Let’s face it, working with larger pieces of meat can be intimidating. Whether it’s the shear size of the cut, the investment in time and preparation or the fear of failure, some of us have taken roasts off the menu and put them on the back burner. Roasts are being replaced by the more navigable steak, chicken breast and pork chop; cuts that are less expensive, we’re more comfortable with and are easier to temp.
That being said, turkeys, rib roasts and melt-in-your-mouth pork shoulders don’t have to be a burden. It’s simply a matter of learning how to negotiate the meat and collect accurate temperatures. If you can do that, you’ve already won half the battle.
When temping these larger cuts it’s important to find their center. Judging a roast by the temperatures of the layers closer to the surface can put you in the awkward position of serving a savory outside and an undercooked middle. It’s only when you find the center that you’ll be able to properly gauge its overall doneness and make the decision to pull it out of the oven.
The question is, with a cut that can easily be thicker than the length of your thermometer probe, how do you find the center?
The Super-Fast® Thermapen® is the perfect tool to help you make the journey to the center of the roast. It’s speed and accuracy will give you “real-time” temperature readings, and its micro thermocouple design will ensure that the temperatures you’re getting are – in fact – being read from the tip of the probe and not an inch or two up the shaft like other models.
By sliding the Thermapen’s probe into the thickest part of the roast towards the center you’ll immediately begin to see that the meat is not the same temperature throughout. The temperature will get lower as you approach the center and higher again as you pass through the center towards the opposite surface. This is a reflection of the roasting process where the middle of the roast is insulated by the outer layers and cooks at a slower rate.
As you come back through the center of the roast, the temperature will change again – lower, then higher as you get closer to the surface. Finding the position where the temperature is at its lowest will indicate that you’ve found thermal center. Consult a temperature chart to ensure that the center is cooked to your preference. However, be mindful that the temp will continue to rise during the rest.
Temperature – more than time and color – is a key indicator of whether or not a roast is ready. Getting your hands on a fast and accurate thermometer – like the Super-Fast Thermapen – will help table your trepidation and give you the confidence you need to roast with reckless abandon.