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November 19, 2017 |

Archive for » November 19th, 2017«

Increase kitchen efficiency with ease

As the holiday season approaches and the calendar begins to populate, it’s important not to allow the stress of entertaining large groups to become a burden. Below are four tips to help organize a kitchen and host with ease, creating a functional space for family and friends to enjoy.

Plan in advance

Set aside time early in the week to plan the menu, from simple appetizers to the main entree. Grocery shopping apps, like AnyList, allow the whole family to share and build lists together – which can help avoid any last-minute trips to the grocery store. Also, try to identify dishes that can be prepared in advance so more time can be spent away from the kitchen when guests arrive.

Maximize storage and counter space

Optimize counter space by designing small stations for easy access to the necessities. A coffee bar “nook” complete with Keurig cups and mugs can help kick-start a busy day. Storage near the fridge should be stocked with foil and containers, ideal for packing up leftovers after a large party. Reserve the island counter for meal prep and the cabinets below for serving ware and glassware storage.

Keep all staples in arm’s reach

Cooking can be made simple by organizing the essentials. Keep similar tools together, such as bakeware and cookie sheets in one drawer, and pantry staples in another. Spices and herbs should be alphabetized and stored near the stovetop to effortlessly add flavor. For those with design in mind, opt for open shelves to showcase dishes and small kitchen accessories, such as succulents and cookbooks, while keeping everything within reach.

Simplify kitchen cleanup

Cleaning is often the most time-intensive chore in the kitchen, but if designed right, can be a breeze for home entertainers and kids alike. The Delta Foundry Kitchen Faucet complete with ShieldSpray Technology, available at the Home Depot, offers laser-like precision to contain splatter, meaning less soaking, scrubbing and shirt swapping.

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Learn to Spot the Sneaky Psychological Tricks Restaurants Use

At many Thanksgiving tables, the annual roast turkey is just a vehicle for buttery mash and creamy gravy. But for those who prefer their bird be a main course that can stand on its own without accoutrements, brining is an essential prep step—despite the fact that they have to find enough room in their fridges to immerse a 20-pound animal in gallons of salt water for days on end. To legions of brining believers, the resulting moist bird is worth the trouble.

How, exactly, does a salty soak yield juicy meat? And what about all the claims from a contingency of dry brine enthusiasts: Will merely rubbing your bird with salt give better results than a wet plunge? For a look at the science behind each process, we tracked down a couple of experts.

First, it’s helpful to know why a cooked turkey might turn out dry to begin with. As David Yanisko, a culinary arts professor at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, tells Mental Floss, “Meat is basically made of bundles of muscle fibers wrapped in more muscle fibers. As they cook, they squeeze together and force moisture out,” as if you were wringing a wet sock. Hence the incredibly simple equation: less moisture means more dryness. And since the converse is also true, this is where brining comes in.

Your basic brine consists of salt dissolved in water. How much salt doesn’t much matter for the moistening process; its quantity only makes your meat and drippings more or less salty. When you immerse your turkey in brine—Ryan Cox, an animal science professor at the University of Minnesota, quaintly calls it a “pickling cover”—you start a process called diffusion. In diffusion, salt moves from the place of its highest concentration to the place where it’s less concentrated: from the brine into the turkey.

Salt is an ionic compound; that is, its sodium molecules have a positive charge and its chloride molecules have a negative charge, but they stick together anyway. As the brine penetrates the bird, those salt molecules meet both positively and negatively charged protein molecules in the meat, causing the meat proteins to scatter. Their rearrangement “makes more space between the muscle fibers,” Cox tells Mental Floss. “That gives us a broader, more open sponge for water to move into.”

The salt also dissolves some of the proteins, which, according to the book Cook’s Science by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, creates “a gel that can hold onto even more water.” Juiciness, here we come!

There’s a catch, though. Brined turkey may be moist, but it can also taste bland—infusing it with salt water is still introducing, well, water, which is a serious flavor diluter. This is where we cue the dry briners. They claim that using salt without water both adds moisture and enhances flavor: win-win.

In dry brining, you rub the surface of the turkey with salt and let it sit in a cold place for a few days. Some salt penetrates the meat as it sits—with both dry and wet brining, Cox says this happens at a rate of about 1 inch per week. But in this process, the salt is effective mostly because of osmosis, and that magic occurs in the oven.

