Nerding out with SmoBoT: Part II

There’s really only one question to be answered when you write a post like the one I wrote yesterday: how did the meat turn out? In a word? Delicious. You’re not going to get off that easy, though. There will be more words. But first, a picture.

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Worth a thousand words. The calorie count is much higher, however.

So it wound up being pulled pork and not sliced pork, but it’s not like that’s a problem. The reason is simple. Fatty tissues start to convert to gelatin at around 160-degrees Fahrenheit. It keeps happening as long as you stay above that temperature. The data show that the outer part of the butt hit 160 around 3:30 AM and the center reached that an hour later. I don’t pull it off the heat for another 12 hours. There was no way there was going to be enough connective tissue strong enough to allow slicing. I used Bear Paws to lift it off the grate and it held together just fine. It was when I tried to slice it that it started to shred. So I went with it.

One thing this cook has taught me is that I am now very suspicious of target temperatures. Some temperatures you have to be conscious of. You have to be aware of 40 – 140F because it’s the danger zone for bacterial growth. 140F is the temperature around which meat will quit taking in smoke. I’ve already talked about what happens to fat and connective tissue at 160F. After that? You’ll get browning and the Maillard reaction faster once you get above 170 or so, but it can happen at lower temperatures. In terms of getting the result you want, hitting a temperature is only half the battle. Holding that temperature has an effect as well. Normally people talk about the target temperature for pulled pork to be 190 or above, but I never got close to that. I may have hit the high 180s when it was wrapped and stashed in the cooler, but that was it. But the cook laster 20 hours. Of course it was pulled pork.

I tend to go light on the smoke with only a half-dozen wood chunks in the entire load of fuel. Given their distribution throughout the lump there’s always plenty left. One thing I was happy that I did this time is letting the pit come up fully to temperature before putting the meat on. That let the smoke get cleaned up. It was dark by the time I put the butt on, but the smoke was nearly transparent. That’s really what you want. I hate seeing people put meat on blllowing smokers. You only get heavy particulates with incomplete combustion. A layer of ash isn’t what you’re going for. At that point you might as well eat the lump. I don’t obsess about lump that much. While I’m glad a site like the Naked Whiz exists, I can get by just fine with Kroger lump. In fact, it’s pretty good.

The other component of the meal were the rolls. Here they are.

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I didn’t make them into smooth balls, but the texture was very good. These rolls are starting to turn me into a bun snob. They are tender, but they have some staying power.

The last picture is kind of funny.  As I mentioned before, I used a set of Bear Paws to get the meat off the smoker. While bringing everything upstairs I managed to drop one on the stairs to the basement.  It went bouncing down and I cussed a little about having to go back down later to get it. I shouldn’t have worried.  Our cat Dunkel, for whom everything is a toy, thought it was great that I gave him something new to play with.  So he brought it upstairs for me.

He got some pork for his efforts.

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