Fresh-smoked New Year's Ham! Yum! I smoke a lot, have about every thermometer available, but for tonight's dinner, I'm trying something different: iGrill, the iOS-enabled meat thermometer. So far it's tons better than sitting in my yard staring at the smoker. Updated
So, I can't really tell you much about the experience yet—because my pork's only been in for an hour or so—but so far, so good. Mostly. Had some problems Bluetooth-pairing the thing with my iPhone, so I switched to my iPad, and that worked fine. It was actually a better choice, because iGrill's iPad app is much more fun than the iPhone version: more screen real-estate means a delicious BBQ dashboard you can burn hours playing with.
On the main screen, there's a kitchen timer (I'm using it to remind me to add charcoal and wood chips every 45 minutes), a real-time thermometer that tracks both of the iGrill's probes simultaneously, a temperature histogram that shows the progression of your meat-heat, and customizable alarms for each probe. The iGrill only comes with one probe, but I was able to plug in the one that came with my Polder thermometer with no problems. I'm using one to track the smoker's internal temperature, and one to measure the meat's doneness. I'm aiming for around 155-160—a perfect medium-well ham. Zooomigod I am so freaking hungry.
Then, if you flip the little stainless-steel drawer-handle-looking thinger down, the app offers tips about cooking and food safety, recipes, even a Web browser so you can cruise the forums at BBQ Bretheren. But don't do that too much—the Bretheren are loyal, but they have differing opinions and can cause you to freak out and over-think your process. Or so I hear. Never happened to me, I swear.
All in all, I'm having fun. I'll update this post as the day—and my pork—progresses. Here's to hoping that all my technological fiddling doesn't distract me from the task at hand: smoking a 16-lb pork leg. [opens beer]
200-foot range my ass. (That's what they advertise.) I got about 50 feet into my apartment, and the pairing broke. To be fair, though, I have thick plaster walls and about 95 Russian supermodels all sitting around dirtying the air with their incessant tweeting. (Hashtag is #ZOMG_hanging_w_JoeBrown.) On the bright side, when I came back into range, the iPad instantly picked the probe back up.
MAJOR FREAKING UPDATE 1:00PM
Commenter abigfoot chimed in with a very big piece of news: the iGrill has been recalled! You would think they iGrill people would, like, mention something about that in their iPad app. Oh well, soldiering on—nothing's changing the fact that my pork is going to bathe in smoke for about 10 hours. Let's see if we can figure out what the problem is.
OK, I think I figured out why the iGrill was recalled: It doesn't f-ing work. While it showed the smoker's internal temperature as 145, my trusty instant-read probe registered 250. That's a big difference! The discrepancies were less pronounced in lower range: while iGrill read 66-degrees, my instant-read showed 78. I'll keep tracking this as the day progresses. Hey abigfoot: Thanks for pointing that out to me. In a perfect world, I would buy you a beer; in this virtual one, you'll have to settle for the getting promoted to star commenter.
Turns out that the iGrill recall only applies to the units sold in Apple Stores—I guess my test unit must be part of that batch. I really hope they get this problem ironed out, because this has the potential to be a very cool product.
iGrill says 78 degrees, instant-read says 80. That's an acceptable margin of error to me. iGrill must be Bluetooth-reading this post and stepping up its game out of embarrassment. I'm eating cheese and drinking a sickeningly sweet Riesling that my roommates left in the fridge because its open and I'm a lush.
iGrill and I are friends again. It says 116 degrees, and my probe says 115. One degree of variation in a 16-pound piece of meat that's still cooking is perfectly acceptable to me. I was a little mystified by the apparent inaccuracy of probe #2, the one I was using to measure the smoker's temp, but then I got this email from a reader named Craig:
While the connectors on all probes are the same, they give different readings when plugged in to different thermometers. I think they may be calibrated to work with the device they were sold with. If you are experiencing this problem with your extra probe, but not your iGrill one then this could be the problem.
That's freaking astute, Craig. Given the improved performance of probe 1, I'm going to assume that the iGrill I'm using isn't defective. Or at least, I'm going to test it a couple more times in more controlled circumstances before I declare that it is.
UPDATE THE MORNING AFTER
Sorry I didn't post this last night, was too busy EATING DELICIOUS PORK. In other words, it came out! Apologies for the phonecam pic.