Thanks for the tip! I was experimenting with the skillet, using some sliced chicken breast I had in the freezer. Turned out determining the real temperature was much more tricky, because, I figured, the surface of the skillet reaches a much higher temperature than the air above it, unlike on the grill, where the temperature gradient is less steep.
What makes it tricky is that, especially if you’re going with a higher heat for the sear at the beginning, and on a thinner slice, the thermometer can read high because of the high temperature of the skillet, but if you wait too long, the upper side can cool down.
Half breasts, there should be less of a problem because of the thickness.
If you don’t have a thermometer yet, by all means, consider getting one: I used it for the first time on fish yesterday and it’s night and day. The fish used wasn’t very sensitive to overcooking, as I promptly found out after losing track of time tending to the forum, but it turned out you can leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes, possibly more, without it looking overcooked.
However, there may be differences in texture and color. Serious Eats has a great Food Lab post about it, not sure if I linked that above, while talking about chicken and Sous Vide. Should be easy to look it up.
Point is, unless you have a keen eye and perfect heat control, you may be overcooking for safety.
Not having to cut is also an advantage of using the thermometer, especially if you’re cooking for someone else; when doing something like steaks, you can judge easily whether it’s the doneness they want; when cooking other things, you have control over the texture.
Another advantage of the thermometer is for things like whole chicken: the thighs and and the breast should be cooked at different temperatures, higher for the thighs, to get perfect results. Having a thermometer ensures that you get the thighs perfectly done without drying out the breast.
That much is true regardless of the technique used for cooking it.
There are good thermometers that are more or less inexpensive, if curious. No need to splurge on a Javelin or ThermaPen. OTOH, if you don’t mind the expense, the ThermaPen has a fervent following.
BTW I think the guides, recipes and instructions, out there, which rely on time to reach doneness, if made by pros, are likely to be based on the temperature inside the food. Depending on what you’re cooking, you may get good or even excellent results just by following the directions.
However, there is a degree of variability, which the thermometer contributes to reduce, if not eliminate, depending on the situation.
a thermometer convert
(and hopefully you weren’t already aware of all that)