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I tried to bake chicken thighs the other day and I used my Probe Thermometer to tell me when they were done. Well it seems that I did something wrong when inserting the thermometer because the thighs were still undercooked.

How can you use a probe thermometer on a chicken thigh to accurately take its temperature?

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How do you know that they were undercooked? The main reason to use a thermometer is that it's more accurate than other indicators. –  Aaronut May 14 '13 at 0:28
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3 Answers 3

I assume you cooked your chicken thighs to 165–175°F (74-80°C) (depending on preference). 165°F (74°C) is the recommended temperature for safety (at least by US authorities), 175°F (80°C) is often recommended for texture (in legs and thighs; not for breast).

The best bet is to measure in several spots. You generally want to guess the thickest spot of meat, insert the probe past the center, then slowly withdraw it. How slowly depends on the response time of your probe. You then use the lowest temperature you see, especially if you see anything under the food-safety temperature (165°F or 74°C).

If there are multiple pieces of chicken, you should check several. Especially if they're different sizes.

Probe response times are anywhere from 20 seconds on fairly cheap thermometers, down to 3 seconds on expensive ones (like a Thermopen). 10 seconds is typical. You'll know its finished responding when the numbers stop changing quickly.

You also should rest the chicken, loosely tented, for at least 5 minutes (for just thighs, more like 15 minutes for a full chicken) after taking it off the heat—this lets the heat even out, and also will reduce the amount of juice lost when cutting.

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According to the FSIS site you should check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh. The middle of it is the part that will take the longest to cook, so that's where you should put the tip of the probe.

Take care to not touch the bones, since they can conduct the heat from the "outside" and give an incorrect reading.

Finally, it will depend on your taste, but I would overcook it the first time (let's say, 165 F) and then see if it's more or less to your desired point. Then I would adjust the temperature to the desired taste.

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You want to:

  1. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching any bone which would give you a falsely high reading
  2. Wait long enough for the temperature reading to stabilize (which may be 5-10 seconds depending on your thermometer)

Note that once you start measuring your temperature, you may be cooking your thighs properly, but may be so used to overcooked meat that properly cooked thighs are unpalatable to you. Of course, you should find the temperature you like as long as it is above the safety threshold.

Typically, thighs would be cooked to about 165-170 F.

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When you freshly insert the thermometer, the temperature is going to still be going up—so failing to wait for it (when you've just stuck it in) would result on overcooking. –  derobert May 13 '13 at 19:57
    
@derobert Erm... it does say "wait long enough for the temperature reading to stabalize"... what I am I missing? –  SAJ14SAJ May 13 '13 at 19:59
    
OP complained of it being undercooked, not overcooked. I'm just saying that failing to wait probably wasn't OP's problem. –  derobert May 13 '13 at 20:00
    
This is an answer on properly, not just one form of the error :-) –  SAJ14SAJ May 13 '13 at 20:02
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