What are your three most valuable kitchen tools? The multi-cooker you received as a wedding gift? Microplane? Immersion blender?
My three can’t-live-without tools are my 1) chef’s knife 2) cutting board and 3) meat thermometer.
Why the thermometer? Because it allows me peace of mind that the animal proteins I cook – chicken, red meat and even fish – are cooked just right. Not too little and not too much.
Undercooked protein foods harbor bacteria that can deliver foodborne illness. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know it is NOT FUN. Ugh. And for some people foodborne illness is downright dangerous, landing them in the hospital.
Barbecue experts agree.
“There’s nothing more embarrassing than dedicating your time to a wonderfully grilled piece of meat, only to cut into it and discover that it is still raw on the inside. After hours of hard work and focus, having to fire up the grill again and throw the meat back on is incredibly frustrating,” writes Michael Hass on his Angry BBQ blog.
“When learning to grill there is nothing more important than knowing the temperature to cook your meat to. Otherwise, it can end up in illness and in some severe cases; death,” he warns.
Yet just this week, I had the opposite problem. My pork tenderloin was too dry and tough because I’d overcooked it. My husband and I choked it down but we planned to douse what the leftovers with barbecue sauce.
Of course, I used my meat thermometer, but it never did show the roast up to temperature. So I left the roast in the oven too long. I decided it was time to purchase a new thermometer since the trusty tool I’d had in my drawer for years was inaccurate. Since I’m a low tech kind of gal, I selected the OXO SoftWorks Instant Read Meat Thermometer for the modest price of $11 at my local mass merchandiser.
With Christmas coming, I think I need to ask Santa for an upgrade: A digital leave-in thermometer. This allows you to see what temperature your meat is at without having to open the oven door.
Need any more convincing? Next time I’ll share a guest post by Mr. Haas about the top three reasons to use a meat thermometer.