The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Who Wants a Long Probe? I Do

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Most folks would not want to be involved with a long probe, unless of course we are talking about the subject of remote read temperature probes. I have had a Maverick ET-72 Remote Read Dual Probe Meat Thermometer since 2003 and the ET-73 Smoker thermometer since 2005. The ET-73 has been flawless up to two weeks ago. The ET-73, on the other hand, has gone through several food temperature probes, 4 total, which were all replace under warrantee. A week ago one of the two probes for the ET-72 went out when I was cooking my CEDAR PLANKED MEATLOAF. Strangely enough, it stopped working before the flareups started, so I can’t blame those. So with under two weeks before Thanksgiving I was faced with ordering a replacement probe and hoping it arrived before the big event.

In some of the blogs I have written in the past about the greatness of remote read temperature probes, I have mentioned that I like to use two even in the same piece of meat. This is especially true with my offset smoker, where the heat source is at one end of the smoker. I’ll put two probes in the same piece of meat to see the temperature differential and I rotate the meat 180 degrees midway through the cooking time to try to even out the cooking time. The same is true with multiple piece of meat. I will use the two or three probes available to me to check the temps as I shuffle the food from the hotter to the cooler end of the smoker. Before I get too far off on a tangent, I will put some links at the bottom of this blog for previous entries on remote read thermometers and food rotation. Getting back on topic I was a bit concerned I might not be able to have two probes for the ET-72 to put in the two thighs of the turkey I was cooking for Thanksgiving.

When I went to order the probes I found for about 40 percent more than the cost of the standard probe, I could get a 6’ (1.75 m) high temperature version. The big difference between the ET-72 probes vs. the ET-73, was the gauge of the probe wire. The ET-72 has a heavier gauge wire and they had given me 7 years of trouble free service. I often wondered if the thinner wire of the ET-73 probes explained it’s higher failure rate. The 6’ (1.75M )length sounded like it would be useful, particularly on my 6 burner grill which is 42” wide (105cm). I was often forced to go in a particular direction based on food placement and not my wishes as to which side table I’d like to use. I decided to order two new 6’ (1.75 m) length high temperature probes for the ET-72 and one for the ET-73.

I will admit to not be real pleased with the ordering process. The order page has you filling out an inline PDF. Some of the fields needed a particular format for certain items, such as the phone number. Fill it out wrong and the field would go blank. I tired of this silliness and downloaded the PDF, only to find there were prompts that told you what the format was supposed to be that only showed up for me in the downloaded version. Worse yet I now had to email the form and send credit card info via email. Also there was no expedited shipping options and the reply email I got said your order will be PROCESSED in 5 - 7 business days. Yikes, they are that busy or under staffed? But the story had a happy ending as the probes were in my hands 4 days later.

Opening the packaging, I could see that the wire was noticeably heavier gauge than even the ET-72’s old probes. I think this will really contribute to the longevity of the probes. Also, the probe wire is coiled up when the units are new and in the box and the wire tends to have a memory going forward. If you aren’t careful you can kink the wire if you try to uncoil it in the wrong directions. It will be a lot harder to accidentally do this with heavier wire. The probes themselves outwardly look the same as the other probes, the only other difference is the 6‘ (1.75 m) length vs. the 3’ (1 m) length of the old probes. This will prove useful on both the smoker and the gas grill. On the smoker, I often had to run the probe wires straight across to get them over to the left side table, which is the best location for beaming the signal to my Kitchen. I sometimes ended up positioning the food to accommodate the wire runs, as opposed to placing the food where I wanted to and running the wires around the food as needed. When I made my Thanksgiving turkey, I could see by the amount of extra wire I had that wire length issues will be a thing of the past. I will be able to position the food as I see fit and run the wires around and not over the food. The same will be true on the gas grill where this is even more an issue due to the extra width of the grill. The side burner is on the right side of the grill. If the food I was measuring the temps of was also on the right side, it was impossible to get the wire all the way across because the grill is 42” (105 cm) wide and the wire is 36” (92 cm). This problem has vanished.

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This picture illustrates a potential problem with the 3’ probes. If the food is on the right side of the 42” (105cm) wide grill I must place the transmitter on the right side. In this picture everything is OK, but that cover it is on is for the side burner. If I was trying to use the side burner too, this would be a problem. The 6’ (1.75 m) cable is long enough to reach to the other side.

One new problem is the 6’ (1.75 m) wire length can reach the ground easily now. I usually place the probes in the meat in the Kitchen before heading outside to cook it. I sometimes leave the probes in the food until I get back into the Kitchen. I unplug the transmitter, but keep the probes in. Two reasons for this: First I sometimes plug the transmitter unit back in once inside and watch the carry over temperature rise. Secondly those babies can be hot when you try to remove them and I’d rather mess with that inside. I will have to learn to carry the meat in with the probes coiled or held in such a way that they aren’t dragging on the ground. Otherwise it would be easy to step on the probe end and trip and fall.

I actually lied earlier when I said the wire length and gauge were the only differences. There was a handwritten note saying they don’t actually make a special dedicated high temperature probe for the ET-73. The three probes they shipped were identical and could be used in either unit. This will be convenient. I never did this before because the old probes had the different gauge wire and a different color and sized plug. The metal part of the plug looked the same but the plastic plug handle was a different size and color. Who knew if the probes would give the correct reading in the other thermometer?

So all in all I think I am way ahead of the game. I have gained tremendously in terms of food placement and flexibility using the probes. In the past I was always afraid to use the food probe of the ET-73 on my gas grill due to the thinner wire. I mean it had failed at temps no higher than 250 degrees (120 C) and my gas grill can’t even go that low. Hopefully the heavier gauge wire will last a good long time. I just need to learn the best way to avoid dragging the wires on the ground when I go in and out of the house. Honestly if I had known probes with 6’ (1.75 m)
heavy duty wires were available, I might have bought them right away. I really like the extra length and I could have kept the then new 3’ (1 m) probes as emergency back up. One of the purposes of writing this blog was to let others know you can get a better probe for fairly short money.
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SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here are links for t some of my previous entries on remote read thermometers and food placement.

  MEASURING UP - Blog Entry - Remote Read & Infrared Thermometers
  WHAT’S YOUR POSITION? - Blog Entry - Food Positioning
  REMOTE POSSIBILITIES - Blog Entryy - Remote Read Thermometers


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