Meater meat thermometer, by Apption Labs, may have one of the worst punning names of any product in the history of commerce, but it's also one of the best things I've ever been sent. And I am jaded as hell, so that is considerable praise.
It's of no use to vegans, and minimal use to fish eaters, but if you regularly enjoy large portions of expensive meat, and want to do justice to all the effort that has gone into rearing, butchering and delivering it to you, Meater is a revelation. Even if you're already in the habit of using a meat thermometer, it will probably teach you new things about cooking meat. It certainly did for me.
Obviously there are plenty of other meat thermometers, and plenty of ways to carefully calculate your cooking times. There are even a few other wireless thermometers. None I've seen is as compact or as simple as Meater.
It works like this. Download the iOS or Android app, charge the Meater on its little wooden charging block – powered, weirdly but conveniently, by a AAA battery rather than a plug and wire – then plunge it into your chosen meat. I practiced on a couple of cheap cuts before doing a Waitrose côte de bouef.
The app connects to the Meater via Bluetooth, with a range of 10m, which I think is generally fine. I just used an old iPad with it rather than my phone, since I tend to meander about my extensive estate with my phone, running the risk of going out of range.
Oh! You can also get the Meater+, which adds an extender for up to 50 meaters – sorry, metres – of range. You can meander where you like, with that.
You select your chosen meaty supper from a long list and then, where appropriate, select your cooking preference from rare to well done – obviously this option is not available with chicken. You can also just ignore that and dial in your favoured internal temperature for whatever you're frying, roasting, grilling or barbecuing.
And that's pretty much where your involvement ends. The timer begins – first counting up then, when it's been cooking long enough to estimate the finished time – counting down.
The important bit, I've found is that it also calculates resting time. This really makes all the difference to the flavour and texture of meat. Even if you're familiar with the importance of resting meat, the way Meater shows you the temperature at all times is highly educational at this stage.
It will tell you to take the meat out when it's well below your chosen cooked temperature, which did initially cause some consternation. Meat continues to cook after being removed from a heat source but it's still a worry when you have selected 55º for a medium rare bit of beef, and the Meater app tells you to pull it out at a barely legal 43º or so.
However, sure enough, with Meater does calculate the right duration of resting, and you see the internal temp gradually tick up to your chosen level, or a bit above, depending on whether you keep it in the pan or roaster but off the heat, or transfer it to a warm plate with a bit of foil plonked on top.
Even with resting time, you may be surprised at how much quicker this is than what the ultra-safe cooking times printed on supermarket meat suggest. It also allows for pro-grade results such as having meat that is seared and charred on the outside but still tender and pink on the inside. It's not really a product for people who like their steaks well done.
The Meater's size and lack of any wires mean it can be used in any form of cooker apart from a microwave – because it's metal, and that is not good news in a microwave.
In summary, Meater is among the best purchases the advanced student of meat studies can make. It's basically cheating.