Laser-Guided Infrared Thermometers
A surprising number of people come to this blog searching for "Alton Brown infrared thermometer," since I once mentioned that Alton Brown recommends them. Apparently, he isn't enthusiastic enough to include infrared thermometers on his list of essential equipment
. So, here's my take.
Infrared thermometers are in widespread use by mechanics for measuring engine temperatures and such, but can be also measure the temperature of a pan. You just point it at a metal object a few feet away, using the built-in laser beam to target it, and press the trigger to display the temperature.
I've never actually used one, but I recently gave one as a gift. The Bonjour thermometer
is sold on lots of cooking sites. If you want to save a few bucks, I'm pretty sure that the Bonjour is just a repackaged version of the Mastercool infrared thermometer
marketed to auto mechanics. They both look the same, and have the same temperature range. The recipient of my gift, who's quite a good cook, says he hasn't used it to test a pan yet, but that it seems to works very well on his boat engine.
Personally, I'm pretty happy with the usual methods of judging the temperature of a hot pan: watching how easily the oil flows; waiting for the butter to foam up, the olive oil to give off its characteristic aroma, or the oil to begin smoking; or throwing on a test piece and listening to the sizzle. Hmm, maybe it really isn't all that simple. I guess it would be nice to have an infrared thermometer. And they sure are cool.