“As the turkey cooks, the [contracting] proteins force the liquid out—what would normally be your pan drippings,” Yanisko says. The liquid mixes with the salt, both get absorbed or reabsorbed into the turkey and, just as with wet brining, the salt disperses the proteins to make more room for the liquid. Only, this time the liquid is meat juices instead of water. Moistness and flavor ensue.

Still, Yanisko admits that he personally sticks with wet brining—”It’s tradition!” His recommended ratio of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (which has no added iodine to gunk up the taste) to 1 gallon of water gives off pan drippings too salty for gravy, though, so he makes that separately. Cox also prefers wet brining, but he supplements it with the advanced, expert’s addition of injecting some of the solution right into the turkey for what he calls “good dispersal.” He likes to use 1-1/2 percent of salt per weight of the bird (the ratio of salt to water doesn’t matter), which he says won’t overpower the delicate turkey flavor.

Both pros also say tossing some sugar into your brine can help balance flavors—but don’t bother with other spices. “Salt and sugar are water soluble,” Cox says. “Things like pepper are fat soluble so they won’t dissolve in water,” meaning their taste will be lost.

But no matter which bird or what method you choose, make sure you don’t roast past an internal temperature of 165˚F. Because no brine can save an overcooked turkey.

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Your Guide to Hosting the Best Holiday Party Ever

It’s that time again, you guys. Time to dust off those Martha Stewart-style hosting skills and start planning those epic holiday get-togethers. But we all know it takes a village to create an amazing feast, so today we’re teaming up with Nambé to bring you a guide on holiday essentials that will really take your party to the next level. Prepare to wow your friends and family with our tips + fave products below.

In our households, an awesome party always starts with the perfect tablescape, and our friends at Nambé truly have you covered with their POP Dinnerware Collection. We’re obsessed with their choice of neutral colors (Ocean, Sand, Slate and Chalk), because they go so well with any and all holiday decor – and really make a statement when paired with the POP Colours accent plates in Citron, Persimmon, Chocolate and Ocean. But what we’re really loving is just how durable the POP Dinnerware Collection is. Because, honestly? Holiday dining is always a little crazy, and the stoneware holds up to pretty much anything, plus it’s dishwasher and microwave safe, which makes clean up a breeze. I mean, no one wants to be polishing the fine china post-dinner when they could be having a nightcap with their friends and family. Amiright?

We’ve always been obsessed with Nambé for its clean and modern approach to dining – their commitment to designing beautiful and artistic pieces is such a bonus when it comes to creating the perfect tablescape. And their new lineup of whimsical ornaments? A definite must-have. Because nothing says “awesome hostess” quite like a favor that all of your guests will love – it’s the best way ever to send your nearest and dearest off for the evening… after that aforementioned nightcap.

For everything you’ll ever need for the ultimate holiday party, visit Nambé to stock up on all of the beautiful essentials, from serveware to flatware to everything in between. Then be sure to enter their amazing giveaway below. Happy holidays!

What: Nambé is giving one lucky reader four (4) POP 4-Piece Place Settings in the color of their choosing! (Value $240)

How: To enter, simply head to Nambé and leave us a comment below letting us know which POP Dinnerware Collection piece is your favorite!

Who: One lucky reader, chosen completely at random, will be chosen on Friday, December 15th, 2017.

Official Rules:Click Here

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Curious Nature: 5 tips to make your Thanksgiving get-together more eco-friendly (column)

Thanksgiving is a holiday near and dear to my heart — full of traditions, food and family. I have always loved to help my family with preparations, especially while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Fall is also my favorite season. I love the colors, the weather and, most of all, the foods that are in season. With all the preparation that goes into orchestrating the perfect Thanksgiving meal, I’m sure the last thing on everyone’s mind is how to make their meal more sustainable, but it’s really not that hard, and it can make a big difference in the overall impact of your holiday meal.

The following list outlines my top-five tips for a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving meal.

1. Know your guests: Make sure to keep in mind your guests’ dietary requirements so you can plan a meal that your guests will be able to eat. Be sure to check in with your guests to know what allergies, restrictions and diets everyone is eating. This will ensure that you create less food waste on the big day and make your grocery shopping and menu planning much easier.

