Nov
28
2011

  Those Pop-Up Thermometers Work!

I don't usually roast birds with pop-up thermometers, but the turkey I cooked for Thanksgiving had one. Because I don't use them, I didn't know whether they were trustworthy or not. I suspected they might not pop up until the bird is overcooked, in order to avoid samonella lawsuits or something.

I had an in-the-meat thermometer stuck into the turkey thigh which I was using to know when it was done cooking. The range we learned in cooking school was to cook the thigh to 170F and the breast meat will be moist and juicy but the thigh slightly undercooked and pink, or cook the thigh to 180F at which point it will be perfect but the breast meat will be overcooked.

So I stop cooking when the thigh temperature hits 175F and thus split the difference. When my thermometer registered that temperature (shortly after 2 hours in the oven) I took it out, and then checked the temp of the breast meat with my instant-read thermometer. It was 180F exactly, and just what I wanted. The built-in pop-up thermometer had not yet popped.

While I was discussing the different temperatures and my personal preference and skepticism about the pop-up-thermometer with my sister-in-law, the thing popped up while we were standing there talking about it. So now I know that the thing does pop up at the correct temperature. Well, it pops up when the meat reaches the correct final temperature, but doesn't seem to account for the fact that meat continues to cook once you take it out of the oven. I take that into consideration.

I will probably continue to use my own method for monitoring poultry doneness, but now I know that if I ever DO see the gizmo pop up out of the bird that I should take it out immediately. And that when I take the bird out myself, I should probably let it rest until the thing pops out, since then the breast meat will be done.