I was driving up north and listening to a very heated debate on the radio about cooking chicken and how chicken can kill us because of the ever-increasing list of bacteria and salmonella in factory raised chicken.
The solution is to make sure your chicken, in fact all poultry, is cooked properly and the conversation went on to explain how chicken should be cooked. Lots of advice was given (one of the radio guests was a vegetarian giving advice on cooking meat which I found amusing), however at this point I was shouting at my radio “Cook using temperature!”
We’ve all grown up with cook books and recipes and we are always told cook at a certain temperature for a certain length of time, this is how most of us learned to cook. However, an outdoor cook mustn’t cook by these rules, we simply can’t.
Think about all the different types of BBQs and outdoor ovens – there is simply no way that you can suggest one recipe timing for each piece of kit. There is a world of difference between a ceramic BBQ, gas BBQ, hot smoker and a metal kettle BBQ and that’s before you take into account the weather conditions. So the solution is simply – cook by temperature. You know your food is cooked when it reaches a minimum temperature and then it’s a case of how well done you like your food cooked. It’s so much safer and much easier to cook your food to your exact requirements. All you need to do is learn your cooking temperatures.
This is why every cook/chef should have a thermometer for indoor and outdoor cooking. It’s a must have.
Chicken cooked temperature is 74 degrees centigrade. Push the probe into the fleshiest part of your chicken, not against the bone, then repeat on the other side and your display will show the temperature in seconds. How easy and safe is that?
Cooking by temperature is not just about chicken, it’s an easy way to check that any of your meat, fish, breads and all your baking is done to perfection.
So, my advise is to buy yourself a quality thermometer probe and use it for all your cooking. I simply couldn’t cook without one.
There are so many thermometers out there but personally my favourites are from ETI, they supply thermometers to chefs and the catering industry, so quality is assured. Prices range from £20 to over £100+ but for a great entry level thermometer I recommend the Thermapen (see above photo) – it’s also great for reading air temperature as you can see in the photo from a very hot day!
There are so many temperature cooking charts out there but this one, again from ETI, works for me: