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How to use a meat thermometer?

classacts | Oct 10, 2009 10:04 PM

Hello, I purchased a meat thermometer which is the type with a round face about 2 inches in diameter similar to this one: http://bit.ly/GTq56

I first used it when cooking chicken legs in the oven and I can't tell you how amazing the chicken was! It seems I had been WAY overcooking it before - it was dry like cardboard. I forget the proper poultry off-hand, but I took the chicken out exactly when it reached that point.

A few days later, I cooked more legs and breasts but found that the readings weren't accurate: It read the target temp while still baking when I inserted it, then I pulled it out started eating the chicken and checked the temp again and it was way too low - around 130 or something. I got scared and put the chicken back in for another 10 minutes - which made it into cardboard again.

I can't really tell if the chicken is done or not and I absolutely don't want to get food poisoning from it. The first time I remember it was REALLY juice, I mean the chicken basically in a puddle of it's own juice and me and my friend ate it without trouble. The second time I guess it looked the same - juices seemed to be clear, maybe a bit bloody, I can't tell.

So for these types of thermometers, how should you use them so you can trust their readings? I already know where to stick them, but do you think it's because it was touching the bone that it was reading incorrectly? Or perhaps it was because it was touching/too close to the baking sheet that it read too high? Can I just leave the thermometer inside the chicken leg/steak/etc while it's in the oven? Or will that cause the air temp to affect the reading? Or should I play it safe and remove the meat from the baking sheet, onto a plate and then stick the thermometer in? Perhaps I should buy an instant read digital one instead?

Any insight is appreciated, I'm really excited about being able to pull meat out at the exact time it's done - I swear it tastes 10X better!

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