The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Remote Read ROTISSERIE Thermometer

As anyone who has talked to me or read my blogs can tell you: I love my remote read thermometers. I use them whenever I can. If you haven’t read these blogs I will link to them at the end of this post. I have always lamented the fact you couldn’t use one on a meal cooked on the rotisserie. One of the reasons I dropped a lot of money on a fast response instant read meat thermometer was to deal with rotisserie grilling and the need to manually take the temperature of the meat. This year I noticed that Maverick, who makes the other units I own, had come out with a simple but ingenious remote read rotisserie thermometer. It is the Maverick Remote-Chek ET-75. Where this was new technology I tried posting on several BBQ related message boards to see if anyone had any hands on experience with one of these. I got no response and I finally bit the bullet and used some birthday gift money to grab one on Amazon for $38.00.

First a little background. My grill has an infrared rotisserie unit. A flame runs along the base of a mesh plate and heats it up until it glows red. The theory here is this glowing plate can heat the meat without having to heat the air in between the burner and the meat. In theory this makes it more efficient because you are not relying on the burner heating the air which in turn heats the meat. You’ve seen radiant heat in action if you’ve ever been sitting in a car in the winter with the sun coming in the window. It is cold out, but you are warm sitting in the direct path of the sun, which is a giant glowing ball of heat and light. Using radiant heat also allows you to put the rotisserie burner on the back wall of the grill and so the dripping fat doesn’t cause flareups like it would if the burners were below the food. While I like the concept of the infrared rotisserie, the reality isn’t quite so ideal. First off, for whatever reason my rotisserie seems to take longer to cook the foods, than the estimated times shown in the recipes. This is true about 9 out of 10 times. But because it is not a universal truth, I have to start checking the temperature manually on of before the time given in the recipe.

Every time you open the lid you lose some heat-more on that in a minute. You must stop the rotisserie and find the right spot in the meat to take a reading. With my old slow “instant” read thermos it took a minute or two to get a reading. Often I had to don gloves to avoid getting my knuckles singed. Also while the infrared unit is cooking the meet via radiant heat, you still have to deal with another heat transfer method: Conduction. Conduction is where heat is transferred from one object in direct physical contact with another. In this case the meat you are cooking with radiant heat is more than happy to transfer some of it’s heat to the cold air you just let into the grill. You have the problem year round, but it is worst in the winter where I’ve read you lose 15 minutes of time for every time you raise the lid. That is where a remote read thermometer would be perfect: The only time you need to check the temps is at the very end as a double check. Meanwhile you have progress readings the entire time.

It is an interesting unit and worked well in my first outing with it. The way they solved the whole rotating spit problem is the transmitter unit actually rotates along with the spit. There are basically 4 components to the unit.

The temperature probe has been pre-positioned. In addition to the probe you can see the plastic coated probe wire and one of the cable clamps.
The first component is the temperature probe which is similar to other Maverick probes I have seen, with two exceptions: The probe lacks the bent end where the probe transitions to the braided wire. The second is the braided wire is encased in a clear plastic cover. I am not sure for the reason for the plastic cover for the probe wire, but I do have a guess. The directions for the other Maverick thermometers I own caution you to make sure you do not get the braided probe wire wet. I am guessing this may be to protect the wire from wayward glazes or mop sauces. The probe wire ends in a 90 degree male plug that looks like a headphone plug for an iPod.

The hockey puck shaped transmitter unit is clamped to the handle end of the spit rod. You can see where the probe wire plugs in. The remote receiver has just been synched and since the probe is in the open air, the probe reading is showing the very pleasant air temp of 70 degrees.

The second piece is the transmitter unit. It is shaped like a small plastic hockey puck that attaches to the handle of the spit via a quick release clamp. The clamp can be left on the handle full time and you can add or remove the transmitter any time you want. The transmitter has a jack for the probe wire, an on off switch and a red lamp that shows the unit is on. Unlike the two other Maverick units I own, this transmitter has only a pilot light to show it is on. There is no LCD screen showing the probe temperature. This is unfortunate, because it makes it hard to tell if the transmitter and the base station go out of synch. Normally I bring the receiver outside and compare the two temperature readings. This you can’t do. It remains to be seen how big a problem these two units have staying in synch.

The two-piece collar that came with my rotisserie (left) gets replace by a one-piece unit that passes the cable through it (right).

A closeup of the replacement collar on the grill. The probe wire passes inside the collar to isolate it and protect it. You can also see one of the wire clamps to the right of the collar.

The third piece is a special collar for where the spit rod passes through the side of your grill. This replaces the collar that comes with your spit rod. This is the only iffy part about this unit. One of the two comments about this thermo I found on the web, mentioned neither of the two collars furnished with the grill fit a new Weber grill. Maverick's solution was to enlarge the hole on the Weber. The commenter planned to return the unit because he didn't want to void their grill warrantee. Maverick gives you a large and small version of the collar. In my case the smaller one fit perfectly and in a pinch the larger one would have worked too. Good thing too, because my slot is v-shaped with a round bottom and it wouldn't have been pretty trying to drill this slot out smoothly. you are also furnished with 2 each of 4 different sized wire clamps to attach the cable to the spit rod.

The receiver unit allows you to monitor the cook from the comfort of your house and keep the amount of time you must raise the lid to a minimum.

The last component is the remote receiver which in theory has 100' (30M) range. Your mileage may vary. With my other Maverick units, I used to be able to get a signal anywhere in my house which was a 60' (18M) range. Since residing the house it is down to 30' (9M), so your distance will depend on the amount of metal in your walls. In my case the residing included foil faced rigid insulation. Like other Mavericks you turn on the base station and then turn on the transmitter and they synch. The unit has all of the same features as my other Mavericks in terms of being able to pick a meat, a doneness, a doneness temperature as well as count up or count down timers.

So how did it work?: Quite well. The first time set up is a bit fussy as you need to figure out which of the bearings and clamps work with your rig. The second time should hopefully be easier. You need to have the collar in place and the fork in place so you can gauge how much probe wire you'll need for the probe to reach the meat. I have to decide whether to leave the probe wire, clamps and collar in place permanently or not. For now I am. The unit synched right up and seemed to hold the synch for the entire cook-the temps rose steadily the whole time. This once again brings up my one big complaint about this unit, that I mentioned earlier. The two other Maverick thermos I own have a small LCD readout on the transmitter units. That way if you suspect the two units have lost synch, you can compare the readings on the two units. With my other Maverick units extremely cold weather can affect the range or weak batteries any time of year. With the ET-75 other than using an instant read thermo to double check you have no way around this if you fear your units have lost synch. You must also be careful about the angle you use to insert the probe into the meat. You certainly don’t want to have the probe strike the grill grate or drag the probe wire through some drippings. I was close to having that problem with the lamb.

The inaugural run was a bone-in leg of lamb.

I made a rotisserie bone-in leg of lamb for my inaugural run with this thermometer. As I mentioned earlier: The infra red rotisserie burner on the back wall of my grill always seems to take longer than the recipes call for. It was nice to be able to be in the Kitchen making other parts of the meal and being able to see minute by minute where things stood with the leg of lamb. This sure beats having to start running out every 15 minutes or so and sticking an instant read in it and being surprised it is higher or lower than you thought. Not to mention knowing every time you’ve had to raise the lid to check the temperatures, you’ve cost yourself 10-15 minutes additional cooking time. This will be a huge plus in the dead of winter. So after one run color me VERY happy.

Here are links for the Picture Entries for the rotisserie lamb I made using this new thermometer. There are also links for some of my previous entries on instant read and remote read thermometers.



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