Saturday, March 21, 2009


I can usually tell when a veal chop or burger is done by poking it with a spatula or my hand, but I have no clue when a roast is done without using a thermometer. Here there are three distinctly different approaches: (i) use a meat thermometer that you stick in the roast and check it from time to time; (ii) periodically take the roast out of the oven and insert a good digital thermometer to find out the temperature (see above at right); or (iii) use a digital electronic probe that connects to a device that sits on your counter and notifies you when the desired temperature is reached (at left above).

I strongly recommend the digital probe method for a roast, cross-checked if you are nervous with pokes in multiple locations with a sensitive digital thermometer. The probes are accurate and it is great to be able to walk away from your roast for long periods of time. If you get curious, you can always check the probe to find out the current taste of your roast. Digital probes are cheap, starting at about $20. Make sure you buy one that turns off when you aren't using it; the others waste the battery and, as a result, may not be there when you need them. They almost always come with a time incorporated, which in some cases has its own battery.

The Thermapen pictured above is the consensus choice for a digital thermometer. It is accurate and takes only 3 seconds to give you a reading rather than 30 seconds or so. It can be used to measure the temperatures of candy and oil, too. The one problem is that it is very expensive, listed at $89 and virtually impossible to find at a discount.

Bobby Jay

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