2. Plan your meal: Once you know what you’re working with when it comes to guests, create a shopping list. While doing your prep work, be sure to keep in mind where you will be getting all of your food. Sure, turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, but is there a more sustainable source from which you can get your turkey and other staples?

Shopping local and organic as much as possible can make a difference when planning such a large meal and can even be more cost effective. You could also consider going meatless on the big day, but if this is too much for you, you could also go meatless the day before to reduce your planetary impact.

3. Cleaning and decor: everyone likes a festive, well-decorated house in which to spend their Thanksgiving. This year, try to stick to reusable dinnerware such as cloth napkins. Try to choose decor that is reusable, organic or secondhand. Instead of your traditional fall wreath, you could get a living succulent wreath and dress it up for each season and holiday. And, of course, store reusable items properly for use in the future.

4. Be mindful of your leftovers: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans waste about 133 billion pounds of food per year. Try to make it your goal this Thanksgiving to lessen your waste by using leftovers, composting and recycling.

You can use your leftovers for future lunches or dinners or even soup from some of the meat and vegetable scraps. You can also compost anything that might not be worth saving and recycle items that you might otherwise throw away, such as broken decorations, boxes or bags used for transporting food and even non-reusable dinnerware, in some cases.

5. Get outside: This is definitely the most fun tip. Take some time this Thanksgiving holiday to reconnect with nature. The beautiful, crisp fall weather is perfect for hiking and, if there’s snow, even some skiing. Give thanks to Mother Nature for the food she provides during a long walk or hike outside in the fresh air.

I hope these five tips can help you to have a more fun, challenging and eco-friendly holiday this year.

Addie Snyder was a naturalist this summer at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon. Addie is a Pennsylvania native, nature nerd and self-proclaimed “foodie.”

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Disney Teamed Up With Le Creuset For This Snow White-Themed Cookware, and OMG

Disney has teamed up with cookware brand Le Creuset to bring some Snow White-inspired magic to your kitchen. The adorable Le Creuset apple-shaped cocottes (a fancy word for a dutch oven) are a part of a holiday collaboration between Saks Fifth Avenue and Disney to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and they’re probably the cutest pots we’ve ever seen!

There are two items up for grabs: a large cast-iron apple cocotte that comes with a gold Snow White charm and a tea towel for $230, and a smaller stoneware cocotte that comes with the same accessories for $55. Both will be available to buy starting on Nov. 17 at Saks and on Le Creuset’s site, so if you have a serious Snow White-lover in your life, this is the perfect holiday gift. And if you happen to be the most serious Snow White fan around, you’ll want to head to Saks in NYC, because the beloved department store is going to theme its windows after the famous Disney fairy tale!

We thought the Beauty and the Beast Le Creuset collection was cute, but we’re straight-up swooning over this one. Decide for yourself if you’re tempted enough to buy this and make your kitchen the fairest of them all.

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Chef behind The American Table shares gift ideas – News



A Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Care Kit, and two Lodge cast iron skillets, are available at shop.lodgemfg.com.
Richard Drew — The Associated Press




This holiday season’s gift guide contains a book by a real-life hero chef who built an empire by valuing his busboys, a set of nifty ceramic stoneware oyster shells, atasty tequila and “the last knife you ever buy.”

BOOKS FOR THE COOK WHO LIKES TO READ

“L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home”

By David Lebovitz (Crown, $27)

It’s easy to think that David Lebobvitz is living a dream life. Cooking, writing about food, giving chocolate tours and living in Paris. But that old saying, ‘nothing worth having is easy.’ comes to mind when you read his latest book. It’s a memoir about buying and renovating his Paris home. If you ever dreamed of having an apartment in Paris, this book is required reading. As horrible as parts of it must have been to live though, David tells the bittersweet tale with a sense of humor, insight into the French culture, and memories of delicious and unexpected recipes like how to make Croissants aux Amandes (almond croissants) at home (spoiler alert: they are made from day-old croissants — who knew?). But the best thing about this book is that David writes as he talks so it is like having a long conversation with a good friend. Equal parts honest, intriguing, distressing, entertaining, funny and appetizing. Pour yourself a glass of French wine, grab a nibble and cozy up to a great night with a great book.

