The 10 Best Wireless Grill Thermometers
Meat: An Experience Like No Other
The heat from the natural charcoals, charred hardwood, ceramic bricks, or propane burners broils the meat one side at a time.
Food has been a central focus point of life throughout all of human history.
Food has been a central focus point of life throughout all of human history. Diet shaped our ancestors' bodies and provided them with purpose, health, and societal control. In fact, cooked grains and meat have been purported by some scientists as heavily responsible for the advanced development of our brains, and thus our capacity for high-level thought. It is certainly evident that, over the course of evolution, what we eat has made us what we are.
So, it's no surprise that few things invoke such strong responses culinarily, visually, and aromatically as does the complex, visceral experience of cooking and eating animal products. Indeed, the very aroma of browning meat wafting on the breeze can bring to mind a sense of community, festivity, and patriotism in many people. Of course, this association of party and plenty is necessarily linked with one thing: the grill.
When we lovingly place a piece of meat on a coal-fired rack or in a smoker, we unlock uncounted chemical combinations that translate into amazing experiences for ourselves, our guests, and everyone's taste buds. The heat from the natural charcoals, charred hardwood, ceramic bricks, or propane burners broils the meat one side at a time. Natural juices drip from the meat onto the red-hot coals and hot surfaces of the unit and vaporize or begin rapid, forced oxidation (also known as burning), releasing extremely complex molecular compounds. These flavorful chemicals are so varied and intricate that scientists have yet to determine exactly why they taste so incredible. As the airborne solids and liquids from these reactions permeate the food, that iconic grilled flavor steps up and turns a simple lump of protein and fat into a true delicacy.
So, What Do I Do With This Slab Of Beef?
It's tough to argue against a tender, juicy, savory New York Strip. But one of the keys to a great meal is proper technique. When it comes to meat, the most important factor is avoiding overcooking. A $50 filet mignon cooked to well-done is considered by many an abject waste of meat (and money). In fact, a common refrain among chefs serving high-end cuts is to purposely use the oldest and lowest quality piece in stock for the well-done orders, because the end product is the same either way. To that end, understand this: temperature is key.
The other, more often-used method, is to season and slap individual steaks onto a hot grill.
OK, let's slow down a bit. There are two ways to cook meat on an outdoor grill. One popular method (that happens to be this author's favorite, as well) is to wrap smoker pellets or chunks of a preferred hardwood in foil and place that packet an inch or less from the coals, replacing it whenever the smoke dwindles over the first three hours (or longer, for more intense flavor). The other, more often-used method, is to season and slap individual steaks onto a hot grill. Both methods are, of course, great ideas for initiating awesome, meat-filled gatherings.
That being said, there are two distinct numbers to shoot for when using a grill or smoker. With slow-cooking, large cuts of meat such as pork shoulder or beef brisket have slowly broken down their collagen into tender, flavorful textures by 187 degrees Fahrenheit. If there are steaks on the barbie, many gourmets look for the 135-degree level, because the medium-rare doneness generally provides the most flavor as well as the highest tenderness. But there's one important step to remember.
One of the reasons you need a meat thermometer is that you need to take the meat off the grill before it is finished cooking. Mid-rare perfection, for example, is achieved at 140 degrees — but you'll remove it from the heat at 135 or just under. As the meat rests, the heat and moisture redistribute themselves evenly throughout the steak or roast. This keeps the consistency uniform and those flavorful juices on your fork, rather than on the plate. As this resting process occurs, the measurable temperature of the proteinaceous subject in question rises, from 5-7 degrees in steaks, or 8-10 degrees in roasts. With the availability of wireless grill thermometers today, there's no longer any excuse for serving up anything but the most perfectly cooked meats.
Foolproof The Process
Obviously, we all desire, in our heart of hearts, nothing more than to pull glistening, caramelized primal cuts and blackened steaks from our slow-smoker or grill. Well, think positively: you have that power within you. Once you learn the ins and outs of technique and temperature, all that remains is your diligence — your ability to monitor cooking and product temperature — to make the ultimate difference.
Obviously, we all desire, in our heart of hearts, nothing more than to pull glistening, caramelized primal cuts and blackened steaks from our slow-smoker or grill.
If you've ever hosted an event during which your grill was hot, you know just how hard it is to mingle with your handsome guests while also making sure the ribs don't dry out. Or, honestly, you might just be sorely averse to leaving the comfortable, air-conditioned, couch-containing living room to trudge outside. On top of that, we all know that opening the door of your smoker is a great way to release valuable cooking thermals and push back your dinner plans, minutes at a time.
For all those reasons, choosing the right wireless thermometer is paramount to having a delicious grillout while expending minimal effort. Make sure to look for the right features for you. It's worthwhile to remember that the temperature of the grill matters as much as the temperature of the meat. Slow-cooking happens at 225-275 degrees, but steaks are cooked using a higher heat of 375-450 degrees. With that in mind, it's beneficial to find a unit with two probes that can measure both the meat and the heat source.
One of the great parts about cooking in the modern age is that you don't need to stand fastidiously beside your outdoor cooking implement all evening while your steaks sear or your loins smoke. Today's technology lets you keep track of exactly how far along your main protein dish is at ranges far enough to set any home chef at ease. In fact, professionals who are bogged down in the kitchen prepping vegetables and seafood have even been known to take advantage of these whiz-bang marvels of remote meat monitoring to ensure that their end product is of the highest culinary quality.
So whether you're smoking or open grilling, remember that the power of your aromatic, brain-enhancing baby-backs is rooted in exactly how hot they get. That falling-off-the-bone quality is only available with the time, skill, and attention of a dedicated chef. And with today's choices in wireless meat thermometers, that attention-to-detail is awfully easy.