Last night I cooked 3 pounds of chicken breast tenders using my preferred "set it and forget it" method:
- Preheat the oven to ~350°F
- Lay out tenders in an oiled baking dish & season as desired
- Insert meat thermometer probe into side of thickest piece
- Stick in the oven and set the meat thermometer to beep when internal temperature hits 165°F (15 minutes or so, depending on the size of the pieces)
I like this method, especially when I'm cooking for leftover purposes and not a meal, because it saves me the trouble of the "timer beeps > check temp > reset timer" song and dance. But last night I got to thinking: Does keeping the probe in the meat throughout the cooking process affect the cooking time of that piece? I imagine the probe would conduct more heat into the center of the meat, cooking that piece faster than the others around it.
If it does, the effect is negligible at short cooking times and relatively low temperatures like this. All of my chicken pieces come out perfectly done through this method. But I would imagine the effect could be much more pronounced at a longer cooking time, or with smaller cuts of meat.