in your kitchen. Maybe you want to create a showstopping roast beef or mouthwatering chicken; this device will ensure your food is cooked to perfection. Of course, you should invest in the best digital meat thermometer that gives accurate measurements.

It’s time you practice cooking your meat for perfectly tender results.

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