Cooks use this tool to read the temperature of meat in order to ascertain when it has reached the desired degree of doneness. The dials on meat thermometers not only indicate the temperature, but some also have a scale indicating at what degree each type of meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) is done. A thermometer can be inserted at the beginning of the cooking time and left in throughout the duration. There are also instant-read thermometers that take the reading in just a few seconds; these are inserted into the meat toward the end of the cooking time. Meat thermometers come with one- or two-inch dials, usually measuring from 0° (sometimes 100°) to 220°F. Look for those with thin probes, which make smaller holes in the meat and therefore allow less juices to escape. Always insert a meat thermometer as near to the center of the meat as possible, avoiding bone or gristle areas.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.