“The backyard kitchen is built on myths. AmazingRibs.com specializes in myth busting and teaching the fundamental facts you need to know to be a great outdoor cook.” – Meathead
The following was lifted from the pages of AmazingRibs.com:
Myth #3: Thermometers are for sissies
I don’t care what the TV chef said, you cannot tell anything about the temp of a grill is by holding your hand over the grate and counting “1001, 1002, 1003″ until your palm bursts into flame. Each of us reacts differently to heat, and the heat 1″ above the grate can be significantly different than 6” above. Maybe an old pro who cooks 100 steaks a night can do this parlor trick, but you cannot.
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Likewise, you may have also heard that you can tell the doneness of a steak by poking it and comparing the bounciness of the meat to the tip of your nose or the flesh between your thumb and forefinger.
As if everyone’s hand has the same firmness and bounciness! As if a filet mignon has the same firmness and bounciness of a sirloin! Lookit, almost all professional chefs carry a meat thermometer in their chef’s coat. There’s a reason.
Finally, you cannot rely on popup thermometers in turkeys, and most dial thermometers built into grills are waaaaay off, often 50°F, and the temp in the dome is different than the temp on the cooking surface.