There is more to using a meat thermometer properly than simply grabbing one that "looks good" and sticking it in the meat. If you want to get the most out of this powerful and extremely useful tool, then you need to know the proper steps. Good thing there aren't all that many. All you need to do is follow these steps and you will be well on your way to getting your meat done exactly the way that you want it each and every time.
- Choose the right one. Despite what many people would like to think, there are actually several different types of meat thermometers on the market. For example, the two most common types are also the two that are the most different from each other. The first type of thermometer is designed so that you leave it in while you are cooking, where as the other is the "instant read" type. Each have their limitations and strengths, and each can do an equally superb job in reading the temperature of meat.
- Prepare properly. Once you have the thermometer you are planning on using, you need to prepare it properly. The first step in doing this is to understand the way that your particular model is designed to work. For example, do you have one of the types that you insert and read right away? Perhaps you are using one that requires you to leave it in while your meat cooks? Either way you need to read and understand the instructions that came with it. When you do use the thermometer, make sure that it is stuck into the thickest part of the meat, and that it doesn't touch any bones. The thicker portions typically take longer to cook, and bones transmit heat that can lead to false readings.
- Set the temperature. Turn your oven, or grill, to the temperature range that you want the meat to cook at. Before you place the meat (and the thermometer) into the oven, or on the grill, allow enough time for the oven or grill to warm up. Other wise, you can easily end up miscalculating cook time, and the thermometer won't really do you any good.
- Cook and check. Once you have the heat source ready, you can go ahead and start cooking the meat. Follow the directions in your recipe carefully. Part of following these recipes closely will require that you watch the clock. When you reach both the ten and five minute marks before the meat is supposed to be done, check the temperature. This is done due to variations in cook times and temperature ranges that you can find in most cooking appliances. When the temperature reading is in the range that you want, you are done cooking. Remove the meat and allow it to rest.
Now that you know the proper method of using your meat thermometer, you can begin utilizing it more often in your cooking endeavors. Keep in mind that even though you may be "finished" using the thermometer, you are still not done. Each and every time you have finished using the thermometer, you need to also clean it. If you don't you can easily run the risk of cross contamination and getting people sick.