“NOBU”

By Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa (Atria Books, $30)

This year, many new food memoirs by chefs, bloggers and food writers were published. I read a stack of the books and was struck by how tedious and self-indulgent so many of them are. Maybe memoirs by the very nature of the genre are self-serving.? And, then I sat down to read a memoir by the most famous of all the authors, Nobu. Most people know Nobu as the highly acclaimed chef proprietor of 47 Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants, and six hotels around the world with partners who include Robert De Niro.

I was instantly struck by how humble and inspiring his story was — or rather, how simply and humbly he presented his story and his life philosophy. Nobu is one of the good guys who has become famous by the old-fashioned tenets of being a family man, hard work, passion and perseverance even in the face of adversity. Forget about reading self-help books for motivation and guidance. Read Nobu and experience a real-life hero who built an empire and a good life by valuing his busboys as highly as his executive chefs. This is inspiration by example.

FOR COOKS WHO LIKE TO DRINK

French Duralex Picardie Tumblers

Drinking glasses are very personal. They have to feel good in your hand, look good and be durable. I like my glasses to be sturdy, functional and elegant. That’s a lot to ask, but the tempered glass tumblers from Duralex check all the boxes. They are the epitome of good design and the French company has been in business since 1945. You can use the glasses for hot or cold drinks and they store easily because they are stackable. Thanks to shatterproof construction, if broken, the glass becomes small chunks instead of jagged shards — so cleanup is safe and easy. The glasses are microwave and dishwasher safe, impact and chip resistant and lovely to use.

I especially like that they come in eight sizes from 3.1 ounce to 17.62 ounces. The original French tumbler is the Picardie design and it is the only style available in a set of 18. It is a great gift for anyone who needs new glasses, or for the student or graduate moving into his or her first apartment. The set of 18 ($69.95) includes six of each, small (8.75 ounce), medium (12 ounce) and large glasses (17 ounce). They are perfect for milk, juice or a cocktail, iced coffee or tea, water and anything else that you care to drink. I also like the smaller 4.4 ounce size for espresso and sipping bourbon and tequila neat. They can be ordered separately to complete your set at www.surlatable.com.

Grand Mayan Tequila

The first time that I saw Grand Mayan Ultra Aged Tequila was about 10 years ago. I was at a liquor store in Los Angeles and I was struck by the beautiful hand-painted ceramic decanter. I gambled and bought the bottle based on looks alone and boy, oh boy, was I rewarded. The color, aroma and smooth taste rival my favorite aged bourbons for choice sipping. Deep with nutty caramel, vanilla and blue agave notes, this is tequila that you sip neat. The deep dark color comes from a blend of 3, 4 and 5 year-old tequilas that have been aged in American and French oak casks. The Ultra Aged takes 10 years to produce from agave plant to bottle.

The Ultra Aged has a younger sibling, the award-winning Grand Mayan Silver. It is triple distilled resulting in a crystal-clear spirit that is the cleanest silver tequila that I have ever tasted. The sparkling fresh 100 percent blue agave tequila is perfect for drinking over ice with a splash of citrus or mixing into almost any cocktail. It also comes in a very handsome black and white hand-painted ceramic Talavera bottle created by Mexican artists honoring the history and tradition of Mexico.

From my first taste of Grand Mayan a decade ago, I have had my eyes open for that bottle but I couldn’t find it outside of Los Angeles — that is until now. Luckily for the rest of the country, Grand Mayan is now distributed nationally by MS Walker and at www.binnys.com. The cost is $100 for the Ultra Aged, $70 for the Silver.

Little Book “The Easy” Blended Straight Whiskey

Fans of Booker’s bourbon will love Little Book. It was released in October from Freddie Noe, son of 7th Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe. I am a personal fan of Booker’s and a huge fan of American whiskey, so I couldn’t wait to taste Freddie Noe’s first release in the Little Book series. The new limited-release whiskey is Little Book “The Easy.” It is aptly named as it goes down easy. Smooth and rich and perfectly balanced, it is destined to become a fast favorite. Freddie drew inspiration from the classic components of bourbon to create his first-ever whiskey expression. It features uncut and unfiltered Kentucky Straight Bourbon blended with corn whiskey, rye whiskey, and malt. As Freddie takes on an expanding role in the family business, Little Book is a nod to what he’s learned so far from the generations of distillers before him especially his grandfather, legendary distiller Booker Noe. Little Book “The Easy” is available nationwide for $79.99 for a 750-ml bottle and at www.binnys.com. If you miss it, take heart because the distillery plans to release a new expression every fall.

