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How to Buy and Use a BBQ Grill Thermometer

Jan 16, 2008
Knowing what heat your oven and your food is makes for a great cooking practice and has been done for a very long time. The past 50 years have seen a number of thermometers on the market allowing cooks to be that little bit more scientific about their cooking. That choice is greater than ever now.

The most traditional thermometer for testing meat is a metal rod and analog dial. Simply insert the thermometer into the meat to judge how cooked it is. This is an excellent method however, like with most things in life, there are some drawbacks.

Most people leave the lid of the grill or smoker open whilst the temperature is being read. This causes heat to escape and has an affect on the time to cook and evenness, particularly with the thicker cuts of meat. Because the heat escapes, the temperature of the meat and over cools down and you'll then need to get the temperature back up to the desired level.

New contemporary thermometers have features to help with the above problem:-

Heat Resistant Materials
Instant Read Displays
Wireless Transmission (on some more expensive models)

Modern Materials: Because the science of materials has advanced so much, non-melting metal alloys and plastics have become so inexpensive that they can be enjoyed in the home. Thermometers made from these materials allow you to open the lid, place the thermometer in the meat where it will stay for a minute with the lid closed. There is no need to worry about it getting too hot.

Faster Results: Some are now so fast at giving you a reading that it's almost instantaneous. Simply insert, read and pull it out. You only need to have the lid of your oven open for a few seconds so heat loss isn't too much of a problem.

Sticky-ness of Reading: If you pull the thermometer out from the meat, you don't lose the reading. This saves you the hassle of having to read it whilst leaning over a hot grill.

Wireless Transmission: If you like your gadgets, you can even have a thermometer which you insert at any time and read the data as far as 100 feet away. This means there is not need to get up from your comfy hammock to check that the meat is at the correct heat.

No matter what type of thermometer you buy, there are a few tips on using them for testing meat.

Put it into the thickest bit of the meat in order to prevent it from getting burnt on the outside but raw inside. This makes slow cooking much easier and reliable.

If you are cooking meat still on the bone, make sure that the thermometer doesn't come into contact with the bone. This is because it can give a higher reading than the meat.

Take readings from different parts of the meat and in the oven using both meat and oven thermometers. Look out for a BBQ with a thermometer in the lid. By doing this you'll get an idea of where to place the meat for slow or fast cooking.

Prices of these thermometers can vary greatly between about $8 to over $100. Always compare prices and features.
About the Author
April often writes articles on home and garden site Finer Living which also has articles about buying BBQ accessories, barbeque grill types and guide to buying smokers.
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