Throw Away a Useless Pop-up Thermometer From Turkey

Knowing when a turkey is “ready” is the most unsettling part of cooking a turkey. You don’t want to poison anyone with food, but you don’t want to serve dry, stringy meat (and shame) to your friends and family. A thermometer is a must, but the little plastic “turkey timer” that gets stuck in your bird should be thrown straight into the bin.

If you’ve been cooking a turkey for a while, you’re probably already aware of this, but first-time roast birders might be tempted to rely on the built-in temperature indicator. The problem is, it sucks. It’s garbage. This is not your friend.

However, this is a nifty little technology; just miscalibrated. According to Cook’s Illustrated , it’s not that it doesn’t work, it just works at too high a temperature:

A harmless compound with a known melting point is liquefied at the bottom of the timer. The spring is pressed into the molten material as it cools and solidifies. The timer is then inserted into the thickest part of the chest. When the material at the bottom of the timer melts again during cooking, the spring is free to expand and the plastic rod comes out. Most of these timers are calibrated to “splash” at 178 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature chosen to ensure that legs that take longer to cook than breasts are fully cooked.

As we said before , the turkey is a thermodynamic nightmare. It is bulky and bulky, and dark and light meats (ideally) should be cooked at two different temperatures. I cook the breast to 155℉ (it will rise another five degrees while resting) and the legs to 175-180℉ (or as hot as I can get them without overcooking the white meat). So it doesn’t make sense to set a timer that jumps 178℉ into the beast’s chest. Your turkey will be safe, but incredibly unpleasant to eat.

Instead, ditch the damn thing and get an instant read digital thermometer or probe thermometer . I have one with multiple sensors so I can measure both parts of the bird at the same time (and it’s bluetooth enabled so I can check it right from my phone). This, combined with turning or completely breaking up the bird before frying, ensures that your turkey comes out safe and tasty.


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