Don’t Forget the Giveaway
Before we get all nerdy about thermometers and smoked chicken, don’t forget to enter our giveaway of the great new cookbook Millennial Kosher by Chani Apfelbaum of the great blog Busy In Brooklyn. It is coming to an end soon. The details are at the end of this post.
Do These Thermometers Measure Up?
When making a roasted or smoked chicken, a thermometer is probably one of the most important kitchen tools you can have. Actually, a good thermometer is probably one of the best tools to have in the kitchen period. Generally I stick to digital models, as I find analog ones slow and imprecise.
There are many styles of thermometers but the two most common are what is often referred to as the instant read (that looks like a switch blade) and probe style. At the International Home + Housewares Show I has a great chat with the fine folks at ThermoPro* who sent me three thermometers to review. I will review them from three standpoints: accuracy, ease of use, and overall quality for the price, with a score of 1-5, five being the highest.
The TP-03 is an instant read style thermometer that runs $11.79 on Amazon. It seems fairly accurate and only a hair slower when compared to my Thermowroks Thermopen that sells for of six times as much. It is fairly easy to use, with a button to pop out the probe and an on/off button on the front, and a button to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius on the back. Included in the package was a battery, which is always nice.
I do have to say that build quality does seem to be a bit low on this one, but for less than $12, what do you expect. There is a bit of play on the rotating joint that swings the probe out. Also, when not in use the probe rests in a slot on the of the body of the thermometer the feels like it would be a magnet for food particles and bacteria.
Ease of Use: 5
Overall quality for the price: 3
The TP-17 is a dual probe style thermometer which is great if you are trying to cook multiple things at once or if you want to use one probe to measure your meat temperature and one one for the air temperature of your oven or smoker. This unit does have a separate mode for measuring the air temperature inside of your oven or grill so you get a bit more accurate of a reading, although it uses the same style probe for meat and air temperatures which surprised me. Many other manufactures use a different style probe for air temperature. While it is nice that they for this unit you can use one style probe I am concerned that it may affect accuracy.
Another feature I like about this until is the fact that it has alarms for a both high and low temperatures. This is great for those of you using charcoal or wood smokers. I did find the control interface a bit clunky and I wish the upper bounds on the temperature range the unit can handle was bit higher for high heat grilling, but overall a decent buy for $25.
Ease of Use: 3
Overall quality for the price: 4
The TP-20 Digital Wireless Meat Thermometer has a solid and comfortable feel. It has a specific mode to measure oven/smoker/barbecue air temperature using their standard probe and a high/low alarm similar to the TP-17 (see above).
The wireless functionality works well. I was able to easy get a signal in the front of my house, over 40 feet from the smoker. At $53 it is on higher end of the cost scale for mid grade thermometer.
Ease of Use: 4
Overall quality for the price: 3
Overall I think the TheroPro line is a great budget buy. While I love my Thermapen by ThermoWorks it is significantly more expensive than the TP-03. I have used several other mid to low cost probe style thermometers over the years and the TP-17 and TP-20 work at least as well, if not better, than most of them.
I don’t currently own a high end probe style thermometer, like the ThermoWorks Smoke, so I can’t really tell you if it is worth paying the extra money. That being said, my birthday is coming up, and if you want send me a present I would be happy to review it for you :).
Nobody Calls Me Chicken
Now on to the food! I consider smoked chicken the gateway drug of smoked meats. Chicken is fairly cheap and cooks fairly quickly. Now quickly is a relative term, we are still probably talking close to three hours at 250°F which is a lot shorter than a brisket that takes somewhere around ten hours. That being said, for chicken you should be more concerned with temperature than time. The USDA recommends chicken be cooked to 165°F, but I generally pull my chicken out at 160°F, as it continues to cook even after you take it out and should hit 165°F. This is known as carryover cooking.
Smoked Chicken Recipe
A super flavorful and easy smoked chicken recipe. I call for spatchcocking the chicken to help it cook more evenly. Standard oven instructions are also included.
- 1 Whole Chicken
- 1 Stick Unsalted Margarine or butter if you don't keep kosher
- Granulated Garlic
- Granulated Onion
- Paprika smoked if you have it
- Ground Sage
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1 Smoker
- 12 Chunks Apple Wood or the equivalent volume of wood chips if that is what your smoker takes
- Charcoal/Wood/Propane/Electricity to power your smoker
Remove your butter or margarine from the refrigerator and let it soften for about a half hour. Slice the margarine into pats and add to a large mixing bowl along with the granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, and ground sage.
Using a stiff spatula or a large wooden spoon mix until the spices are completely integrated.
Using a heavy chef's knife or a pair of poultry shears, remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting down both sides, leaving as much of rib bones intact as possible. This is known as spatchcocking.
Turn the chicken over and press down on the breast to flatten it out.
Loosen the skin on the breast and thigh by sliding your finger between it and the meat.
Insert as much of the compound butter between the meat and skin as you can, pressing down on the skin to spread out the butter.
Season the outside of the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper to taste.
Fire up your smoker to about 250°F and add about a third of your wood. Add additional wood about every hour.
Cook your chicken on the rack until it reaches 160°F in the center of the breast. This will take roughly 3 hours but keep an eye on it. Ideally use a wireless probe thermometer that will let you know once you have hit your desired temperature.
Remove from the chicken from the smoker, allow to rest for 15 minutes, cut in to quarters, and serve immediately
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Cook your chicken on a foil lined sheet pan until it reaches 160°F in the center of the breast. Roughly 1 hour but keep an eye on it. Ideally use a wireless probe thermometer that will let you know once you have hit your desired temperature.
Remove from the chicken from the oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes, Cut into quarters, and serve immediately
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*While we did not receive any direct compensation for this review, I was provided the thermometers free of charge by ThermoPro. ThermoPro also donated 10 thermometers to the Chicago Kosher BBQ Competition which we helped organize. We also receive compensation if you purchase any of the above items via the links to Amazon provided.