With the holidays comes some massive meal preparation. And that can add some major pressure to what can already be a stressful time of the year. Luckily, our friends at Thermoworks and iDevices have released two neat new devices to help take some of the hassle out of the holidays. Read along for a look at the new ChefAlarm and the iGrill Mini.
As a tech-centric home chef, I’m a big fan of the products from both of these companies. I believe that cooking to an accurate temperature is one of the most important aspects of a successful meal, both from a safety standpoint and to ensure well-cooked meats that aren’t overcooked. I use my Thermapen almost daily in the kitchen or at the outdoor grill, and the iGrill app and sensor have saved my (pork) butt more than once during a 12-hour smoking session when I’ve been less than attentive while making a batch of my semi-famous pulled pork barbecue.
The newest product from Thermoworks is the ChefAlarm, and I think it should be an indispensable addition to just about any kitchen. Combining the best aspects of a precision electronic thermometer and kitchen timer, the Chef Alarm retails for $59.00 at the company’s website.
The ChefAlarm comes in a handy and attractive zippered case to keep all the various accoutrements together in one place so that the wires attached to the high-temperature probe don’t get all tangled in your kitchen junk drawer, which we all have, right? In addition to the ChefAlarm, battery and probe, the case also holds the included pot clip that allows you to attach the probe to the edge of a pot to check the temperature of simmering liquids. Importantly, since the ChefAlarm’s probe is rated up to 572 degrees F, you can also track the temperature of frying oil or use it as a candy thermometer.
The display on the timer is bright and easily readable, but there is also a light that will allow for easier reading outdoors. The buttons are clearly labeled and easy to understand. On the back of the device is a power button, another button to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius and another to calibrate the device, which is pretty much unnecessary since the device is accurate within a couple of degrees.
The temperature probe is attached to the timer display by a braided cable that is sturdy enough to be closed up in the door of your oven or inside an outdoor grill. And optional needle probe is available to use with thinner, more delicate foods like fish so that they aren’t damaged by the regular probe. Both the probe and the timer are water-resistant and easy to clean after use with a damp cloth and kitchen cleaner.
The ChefAlarm folds in the middle to allow it to stand up on a countertop or fold flat to attach to the front of an oven door or grill using the attached magnet. Setting the timers and max/min temperature alarms is simple and intuitive, and the alarms are plenty loud enough with four adjustable volume settings up to 92 dB to roust you off the couch when your roast is ready.
The included clip allows users to attach the probe under the rack of your oven or grill grate to check the temperature of your cooking environment. I’ve said it before, but it is really important to know the internal temp of your oven. That knob on the front of your stove is only as accurate as the little numbers painted on it, which is to say…not very. Most ovens can vary as much as 20-50 degrees from what you think you’ve set it to, which can make a huge difference especially when baking.
Timers can be set to count up or down depending on how you want to track cook times, so that’s a nice little touch too. The ChefAlarm is available in nine attractive colors to match the decor of just about any kitchen. I can recommend this handy little device without reservation!
The iGrill Mini is a natural evolution of the original iGrill. $40 cheaper than the original at only $39.99, the iGrill Mini is simpler to use and appropriate for just about any home griller with access to an iOS device. In fact, you definitely need an iPhone, iPad or iPod since unlike the original iGrill, there’s no way to see the temperature recorded by the probe directly on the device.
The iGrill Mini is a Bluetooth enabled device that uses a probe to record the temperature of whatever you are cooking and transmits it directly to your phone via the iDevices Connected app. It uses a small coin battery to power the transmitter, which iDevices claims will last for about 200 hours of cooking. That’s enough to get through a whole season of cooking in my household. You can also pair multiple devices with the app, which would allow you to measure the temperature in different parts of a big turkey at the same time. With a range of 150′, you can sit comfortably out of the elements and track your cooking process from the comforts of your den.
The iGrill Mini is simple to operate, with just one button to turn it on and pair it with your iOS device from within the app. A magnet on the back of the transmitter allows you to attach it to the outside of an oven or grill while the probe stays inside the heat.
The app is simple to use, tracking the probe temperature on a rolling graph and sounding alarms at whatever temperature you set. You can name the individual probes and set alarms for each one, or you can use presets that are built into the app for specific doneness of different types of meat. So it’s as simple as pushing one button to turn on the iGrill Mini, inserting the probe into your steak, choosing whether you want it medium rare (which you do), and then just set it and forget it until the alarm tells you to set the table.
The iGrill Mini is available for preorder online now and should ship early next year. So it’s probably too late for a holiday gift, but just in case you don’t get what you really wanted for Christmas, you might want to order yourself one of these little gems!