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Summer Food 2: BBQ Post mortem

Well, its the morning after.  If you saw my twitter stream, you'll know that things did not go as planned.  Instead of taking 4-6 hours to reach 190 degrees, it took about 10 hours to get to 180.  Ultimately the pulled pork tastes quite good, so that, at least was successful.  I also had problems getting the smoke generated properly.  I checked the smoke box after the cooking was over and I got less that half the wood smoldering. So my plan is to try and deduce what went wrong.  Of course I only have the one data point, so most of this is based on other experiences.

First, the smoke.  I think the smoke box did not start smoldering because I should have put it on earlier, when I was heating the barbecue, not once I had stabilied the temperature.  The fire was not high enough at that point to start the wood smoking.  If it was already smoking, I think it would have maintained generating the smoke, but it was too cold to start the fire.

Second.  The time.  The meat was still cold when it when on the bbq.  If you check the initial temperature when I put the meat on the bbq, it was still basically at fridge temperature in the center.  It took almost a full hour on the heat before the internal temperature was up to room temp.  Given that it only took an hour to get the internal temp to room temp, I'm not sure if that fully explains why it took basically twice the expected time to get to final temp.  Of course heat transfer is a complex process, so who knows.

Anyway, the recipe for the rub made more that I used for this experiment so I figure I should do another in a few weeks.

Another important note, running the bbq for 10 hours at lowest heat used about 1/4 of a tank of propane.

Here are photos of the meat, almost every hour (I missed a few).

Just starting 12 pm


1 pm.

2 pm.

3 pm.







12pm.  Post pulling.

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Reader Comments (2)

Cook's Illustrated suggests leaving the meat out of the fridge for at least an hour prior to putting it on the grill, then cooking on a 275-degree grill for three hours (with smoke) then remove to 325-degree oven and cook in foil until the roast comes up to desired temperature. Let rest in a paper bag, in foil for an hour after removing from oven.

August 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGraham Dunn

Yeah, I think I needed to leave it out of the fridge for longer, although it was out for more than an hour. Talking it over with my food safety expert, it is probably safe to take it out early in the morning and allow it to get to room temperature internally before putting it on the grill. The Cook's Illustrated temperatures are interesting, though. Mallard reactions don't start until around 310 (according to cooking for geeks), so I was thinking about starting higher, (275-300), but once I reach 160 internal (denaturing the connective tissues) then reduce the heat to minimum (which was about 225) and then leave the meat at that temperature for long enough convert the denatured connective tissues to gelatins. Using time at 160 to determine doneness, not final temperature, which I think is just a proxy for time once temperature is above 160.

August 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterDarin

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