No more watching my famous baby-back ribs like a hawk for eight hours. Now I can work in the basement while they cook to perfection.

By Andrew Leonard

Published June 29, 2005 4:09PM (EDT)

How I survived the pre-wireless BBQ thermometer era, I'll never know. I've repressed my memories of that ill-begotten time, all that frantic hustle and bustle, the nightmarish uncertainty and desperate anxiety of improperly smoked meat. But those days are gone; I sleep easy now, content in the knowledge that my Maverick Remote-Check Thermometer protects me from barbeque harm.

Before the Remote-Check wireless thermometer entered my life, I regularly confronted a gnarly dilemma. My friends and family are a generally agreeable bunch, but they do have certain expectations. Chief among their demands is the understanding that I will regularly lavish them with heaping platters of smoked baby-back ribs marinated in a honey-mustard glaze. And when I say "smoked" I mean smoked. I mean at least eight hours of indirect wood-fired heat, at temperatures that hover in a range between 200 and 250 degrees -- and no higher.

In our hectic, always-on world, eight hours is a long time. But I can't just toss the ribs in my Oklahoma Joe smoker, fire up the charcoal, and catch a movie. If, perchance, the fire grows too hot and there's a spike in temperature, up to 350, say, or the dreaded 400 mark, then my succulence is in peril. Dry, tough ribs ensue. Children furrow their brows. The gods of grilling become uneasy.

Back in the bad old days, every 10 minutes or so I would have to run to the smoker, check the built-in thermometer, and adjust the flame accordingly. Even at the best of times this is a hassle, but the worst torture comes when I try to smoke ribs in the middle of the week, while working at home. Down in my basement, attempting to craft prose as luscious as my ribs, I can't be bothered to constantly run up the stairs and out into the backyard.

All was not well. Heaven and earth and my smoker were not aligned. But, of course, there was an information technology solution -- provided to me by a high priest of the digital age who saw my plight and came to my aid. He gave me a Maverick Remote-Check Wireless Thermometer.

The Remote-Check (technically known as a "programmable radio frequency food thermometer and timer") comes with two sensor/transmitters and a programmable receiver. I can put a sensor inside the smoker, and take the receiver down to the basement with me for constant temperature updates. I don't even need to constantly keep my eye on the receiver. I can program it to emit a piercing alarm if the temperature passes a preset number.

The tyranny of the smoker has been overthrown! How happy I am, whether chopping scallions in the kitchen or wrestling with an essay in the basement office, when I catch a glimpse of the Remote-Check thermometer out of the corner of my eye, and know that all is right with my ribs, and consequently, the world.


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Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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