Probe Cooking: More than just roasting meats
How many of you have one of these in a drawer in your kitchen? Maybe it’s still in a plastic bag with the owner’s manual from your oven or range? It’s time to take it out and make your oven work for you.
Most people look at this and think ‘meat probe’. They’re right. If you roast meats (pork, poultry, beef, any whole roast), this is a tool that will help you ensure that your meat is cooked all the way through. To use your probe to cook meats, insert the tip of the probe approximately 1-2” into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding fat and bone. Then insert the connector end into the port on the wall of the oven. Slide the rack into the oven and shut the door. Most ovens will then prompt you for cooking settings. Choose the appropriate cooking method (ie: roast, 375°F) and final temperature, and wait for your oven to tell you your food is done. You can still open the oven to baste, remove foil, etc., but you shouldn’t have to check for doneness. If you’re new to using thermometers to determine if your food is done, here’s a chart you can reference. These are guidelines, and some methods of cooking will have a lower finished temperature and longer rest time (especially in the case of rare beef)
Did you know that your ‘meat probe’ isn’t just for meat? It works just as well on casseroles like lasagna, macaroni & cheese, even pot pies. And best of all, you use it exactly the same way as you would for meat. I find it especially helpful when I’ve made something in advance (buffalo chicken macaroni & cheese, for example), and I’m taking it out of the refrigerator and baking it from cold. For casseroles, your finished temperature should be 165°F, regardless of ingredients. This has everything to do with food safety around reheated foods, which casseroles are. (Happy to share more about this in another blog post if there’s interest.) Below, you can see the dish in the oven and the settings.
Normally, this dish would cook about ½ an hour when put right into the oven after mixing the cooked macaroni, chicken, and sauce. Since it was started from cold, it could cook an hour or more. By using my probe, and setting a final temperature, I am able to monitor the dish and not worry about having a cold middle or overcooking.
Once the final temperature was reached, the oven alerted me and I had perfectly cooked buffalo chicken macaroni & cheese! Be sure to out some probe cooking at home and let me know how it goes.