FOR COOKS WHO LIKE HANDY TOOLS

Loftin Oyster Shells

I like to grill oysters on the half shell which makes for both a pretty presentation and failsafe grilling. The tough shell protects the delicate oysters from the hot fire, tampering the heat and transferring it through the shell. But, if you are not very comfortable with shucking oysters, or can’t find whole oysters in the shell, then I have a gift for you!

Loftin Oyster Shells are made from ceramic stoneware. The life-like oyster shells are handmade from high-fire ceramic in Louisiana where oysters reign. Best is that they are uniform with flat bottoms which stop the shells from rocking on the grill. The beautiful re-useable shells will hold one large or two smaller oysters. So, all you have to do is buy the shucked oysters and get grilling! I like their motto which is ‘all shell, no shuck.’ You can buy the oyster shells by the dozen on their website and start making all your favorite restaurant oyster recipes at home. Their oyster grilling tong is especially helpful for taking the oysters off the grill. Suggested retail is $69 for a set of 12 shells and $18.49 for the tong/lifter at www.loftinoysters.com.

Ninja Intelli-Sense Kitchen System

This machine surprised me and made me a new fan of Ninja products. As anyone who knows me knows, I love a good gadget! And, when a friend told me about the Ninja Intelli-Sense Kitchen System, I knew that I had to try it. And, now I can’t stop talking about it. It is so smart. There is one base (think brain) and four attachments that will blend, chop, make individual smoothies and spiralize. In effect, this one appliance replaces my food processor, my smoothie machine, my blender — and my hand-cranked spiralizer — that didn’t work well anyway.

But that’s not all, the Intelli-Sense base recognizes which of the four vessels you attach to it, and automatically displays the corresponding settings specifically designed for that vessel. For example, when you attach the processor, the touch screen on the base gives you options for four different functions (puree, dough, chop, dips). When you make your selection, the base adjusts the speed and torque of the motor to suit what you are making. It’s genius, or at the very least, very intelligent! But that is not all, the design feature that makes this appliance heads and tails above the rest is that the blender and the processor have four blades stacked at varying levels to process everything at once. It does all the hard work for you. No more pushing the food from the top to the bottom or manually turning the machine on and off while you distribute the un-processed food. It goes for $199.75 at www.ninjakitchen.com .

Sous Vide Joule

I just decided to sous vide my steak for dinner tonight. It may sound like a big project but it’s not. I have started to think of my Joule sous vide circulator by Chef Steps, as a fancy slow-cooker that makes cooking dinner and entertaining easier. Add warm water to a Dutch oven, insert the Joule, turn on the Joule with the phone app, add your food and cook. It’s that simple.

The Joule is shorter than other circulators which makes storing it a breeze. And, the bottom is magnetic so you can put it in a pot and it stands upright — and stays upright — without needing to clamp it on the side. You put your food in a heavy-duty re-closeable plastic bag — vacuum sealing is no longer a must — and attach it to the side of your pot with a chip clip. The Joule runs with an app that is so intuitive that you don’t need to be tech savvy to use it. You search for the food that you want to cook, choose a degree of doneness and the size of the food, i.e., a 2-inch thick steak, and turn it on by phone.

One added bonus is that with sous-vide cooking, it is next to impossible to overcook your food. I use my Joule mostly for cooking meat that I will char on the grill just before serving and poached eggs. Yes, if you only bought it for poached eggs, that would be enough! I first became enamored with sous vide when I discovered that you can place a raw egg (in the shell) in the water and 45 minutes later, you crack the shell and out comes a perfect poached egg. I make eggs like these at least once a week for topping avocado toast or eating for breakfast. Once you do it, you will be hooked! The Joule comes in two finishes, stainless for $199 and white for $179 at www.chefsteps.com/joule.

