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Thermapen questions/gripesl

Got my thermapen in the mail the other evening and immediately put it to work on a couple of steaks.

Now, let me start off by saying this...I like it when things are simplistic. I like when unnecessary bells and whistles are eliminated. The thermapen does exactly that, but IMO it does it to a fault.

I put my steaks on the BGE until it was time to turn them and check them with my new thermapen. It was then that I fully realized that it wasn't backlit, so I couldn't read the temp at all in my dimly lit cooking space. I quickly deducted that I would have to use one hand to hold the thermapen and the other to shine a flashlight on it if it was dark out so I could read the temp. A person who spends $100 on a meat thermometer shouldn't have to do this. My crappy old $12 thermometer at least had a "hold" button you could push to lock the temp on the screen so you could pull it out and read it. A backlit display should be standard for something like this...after all, it's not 1988 anymore.

That's my only gripe. I was very impressed with how fast it gauged temps and also with how heavy and sturdy it felt in my hand. It worked so good in guaging temps that I feel that I need a little guidance on how to use it!

I flipped my flank steak over and started poking and prodding like there was no tomorrow and kept getting WILDLY different temps. It unnerved me and made me anxious enough to pull the steak early in order to avoid burning it. Well, the steak ended up being barely medium-rare when I was expecting (from the readings I was getting) it to be at least medium or medium-well.

Now, I realize that there is a learning curve and that I need to become privy to it....that's why I made this thread. Can someone please give me some pointers on the right way to use this thing? I don't think it will be much of a problem on slow cook things like brisket, but how do I best utilize it on more time-sensitive things like seared steaks?

I bought this thing because I read NOTHING but positive reviews on it. I'm frankly surprised that nobody (that I saw) mentioned the glaring lack of a readable display at night. It's such a glaringly obvious shortcoming. It disappoints me, but If I can utilize the strengths, I can look past the negative.

Any feedback is appreciated.
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Comments

  • And please forgive my stupidity. I would have cooked the steaks fine on instinct without the thermapen, but decided to forego that and rely on only temperature so I could possibly add another dimension to my cooking with this new and expensive tool. I have a feeling that when I master it, it will indeed add a third dimension to my wares.
  • Thermapens are very accurate, that's the issue here. The wildly different temps you note are real, all depends on where the tip is, for steaks always insert from the side, not the top. Gives a much better reading. Funny. I went through the same learning curve until I realized my old thermo was giving me temps that were close but not very accurate. 
    How did you cook the steaks? By the sound of it, you used high heat, resulting in temps that could vary by as much as 40ºF from the outside edge to the center. Reverse sear will solve that. 
    There is a backlit model, guess you did not order it.  good Luck!
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • I used semi-high heat. It was around 500º if I remember.

    Backlit model? Do you know if I could possibly return this one for one of those?
  • U_tardedU_tarded Posts: 1,153
    agree with skiddy.  call them about an exchange they are pretty legit, I know they have replaced a few people with defects (i.e. left out in rain/sun) without a hassle.  they should make it right i think the backlight is a touch more money.
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    I had the same problem with a set of mechanics tools. I had a car problem, bought the tools, and the problem still exists.  I don't get where they can advertise a product as "professional" and yet it doesn't do the work for me.  

    My passenger side door still doesn't open.  Even IN daylight.  Sheesh.
  • ^^^ So I was expecting it to "do the work for me"?

    Yeah....ok!
    image
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,571
    edited November 2013
    I would have to agree that they really shouldn't bother offering a backlit model for more money.  They should just make it standard.  I mean...c'mon...what does that little led cost?  25...maybe 50 cents?   

    As far as the readings I went through the same learning curve. If you probe different areas of the meat you will get different readings.  After checking the thermapen in boiling water I have come to trust that it is telling me the truth and the meat is just different temps.  Just do your best to get it in the middle part of the meat.  

    On a side note, if you can't exchange it I find a camping headlight works great for cooking in the dark.  There is always light where you are looking :)


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  • I'm thinking about buying one of those stupid looking hats with the built in lights on the bill of it.
    Nowhere Indiana
  • I'm thinking about buying one of those stupid looking hats with the built in lights on the bill of it.
    Dude. I agree and have a couple laying around the house. Those things are great at home and also great for fishing at night or working on the motorcycles in the garage.
    Dave - Austin, TX
  • LitLit Posts: 2,454
    Costco has a 3 pack of the head lanterns for $9.99. They went on sale for $7.99 a month or 2 ago and I got 3 more. Not sure how many I have laying around here. They work great.
  • Just do it the ol  fashion way ! Hold the flashlight in your mouth
    Jefferson .GA.  
    Been egging since 1985 on a medium egg
  • krameskrames Posts: 52
    I felt the same way when I got mine! The best I can tell you is that it is fast and accurate and different parts of the meat tend to have different temperatures. I would suggest making sure you check a couple different spots in the middle of the meat (I always stick mine through the sides of the meat). Once the meat is within 20 degrees, I start taking temps every minute or so. Once its within 5 degrees of your target temp pull it. It still does take some practice to get the feel of it.
  • flank steaks are tapered so you will get different temperatures in different spots. The readings will be more stable with a non tapered steak like a ribeye or a strip. If you were poking it all over, you should have gotten wildly different readings. It's also very thin so it's very easy to push it too far through if you are going through the top. 1/16 of an inch makes a huge difference in a thin tapered steak like a flank. Like skiddy said, go in through the side- especially on thin cuts like flank. you will still get different readings in different parts on a tapered cut like this but you will get an accurate reading of the center of that part of the steak. The only way to get it cooked perfectly from tip to tail on a steak like this is to cook it Sous Vide (in a temp controlled water bath in a sealed bag)

  • LitLit Posts: 2,454
    Mine only works when opened up to certain angles. Doesn't turn on when fully extended or most of the time for that matter. Need to send it back for them to look at.
  • Thanks for the comments!

