Have you ever been such a helicopter braiser that you slow down your cook time by constantly peeking into the oven for some visual clue as to how it's going in there? (Hint: It's not going well if the door is open.) Then, please, please get a probe thermometer.
I'm a classic Capricorn—numbers-focused, lover of precision...Okay, fine, call me a a perfectionist. Even things like braised chicken can't be left in peace to do their thing (sorry to my future children). So, when I heard Epi's Digital Director David Tamarkin say he hangs out in another part of the house (!) when something's cooking, I...well, I ignored him. Because the beep of a kitchen timer isn't going to do it for me. I see cook time as a guide that I'll only accept after a certain amount of thermometer-sticking and pan wiggling.
Then, I learned that David's chill is all thanks to the ThermoWorks DOT, a leave-in probe thermometer that he sets to the right temp, then goes about his life. Maybe you also like things exactly the way you like them or maybe you want to clean your cousins out at poker while you're on turkey roasting duty this Thanksgiving. Either way, this little thermometer is the key.
How It Works
Unlike a standard instant-read situation (we love the same company's Thermapen for that,) the DOT is a leave-in probe thermometer. The body of the device is attached by a long slender cord to a small probe—which means your fingers don't need to get too close to whatever you're cooking. You simply insert the probe into the chicken leg on your grill or the roast in your oven, then close the oven (or grill, or what have you) and attach the magnetic body of the thermometer somewhere nearby.
The DOT is especially helpful for braising and roasting, when it can be hard to tell how a slow, long cook (of a big 'ol cut of meat) is going. When baking, it's often unwise to open the oven door, lest baked goods deflate. The DOT allows you to check your oven temperature—or the internal temperature of your cake or bread—without letting cool air in. And while an instant-read candy thermometer like the Thermapen is best monitoring the temperature when you're making ice cream or marshmallows, your DOT can definitely be used for desserts in a pinch. Joe Sevier suggests using one to alert you when "you're waiting for something to cool down to a specific temperature before moving on with the recipe...like when you're tempering chocolate, for example."
Perhaps the best application of the DOT is when you're on summer grill duty, and resent the fact that you're twenty degrees hotter than everyone else at the barbecue because you keep lifting the hood to check temps. Stick the DOT to the outside of your grill, place the probe in your meat, and enjoy your cocktail while it's still cold. Just be aware that the DOT does require some care and precautions to keep from melting onto the grill. Flare ups—those little bursts of flame from dripping fat—can reach over 1000 degrees (the DOT can withstand temps to 700 degrees). So it's best if the meat is positioned so the cable doesn't have to drape over the grate, though to be extra careful, you can wrap the cable in aluminum foil.
Why Can't I Just Use My Instant Read Thermometer?
You can, of course. If you're only going to buy one thermometer, buy an instant-read. But a probe and an instant-read do different things, and having both might make your cooking less hectic, and give you better results. "With a leave-in probe thermometer, like DOT, the probe stays in the oven or grill or smoker and keeps track of changes in temperature over time in just one spot; while when you use an instant-read thermometer, you can check the current temperature of a food in multiple places to verify doneness," explains Tim Robinson from ThermoWorks. When you've got something quick on the grill, like chicken thighs or a piece of fish, a one-time check with the instant-read might be all you need. But for slow cooking situations, a leave-in probe stops you from cooling down your oven, grill, or pot with constant checking, and gives you the certainty you need to stop fussing as you near the kitchen timer's bell.
What Are The Different Probes For?
While there are six possible probe attachments, The DOT comes with a 4.5-inch Straight Penetration Pro-Series Probe, which is a steady classic that can be inserted into foods of all sizes. If you're just starting out, try the one that comes with the DOT and then see what else you might need—there are options for thinner cuts of meat and sous vide, extra long probes for deep frying, and curved probes to better fit into large cuts of meat (like a whole bird.)
If you have a less-than-reliable oven, though, you may want to consider buying the Air Probe. I'm plagued by a weak rental-apartment oven, and while I love my oven thermometer, I can't read it through the old scratched door. Every time I want to check the temp, I have to open the door—which exactly misses the point of keeping a too-cool oven warm. The Air Probe, which attaches to a grill, oven, or smoker with a grate clip, allows you to adjust your oven temperature in real time, without any heat loss.
What's The Difference Between a DOT and a BlueDOT?
The DOT is the classic probe thermometer—meaning you read it by checking the body of the device, wherever you've attached it. The BlueDOT is bluetooth-enabled, which means you can check the current temperature from anywhere in the house via an app on your phone.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious