MEAT SMOKING 101: PART 2
IT’S ALL ABOUT TEMPERATURE!
People are always asking me, “How long do you have to cook a Pork Butt Roast,” or ribs, or brisket, or turkey, etc., etc. Then, they get frustrated when I tell them that cook time varies for a number of reasons and that what really counts is the meat’s internal temperature! Sometimes they look at me suspiciously wondering if I am hiding some cooking secret from them! That is really laughable because it really is ALL ABOUT TEMPERATURE!
I would never consider cooking on either my gas grill or wood pellet smoker without the help of a meat thermometer. Thermometers take the guesswork out of barbequing and ensure that your food is both safe and cooked to the desired state of doneness.
If I am using my gas grill to cook hamburgers, sirloin steaks, or maybe a pork tenderloin, my favorite thermometer is an instant-read digital device. With a 240-degree rotating probe this battery powered device can provide a accurate temp reading in 2-3 seconds. Most models are waterproof and have an internal magnet for easy placement around your workspace and the backlit LED screen makes them easy to see in dark settings. I use mine more in the kitchen than I do at my grills; it will provide you with an instant-read temp for almost any food from baked quiche to beef pot roast to roast potatoes. They are available from almost anywhere that sells kitchen gadgets (including Amazon) for $12 to $50 depending on how many whistles & bells you desire.
When it comes to smoking any meat on my wood pellet smoker, I am totally spoiled using the INKBIRD IBBQ-4T WiFi Grill Thermometer. You can read all about it here: https://inkbird.com/products/ibbq-4t but in a nutshell, this is a 4-probe digital temp monitor that constantly provides you with temp readings via WiFi to your smartphone or other applicable device. Features include wireless control, temperature alarm, temperature records, and more. While smoking a Pork Butt, I can run into town and enjoy lunch at a restaurant and still be able to monitor the meats temperature on my phone. Another plus for this product is the fact that it can be used in your home oven, the stovetop, gas and/or charcoal grills, etc. Available from Amazon and some models are currently on sale.
So What Temperature Does My Meat Need To Be Cooked To?
Rather than repeat what’s already been written and posted, let me suggest that you click over to https://www.smokedmeatsunday.com/how-much-time-to-smoke-meat/ because this is one of the best websites on the Internet when it comes to the basics of smoking meats and I highly recommend it.
In closing let me just say this about smoking pork… If you truly want to have it be falling off the bone then you need to finish it at a higher than normal temperature. I smoke my Pork Baby-Back Ribs at 220-degrees and the last several hours at 250-degrees until they reach an internal temperature of 210-215 F. at which time the rib bones literally fall out when I pick up the slab of ribs with tongs. For a Pork Butt Roast (i.e. Pork Shoulder), it is pretty much the same routine. Begin smoking at 220-degrees and go to 275 – 300-degrees for the last several hours until the internal temp is about 210-215 F., after it rests, it should easily shred as you lift the meat from the pan with tongs.
I will address other specific issues such as spritzing, foil vs paper, the stall, the Texas Crutch, finishing/resting the meat and more in a later posting.