Top
Meater Wireless Meat Thermometer Review: A Recipe for Mediocrity – ANITH
fade
155968
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-155968,single-format-standard,eltd-core-1.1.1,flow child-child-ver-1.0.0,flow-ver-1.3.6,eltd-smooth-scroll,eltd-smooth-page-transitions,ajax,eltd-blog-installed,page-template-blog-standard,eltd-header-standard,eltd-fixed-on-scroll,eltd-default-mobile-header,eltd-sticky-up-mobile-header,eltd-dropdown-default,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.0.1,vc_responsive

Meater Wireless Meat Thermometer Review: A Recipe for Mediocrity

Meater Wireless Meat Thermometer Review: A Recipe for Mediocrity

If it was up to me, my ideal grill would be one that could capably cook low and slow and and also be able to turn on the jets for a hard, fast sear. There’d be a nice-sized table next to it and space for my tools. The icing on the cake would be temperature control. For that, I’d want a little base station connected to a two-probe thermometer so I could monitor both the air temperature just above the grill grates and the internal temperature of the meat, with the data from both plotted out on a graph so I could understand what was cooking.

That whole thermometer thing seem a bit too much for you? Consider reconsidering. Thermometers, particularly modern digital thermometers, are the most important grill accessory you can own. Don’t you love fish at the point just past translucence, your pork chop slightly pink in the center, your lamb rosy, and your brisket luscious? The only way to do it all consistently is with a thermometer. Some people say they can poke a steak with a finger and know if it’s done, but I’m not one of them and those people are not always correct. It might sound silly, but I’ve been known to use thermometers on sausages because they taste better when they’re cooked just right. Not only do thermometers save pricey food from an overcooked fate, but you also get compliments when your food is cooked perfectly.

Amazingly, that dream temperature setup I wished for exists, and, in fact, I own it. It’s not quite as slick and isolated as I’d like, but it’s close enough. My $99 ThermoWorks Smoke has two probes at the end of long cables, a large base station with temperature readouts, and a radio frequency remote so you can monitor the temperature of a long cook while you mow the lawn. With the addition of the company’s $89 Smoke Gateway accessory, you can see everything on your phone and get a time-temperature readout for each probe. Weber’s $100 iGrill 2 has similar (though less robust) capabilities, but they are both powerful ways to understand what’s going on inside of your grill or oven, and are essential tools that can help you become a better cook.

Meater

Fresh on the scene is the Meater, a $69 temperature probe that arrives in a tiny bamboo box which is also the charger. While the Smoke and iGrill base stations are attached to the probe with cables, the Meater’s distinguishing innovation is that it’s wireless. It looks like a bespoke, five-inch, stainless-steel blow dart.

It’s pretty easy to guess how it works: the pointy end goes in the meat and it connects via Bluetooth with an app on your phone. What’s pleasantly surprising is that there’s a second temperature sensor at the exposed end that tells you the air temperature just outside of whatever you’re cooking. Tell Meater’s app that you’re grilling a chicken breast, and it can tell you the internal temperature of the chicken and the air temperature inside the grill, then crunch some numbers and predict when the food will be done.

On paper, it’s pretty slick, but I had some reservations. Most notably, there are no physical controls or a base station with temperature readouts à la the Smoke or iGrill 2. While some people don’t mind that connected kitchen devices pass things like controls and readouts entirely to the app, I can’t stand it. App connectivity and embellishments should be a perk, not a requirement for a thermometer’s basic functions; If I’m out back grilling, I want to concentrate on what I’m cooking and/or have a beer with friends, not fiddle around with, or be distracted by, my phone.

That said, I started testing the Meater and it worked pretty well! I made thick pork chops and they came off the grill with that perfect pinkness in the center. The estimated time remaining displayed on the app was pretty helpful, and the app can guide you to pull the meat off just a bit earlier than you might otherwise, allowing the built-up heat in the cut to bring the internal temperature to the finish line, aka “carryover cooking.” My brother-in-law Ben was impressed by those features and as someone who’s used to temperature probes at the end of cables, I liked how maneuverable the meat was without them. Like the iGrill 2 and the Smoke Gateway, the time-temperature charts Meater’s app created were helpful in understanding what was happening as I cooked.

While my ThermoWorks probe can withstand temperatures from -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit, the Meater is much more fragile.

