Temperature and time are two keys factors in good cooking, and The Meatrix Model 101 measures them relative to each other. The Meatrix system employs a menu-driven approach to cooking food that invokes an algorithm aimed at cooking to a selected doneness and meeting USDA food safety standards. This involves measuring temperature relative to time, not just temperature and time in isolation.
Using a touch screen menu, the user selects the food type (beef, pork, poultry or fish) then chooses the desired doneness from a scale with 15 choices ranging from rare with a minus symbol to well-done with a plus symbol. The temperature probe measures the actual food temperature, which reads out on the display. There is also a doneness meter that mimics a thermometer, but shows rare- through well-done+.
As the food temperature rises, the display will show and sound an alarm telling the cook to flip the food. If the temperature is rising too slowly, it will prompt the cook to raise the cooking temperature. Similarly, if the food temperature is close to the desired doneness and rising quickly, a message prompts the cook to move the food to an indirect heat location to avoid overcooking. When the food has been warm enough for long enough, the display will tell the user that the USDA food safety standards have been met. Finally, the device will tell the cook that the desired degree of doneness has been reached, signaling the end of the cook. There is a cooking timer as well as a predictive timer that advises the user of the expected cooking time. In general, the algorithm seems to be aimed more at hot and fast grilling than low and slow barbecuing.
The device comes with two food probes that are quite thin. The cabling is the most robust material I’ve ever seen, a choice likely made to withstand the high temperatures of a hot grill surface, and it has strain relief at each end to prevent cable damage. The temperature probes are quick to react to temperature changes, allowing them to be used as instant-read probes if desired.
The controller itself measures about 5″ x 5″ (12.5cm by 12.5cm) and comes in two color schemes, silver/black and blue/orange. The touch screen display is multi-colored with small type that might pose readability problems for some users. The controller does not appear to employ any moisture resistant sealing, so I’d avoid getting it wet.
Evaluating a product that takes a unique approach to cooking is tricky. The temperatures that are internally selected for doneness can be a matter of personal preference, although the user can fine-tune the temperatures on this unit to achieve whatever is desired. Some users may prefer to make their own assessments of doneness based on thermometer readings alone. Others will appreciate the extra hand-holding that the Meatrix provides. I could not test every scenario that the product is capable of addressing, but its basic decisions about doneness temperatures and cooking times appear to be reasonable. I’m not sure this device would be my choice for low and slow cooking, but one could ignore the alarms and just read the temperature value if that’s what you’re interested in. It will come down to a matter of personal choice.
Overall construction quality is good, and the probes, as mentioned above, are heavy duty. The temperature range of the probes is not stated, although the maximum environmental temperature is 1000°F (538°C). I could not find an explicit warranty, either on the two-page instruction sheet or on the internet. Contact info for the company is available on its website, including snail-mail, e-mail and telephone number.
The verdict? I’m going to take a middle ground and give the Meatrix a Silver Medal. Someone who likes more direction in their cooking may value the extra assistance that this product provides, and it might deserve a Gold Medal in their eyes. I prefer to make my own interpretations of doneness. To each his own…
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