Is it ready to eat yet? A couple good Cooking Thermometers can answer the question for you. For smoker chefs a good thermometer is essential to accurately monitor the temperature of your smoker and the meat inside.
Proper temperature control is crucial for successful smoking, some cuts of meat are just too pricey for guess work.
I suggest using two thermometers, one to keep track of the smoker temperature, and the other to keep an eye on the food temperature.
Cooking thermometers, especially ones designed for grilling or smoking, will improve your efforts.
Types of Cooking Thermometers
There are a wide variety of cooking thermometers available designed to help you as a chef. Basic dial thermometers are simple to use and inexpensive. On the other end of the spectrum are high tech digital thermometers that are programmable and feature remote paging. Learn more about cooking thermometers and see which one(s) may be right for you.
- Analog Dial Thermometers- The thermometer your grandpa used. These models are very basic and dependable. Analog thermometers are perfect for checking food temperature, smoker or grill temperature, and even things you cook in the oven.
- Digital Thermometers – Once considered an exotic and high-tech luxury these models have come a long way. Today instant read digital thermometers come in a wide variety of sizes and prices. They are great for quickly taking the temperature of cooking foods.
- Taylor Remote Cooking Thermometers Fire and forget, literally. Remote thermometers equipped with pagers are the ultimate in cooking convenience. Simply take the pager with you and the thermometer will page you when smoker or meat temperature becomes an issue.
Keeping an Eye on Smoker Temperature
Most likely your grill or smoker have factory installed grill thermometers. Don’t worry if you don’t have one they are easy to install. Unless you have a digital smoker you probably have an analog dial thermometers. Better ones will actually show the temperature, not just a heat description such as hot or warm.
Next check to see where the thermometer probe is located. Generally it should be near the level where the food is cooked at. It’s perfectly natural for meat smokers to have hot spots and cooler spots. The vents at the top and bottom of a meat smoker circulate air. And because heat rises the temperature at the top of the smoker run hotter.
If your smoker has no thermometer, or you want to relocate it, they are easily installed. It involves drilling a hole at the desired location and adjusting the position of the thermometer. It is held in place by a locking nut.
A Remote Meat Thermometer works well for checking your smoker temperature. Simply insert the sensing probe through a portion of the meat so the tip of the probe is exposed to the smoke chamber. This way the sensing tip can accurately monitor the temperature of the smoke chamber.
Quality digital smokers have very accurate temperature controls. Just set the temperature, put in the meat, and the smoker temperature should stay just right. Call me old fashioned, but I would use an internal cooking thermometer to confirm the smokers sensing unit is working properly. If the built in system seems right on it’s fine to use.
Watching the Meat Temperature
In order for your smoker recipes to turn out just right it’s important to use a thermometer to check the meats internal temperature. You can check the meat’s temperature with an instant read thermometer, make sure it’s a instant read. A simple analog dial indicator is reliable and easy to use. Basic electronic models have really come down in price. For those of us with aging eyes they are a lot easier to read than dial models.
Cooking thermometers are easy to use, just remember a few simple rules. Insert the probe deep into the meat’s center avoiding fatty areas and bones. Good models can get an accurate measure in 8 to 12 seconds. If it takes longer than that get a better one, or it’s not a quick read.
Instant read thermometers are important because when you open the smoker to check the temperature there is a lot of heat loss. Leave the smoker open too long and add some serious cooking time. Some smokers take a while to recover from lost heat.
You can completely eliminate the heat loss problem by using remote thermometers. The sensing probe is attached by wire to the digital control unit, which stays outside the smoker. So meat temperature can be checked on the controller without opening the smoker. Nicer units are programmable so you can specify the desired done temperature. A beeper will sound when the proper temperature is reached.
For the ultimate in convenience consider a digital Taylor Remote Cooking . You can monitor the temperature from inside the house. This is a great option for those of us smoker chefs in the cool north woods. When the meat is done the unit “pages” you.
A couple of good quality cooking thermometers will help turn you into a better smoker chef. Inexpensive cuts of meat are okay to experiment with, but for costly cuts don’t run the risk of ruining them.
Today’s thermometers not only make you a better cook, they make meat smoking a lot easier. For safety reasons you need to keep an eye on your smoker every once and a while. But cooking thermometers, especially remote models, ensure that you won’t have to baby sit your smoker.
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