Hot and handy. The Thermapen cooking thermometer is a must-have in any kitchen
by Nick Harman - Tuesday March 6, 2012 11:57 am
Or how about the BBQ dilemma? Dad’s in charge of cooking, as laid down by ancient and immutable BBQ law, and he’s serving chicken legs burnt to a crisp outside but with centres professional chefs call ‘raw’. Call the ambulance now.
Those professional chefs don’t take risks, they use science. A probe thermometer tells them exactly when the meat has passed the temperature necessary to kill any bugs: 63C for beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts, 74C for chicken. At that point you get moistness and flavour and the big plus of not killing any guests. And many of those pros use a Thermapen.
Stick it and see
Thermapen is marketed by ETILtdwho make a large range of thermometers for the professional kitchen, so they need to deliver total accuracy or they’d be out of business. Their nifty Thermapen is a device that can cross over to home use too though, as it’s rather stylish looking and at around £50 not too expensive. We grabbed one and put it to work.
It’s certainly no twee toy; it comes with a serial number certificate showing the result of the accuracy test it took before leaving the factory, it’s robustly built in a sealed water resistant case impregnated with a ‘Biomaster’ anti-bacterial additive, and it settles to final temperature within 4 seconds (guaranteed).
The technical bit
Cheaper probes take longer, which makes them not all that useful, but the Thermapen uses a K thermocouple, which James May will tell you is a good thing and only found on the better probes. It can measure from -49.9C to +299.9C, and if your chicken ever reaches that higher temperature you can safely assume that your BBQ has already melted and the fire brigade are about to axe down your front door.
The probe folds away neatly into the body, turning it off at the same time, and the tip is needle thin, avoiding puncture wounds that might otherwise leak precious juices. It also comes in a range of 13 jazzy colours, technically so pro kitchens can easily keep them separate - meat, fish, confectionery etc. - but the home user gets to match their personal colour scheme.
Of course it isn’t just handy for meat; jam and preserve makers and chocolatiers will love its precision too, as will bakers - it’s perfect for macarons where the sugar syrup temperature needs to be precise.
We used one for a week and soon found it was almost indispensable in everyday cooking; the idea of not checking meat’s internal temperature seems crazy, why risk taste and health?
The only slight niggle we had was the lack of backlight on the display, which was presumably omitted to save battery consumption. The Thermapen should last 1500 hours before needing new batteries. It also has an auto off function after ten minutes, which is handy and irritating in equal measure, but it can be overridden.
For cool chefs there’s an optional protective wallet and zip pouch with belt loops and a wall bracket to store the instrument safely.
It is pricier than most on the market, but it’s very cool, British made and so well built you’ll know you haven’t wasted your money. In fact it’s an investment that any keen cook will be really happy to have made.