FOR THE COOK WHO HAS EVERYTHING

Gift certificate for Institute of Culinary Education

The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) is the heart of New York City’s academic culinary world. It is unique in that it has both a robust and award-winning professional program, and recreational program. It is the school where so many well-known chefs and food writers and editors attended, and or taught. I taught recreational classes at ICE for many years and most of the photographs in my column are now prepared and shot at ICE. When I taught, many of my students came to my classes with gift certificates that friends and family gave them. I always thought that it was the best gift of all, an experience that they could enjoy with or without the gift giver, and take home new recipes and new skills that they will have for a lifetime.

ICE has been in business since 1975 and houses the largest program of hands-on recreational cooking, baking and wine education classes in the world. More than 26,000 people visit ICE each year to learn and experience everything from wine tasting and mixology to hands-on cooking and eating. With 12 state-of-the-art kitchens in lower Manhattan, ICE is able to provide classes both day and night, 355 days a year. For a list of classes and to register, visit recreational.ice.edu. The minimum amount for gift certificates is $100.

Town Cutler knife sets

Galen Garretson wants this to be the last knife you ever buy. The former chef always loved knives, even as a kid. After tiring of the restaurant kitchen life, he worked as a butcher and became an expert knife sharpener. In 2011 he opened up Town Cutler, a shop selling and sharpening knives in San Francisco. Two years later, he sold his first handmade Town Cutler knife and says that there was a lot of trial and error to making that knife. Those trials paid off. Today, his collection of handmade knives are functional art pieces. I fell in love with the heavy feel and sleek look of the knives. These knives are a cut above.

To understand the quality of the steel and the quality of the wood handle, you just need to hold the knife. It is the difference between the feel of a custom-tailored piece of clothing and off-the-rack clothing. Equally beautiful are the soft leather knife rolls and scabbards (blade covers). This fall, he opened his second location in Chicago and sells his beautiful knives, scabbards and knife rolls through his website.

For the holiday, Town Cutler is putting together two kits, one For the Chef with an 8.5-inch chef knife, scabbard, palette knife for plate decoration and leather knife roll ($450). And one For the Butcher which includes a 6-inch Hankotsu knife (favored by butchers), scabbard, palette knife and leather knife roll for $450. Got to towncutler.com.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Cast Iron care kit by Lodge

I love all things Lodge cast iron, but they can be a little tricky to clean. Now that all of their cast-iron pans come pre-seasoned, it makes cast-iron accessible to every cook, beginner to master chef. The properties of cast-iron make it a cinch for searing, crisping and baking. A good friend has a pan that is so well seasoned that he even cooks eggs in his cast-iron pan. But after every use, you have to wash your pots and pans, and that is when it becomes tricky with cast iron. You are not supposed to use harsh soap, metal scouring pads or the dishwasher because that will destroy the layer of seasoning that makes cast-iron cookware “non-stick.” So, Lodge has packaged a Seasoned Cast Iron CARE KIT for cast-iron cookware ($26). Inside the kit are use and care tips, a pan scraper, scrub brush, seasoning spray, and a silicone hot handle holder as a bonus. You can give this to your favorite cook as a stocking stuffer or add it to a Lodge cast-iron pan for an extra-special gift. I am partial to the 10-inch cast-iron chef skillet for $25.50 and the 10.5-inch square cast-iron skillet for $32. Go to shop.lodgemfg.com/prodcat/indoor-accessories.asp.

Meat thermometers by ThermoWorks

ThermoWorks has been in business for more than 20 years and is serious about its thermometers. They make a variety and my favorite is the Thermopen. It’s the barbecue and chef community’s choice of instant-read thermometer because it is fast, accurate and the foldable probe makes it easy to carry. All it takes to be a believer is opening the box and seeing the individual “Certificate of Calibration.” Every Thermopen comes with their own individual certificate that is filled out by hand, an extensive instruction booklet with real-time tips and a serial number to track your Thermopen. These added value features underscore that you’ve purchased a professional instrument, not just a gadget.

The foldaway thermocouple probe is strong but thin and goes into meat quickly and efficiently without leaving large holes for juices to escape through. I love that it folds into the plastic body, and is thin, and I would buy it for those two features alone. But the fact that it is fast and accurate seals the deal. It can read the internal temperature in 2-3 seconds. Thermopen ($99) is handmade in England and comes in your choice of 10 colors at www.thermoworks.com/Thermapen-Mk4.

Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including “Taming the Flame.”

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