Monday, August 30, 2010

A Mega Weapon in the Barbecue Arsenal

Faster than a speeding bullet...

I hate sitting at a grill (or in front of a stove) with heat rapidly escaping while the meat thermometer slowly makes its way toward its temperature reading. I mean, how many times have you sat there while the reading slowly comes to a stop like that wheel on The Price is Right? When you finally do get the ready you still don't feel comfortable that it's what it says is.

Like a lot of people who cook at home, I have a kitchen gizmo fetish. Actually, I've gotten away from a lot of the frivolous less versatile stuff and delved into the more practical workhorse type items. Fed up with the temperature guessing game I decided to make the leap. Kenji Lopez-Alt who writes for the Food Lab on Serious Eats, has been raving about the Thermapen for a while. His praise of this thermometer couldn't be much higher.

This devise is absolutely off the chain. Temperature readings arrive in 3 seconds with a tolerance of .7°F with a range of -58°F to 392°F. With a regular thermometer you're never really sure exactly sure what the final temperature is because the reading never seems to stop moving. With readings that are within a .1° tolerance, if the number moves a little you're basically splitting hairs on a 1/10th of a degree. You really have to see it to believe it.

This is a barbecue mainstay. Next time you watch BBQ Pitmasters (how funny was last week's episode with the BBQ Pimp?), there's a very good chance you'll see these being used. Nothing sucks works than cooking pork shoulder or chicken watching your pit temperature plummet while the cheap-o thermometer does the "number dance". In three seconds you've got your reading and the lid shut. Done deal.

You're probably wondering, "Well that's great, but why would I spend $100 on a thermometer?" Currently, the older models are going for about 80% of their new value on Ebay. My thought is that between the retention of value and the cost of a couple of ruined pieces of meat from using a shitty thermometer - I think the Thermapen is a no brainer.

This whole thing is obviously predicated on whether or not you've got the spare change to blow on such things. Since I have no children I'm able to use my daycare money on stuff like this. You may even like what you have already - which is fine, too. However, if you are thinking about getting one now is the time to do it. For a limited time the price has been reduced to $89 with free shipping. Up to this point, it's the cheapest price I've ever seen on one of these new splash-proof models. Here is the link.

This is Food Lab's Take Here.


  1. Hi I was reading through some of your blog posts and you said you cook at home a lot. I’m not sure if you have a lot more healthy recipes of your own that you make, but if you do, you should send them into this contest I know of that's making it's way around the country. It’s coming to Cleveland on September 25-26th! I noticed your recipe and thought you would be interested. You could get great exposure for your recipes and meet celebrity cooks (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). All you have to do is go to to submit one of your healthy recipes. Deadline to sign up for Cleveland is September 8th so hurry! Good luck if you decide to enter, and if not, keep posting! :)

  2. Sarah got me one of those lately, and I don't know how I lived without it. I made this pork chop recipe at Sarah's parents a couple nights ago and forgot to bring the thermometer. I swear it took 5-10 more minutes to cook them because of how their thermometer slowly crawled upward (your first point) while heat escaped the grill.

  3. I love this thermometer for smoking:

    It monitors not only the temperature of the meat, but also the pit, and it allows you to set an alarm if either one go above or below a certain temperature.

  4. Thanks for the props, Dine O. FYI: That Thermapen sale is still active. Don't miss out!