Things went a little sideways, though, when I tried to make brisket. I didn’t have all day—a time commitment many briskets require—but I found a lovely-sounding recipe that called for a wet roast in the style of Michael Ruhlman’s fantastic Thanksgiving turkey. Here, the Meater was of limited use. It was able to monitor only the internal temperature as this brisket cooks under a foil wrap, meaning the temperature under the foil wasn’t representative of the oven temperature. I just ignored the ambient sensor reading.

Cooking this recipe brought up two issues. First, I got a warning message at 209 degrees Fahrenheit saying that the internal temperature of the brisket was “above safe level” and that I should “remove from heat immediately to avoid damaging the product.”

Wait…”safe level” for the meat or for the Meater? Which “product?” Brisket in this style is a long, slow cook that can get hotter than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, perhaps not ideally, but it’s not out of the question, particularly if you’re waiting for the tougher sections of the brisket to become fork tender.

While my ThermoWorks probe can withstand temperatures from -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit, the Meater is much more fragile.

I double-checked with a company rep, asking if the internal probe might break if exposed to temperatures over 212 degrees for more than 10 minutes.

“Correct,” came the response.

Yikes. That’s horribly restricting over the life of a thermometer. At some point, you’re going to mess up, and 212 degrees is an awfully low bar.

Making this meal also showed how restrictive it is to have the ambient probe attached to (and right next to) the internal probe. At first glance, it seemed exceedingly clever—two probes in one!—but in practice the arrangement requires a lot of workarounds.

The Meater team has apparently run into a version of this problem too, referring in its FAQs to the “cool air bubble” around larger pieces of meat in an oven or on the grill. In short, the meat you’re cooking is cooler than the oven it’s cooking in, creating a “bubble” of cool air around it. With a separate probe, this isn’t a problem, but for the Meater—especially for larger cuts with more thermal mass—you’ve gotta figure out probe placement that gets to the core of the meat, but keeps the ambient temperature sensor the recommended two inches from the food.

Plus, if I’m going to use a probe of some sort to tell me the temperature inside my oven or grill, I want to know that information before I put my meat in it; Meater doesn’t offer that possibility.

Fuss! Fuss! Fuss! Undaunted, I cooked a boneless leg of lamb on my grill. I used the low-and-slow method, cooking it over indirect heat until the internal temperature came up to a little past rare, then pulled it off the heat, cranked the grill, let the grates get screaming hot, then seared the meat’s exterior. The process worked pretty well as long as I didn’t stray too far—12 feet and a wall were too far for Meater’s Bluetooth, but the ThermoWorks Smoke’s radio remote had no trouble with this. The lamb was fantastic.

Since we’re here, let’s keep talking about the connection. To connect the app to the probe, you use Bluetooth—which is pretty slick considering how tiny the setup is. If you want a little more range and bought a single probe model (its only product currently on the market), Meater suggests connecting through the cloud by using a second smart device, which you would then leave near your grill or oven. Good grief! Or you could wait for the release of the $269 Meater Block with its four probes and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options. (Considering the Meater’s delay-laden production history, though, you may wish to hold off until the Block is officially on the market.)

Did you keep up with all that connection stuff? It’s a lot to hold in your head. Still sure wireless-ness is that important?

The more I used it, the more the Meater felt like an outlier. It could do some basic functions well and I liked the predictive doneness timer. I also appreciated the time/temperature chart that the app created, but other issues required contortive workarounds. The “two-probes-in-one” idea was fine until it wasn’t, and its value really plummeted when I compared it to what I already had.

Were I to peer into a crystal ball and divine the future of the Meater, I imagine the company will untangle that connectivity thicket or bring the Meater Block’s Wi-Fi functionality to the individual probe. Perhaps the company will be bought by a grill manufacturer looking to expand its capabilities, or one looking to incorporate a thermostat to help keep grill temps steady. That would be lovely.

Until then, though, the occasional tangle of ThermoWorks or iGrill cables isn’t a problem big enough to need a solution. Really, it might not be a problem at all.

Food writer Joe Ray (@joe_diner) is a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of The Year, a restaurant critic, and author of “Sea and Smoke” with chef Blaine Wetzel.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Source link

Anith Gopal
No Comments

Post a Comment

five × 2 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.