I purchased a bon jour laser thermomether and lost the instructions. It had a table of temperatures for different activities. Any suggestions on where to find them... like what is the ideal surface temperature of a cast iron skillet to sear and make hamburger patties?
Of course I grind and mix my own beef :)
I have a non-contact thermometer too. In the kitchen it is a fun toy. I do think that it helps you in some task (like getting the griddle temperature just right for golden brown pancakes), but is far from essential.
I have played with it when searing meats and I have found that there are too many variable to reliably use the non-contact thermometer. Sure, it will tell you that a skillet at over 475 is going to be too hot, but the wisps of smoke are just as reliable.
On the low temp side if you put meat in a pan that is under 350 or so it is going to get all grey and yucky instead of developing a well brown sear.
That leaves a 125 degree range to allow for meat that will sear nicely, depending on how much of it you put in the pan, how well you pan & stove can maintain temperature, how cold the meat when it went into the pan, how dry the surface of the meat was, how much fat is in the meat/on its surface, etc etc etc.