Using a meat thermometer can be a little tricky the first few times, but learning how pays off with perfectly cooked dishes and food safety. Placement is key. A meat thermometer can be used on other foods besides meat, such as casseroles. A meat thermometer allows you to check the temperature inside a dish, ensuring the temperature has reached a safe level to avoid food-borne bacteria like salmonella.
Hold the thermometer by the sides of the dial. Do not touch the end of the probe on the thermometer as this will affect the temperature reading.
Place the probe of the thermometer into the thickest part of the dish, but not touching any bone, thick fat or gristle. When checking chicken, place the thermometer into the thigh or breast about 2 inches deep. For steak, or baked dishes such as casseroles, insert into the thickest part. Slide the probe in sideways if you are checking the temperature of a thin item, like a patty. This should be done with a little cooking time to spare to ensure you have time to achieve the desired temperature. Leave in for around 15 seconds.
Insert the probe of an outer-oven thermometer into the dish before placing it in the oven. These thermometers stay in the meat while it cooks, having a lead which runs from the probe to a temperature reader on the outside of the oven. This means you can check the temperature of your dish at any time without opening the oven.
For bony poultry items like chicken wings, a thermometer will be difficult to use. Instead, judge the readiness of the chicken by cooking it until the juices run completely clear. Most meats and casserole dishes require a 165 temperature minimum to achieve safe eating standards. Check all reheated leftovers of any type to ensure they reach 73.9 degrees C as well, to avoid food poisoning.