    I'm doing a brisket today so that should be a much better cut to practice on.
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,571
    Lit said:
    Mine only works when opened up to certain angles. Doesn't turn on when fully extended or most of the time for that matter. Need to send it back for them to look at.
    @Lit mine does the exact same thing.  It was driving me crazy but I sort of figured out that if I open it a little past where I want it and then close it back it will come on.  Still a little aggravating and one of these days I will send it back.  


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  •  

     A backlit display should be standard for something like this...after all, it's not 1988 anymore.
    Dude, get yourself some floodlights...after all, it's not 1898 anymore.  
    =))

    Connect:  Website  -  Facebook  -  Twitter

  • SickEyeDiazSickEyeDiaz Posts: 147
    edited November 2013

     

     A backlit display should be standard for something like this...after all, it's not 1988 anymore.
    Dude, get yourself some floodlights...after all, it's not 1898 anymore.  
    =))


    Can't afford them...spent too much on my thermapen!  :((
  • warwomanwarwoman Posts: 186

    Somebody offered $50 for it if you weren't satisfied............I'll give you $55!

    All kidding aside, when you realized it wouldn't "do the work for you", you took a giant step in your cooking life, especially with the egg! After all, it's only a tool to give you information. Case in point, I was talking to a lady from Austin yesterday (I was working on decorating her second home in the mountains of North Carolina), and we got around to "Eggs". She said when they first got it, all her friends told her the best way to cook a brisket was to "throw it on and forget about it".Well, they did,and went shopping in the hill country for half a day, and came back to a stone cold piece of meat. Nobody told them that you needed to understand how to regulate the heat. They learned that there is a learning curve for cooking on it. The thermapen is a great learning tool when you couple it with the super advice you get on here. This forum is worth it's weight in gold.

    Heck, I'll even give you $60 for it!!!!! Hah!

    From the Georgia Mountains!
  • $65... And I'll throw in some cheese with that wine :D
  • allsidallsid Posts: 323
    I have the TP and also the probe which has bluetooth and can sync with my phone.  I had really hoped to be able to monitor my reverse sear, or whatever from inside my house (40 feet away) and the thing has never once completed a cook without failing.  By fail, I mean it disconnects from the bluetooth sync and I need to restart phone & unit.  My probe to monitor food broke on the third use with the wiring just coming un sheathed and the solder failing causing a separation.  

    The crummy thing is that when I called TP I got a MAJOR run around on it.  I spoke with a tech and he told me I had to send it back at my expense for them to test it for a couple weeks and they would determine if it had a malfunction or not.  He then told me if it did (I told him I wanted a simpler unit) I would have to pay a re-stocking fee for my defective unit to be returned.  

    Yep- they make a precision device.  I cannot take that away.  Both my TP and my mini TP seem to work fine and my friends love when I bust out the mini TP.  For what I paid for this thing (about $260) I should have got a much less fancy one, a bunch of lump, some meat, and a bottle of brown liquid.  IMO the company gets very low marks for customer service.
  • HNLHNL Posts: 31
    I'm thinking about buying one of those stupid looking hats with the built in lights on the bill of it.
    I have one of those Petzl headlamps - essential for night Egging.
  • twlangantwlangan Posts: 285
    I'll up the bid to $66.

    If I recall correctly, the unit reads out in tenths of a degree. Mine was jumping around wildly too. Under the battery cover there are some switches or something that can be set to customize the read-out. I shut the 1/10's off so it only reads out in full degrees. Makes the temp read-out appear much more stable. Try that. Owners manual will show you where and how to change it. IMO there is no need to tenths of a degree for the type of use we are using these things for.
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,669
    edited November 2013
    I once saw a rookie food sample provider at Costco tried taking food temp by piercing the meat like a kebab, lol  :D
    Vaughan, ON, Canada

  • Easy there SickEyeDiaz, you may be accused of inflicting unfair punishment on Thermoworks for giving a negative opinion about their product.


    Flowery Branch, GA  LBGE
  • Easy there SickEyeDiaz, you may be accused of inflicting unfair punishment on Thermoworks for giving a negative opinion about their product.


    Yeah I figured there would be a little backlash! It's a great product, I just wish the display was visible in the dark without external light...
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,571
    Maybe you could see it better if you had that eye checked out. Just kidding!  


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  • HoovHoov Posts: 234
    I just got a thermapen, it has a backlight. No complaints here.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • I've had the original for a couple of years but have the same issue. I'm thinking of ordering the backlit model and using the old one in the house. We use it for much more than just egging
    LBGE
    Go Dawgs! - Marietta, GA
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