Good morning. I was pretty fierce in this space a few days ago, arguing that you need to use a digital thermometer if you want to cook a roast to the state you desire. The internal temperature of your particular cut of meat is the only reliable indicator of its “doneness.” Reliance on the minutes-per-pound at a particular oven temperature is a fool’s errand, dooming cooks either to undercook or overcook their meals.
That’s advice worth repeating as we head into celebration of the New Year, with its (small-this-year) family feasts. No one wants to ruin the first beef Wellington (above) of 2021.
But if my inbox is any indication, my admonition has also led to a question: Which meat thermometer? Dozens of emails this weekend asked: Do I have one in particular to recommend?
I do! Or, more accurately, my colleagues at Wirecutter do. (Wirecutter is a product recommendation service owned by The Times.) The team there tested more than 35 instant-read and probe thermometers and came to the conclusion that the ThermoWorks ThermoPop is the best instant-read thermometer and the ThermoWorks Dot is the best probe thermometer for a home kitchen. (For what it’s worth, I have their “Also Great” pick, the Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo.)
Not that you always need a recipe to cook great food. As so many of us have learned over the course of the pandemic, cooking so often at home, eventually you don’t always need to rely on strict instruction. Instead, just a prompt will do, what we call at NYT Cooking a no-recipe recipe.
So, for instance, tonight you might try some freestyle smothered pork chops? Salt, pepper and flour however many you want to cook and brown them off in a big skillet, then set them aside to rest. (I’ve done it a few times with Lawry’s seasoned salt. Also with Old Bay. You could hit them with a little MSG if you like.) Sauté a lot of onions in the leftover fat, letting them get soft and start to brown. Sprinkle the alliums with a little more flour, cook a little while longer, then add enough chicken stock to create a kind of gravy. Nestle the browned pork chops into that, cover the pan, and allow to bubble along until everything’s cooked through and ready to serve over rice or with mashed potatoes. Maybe some chopped parsley for color? You’re welcome.
Or the soup joumou that runs alongside Priya Krishna’s examination of Haitian Independence Day celebrations, adapted from “Let’s Speak Haitian Food: Stories From the Haitian Diaspora on Cuisine, Community and Culture,” by Cindy Similien.
Thousands and thousands more recipes await you on NYT Cooking. Go see what you find there, and save the recipes you want to cook. Then rate the ones you’ve made and leave notes on them, if you like, to remind yourself of what you’ve done to make the recipe differently, or if you want to share your findings with fellow subscribers.
And we will, as always, be standing by to help should anything go awry while you’re cooking or using our site and apps. Just write us at email@example.com and someone will get back to you.
Now, it’s a long distance from sprats and smoked Gouda, but I’ve finally caught up with the second season of “Succession,” and I’m hard-pressed to think of a darker hour of television than the fifth episode, “Tern Haven.” Worth rewatching. Or even starting from the top of Season 1 just to get there.
I know you’re meant to read them in order, but happenstance put Louise Penny’s “All the Devils Are Here,” the 16th Inspector Gamache novel, in front of me just after I finished the first one, “Still Life.” That worked out OK!
Finally, do read Adam Platt on Guy Fieri in New York Magazine. And I’ll be back on Friday.