View Full Version : Probe doneness

11-07-2013, 07:59 AM
We get a lot of threads on here asking when something is done. Each of us have our own theories/processes that work for us and so forth. For example, I am a hard-nosed "its done when it probes like butter" kind of guy.

But I got to thinking... I know there have been times I have pulled stuff that probed tender, but not as tender as it could have been. Other times I have been busy, forgot or what ever and the Q stayed on longer than I originally anticipated and it turned out marvelous.

This lead me to wonder... In relation to full packer brisket and/or pork butt... how hard do you have to work at it to OVER COOK either of those items? Maybe I have missed these threads, but I seldom hear of "oh my brisket is over done". It is usually the opposite, the brisket is tough cause it is under-cooked or the pork was tough cause it didn't go as long as it should have.

I am sure it has been done, but I just think it would be hard to do unless you are cooking hot and fast and keep it on WAY too darn long.

Kave Dweller
11-07-2013, 08:04 AM
I know I have over done a brisket to the point where you can't slice it without it falling apart and done a but to the point that it has the consistency of mashed potatoes. Neither tasted bad, but competition wise, tenderness took a hit on both.

11-07-2013, 08:05 AM
About 1/2 hour to an hour past done and brisket will start to get crumbly. It will still taste fine and be plenty moist, but slicing becomes a problem. It takes a lot of effort to overcook a butt, and as hard as I have tried I have never made it to that point. Not resting long enough is another story. :roll:

John Bowen
11-07-2013, 08:38 AM
In the past I have had problems with over cooking brisket because I did not vent it long enough before I wrapped it to rest. It would probe just fine then I would wrap it and put it in a cooler only to find out it kept cooking and fell apart when I sliced it. Now I let it sit un covered for at least 10 min or so.

Funny side note - at a comp last year we over cooked our brisket - I had a nightmare of a time getting 6 slices out of a 14lb packer to turn in and we finshed 11th in brisket out of 98 teams - go figure.

11-07-2013, 09:33 AM
Brisket can be fickle depending on A) the briskets quality & B) the cooking temp. While all briskets are graded just because it may carry a Choice stamp where in the guidelines did the Cow fall Lower down the easier it is to have an "ut oh" I think I waited to long!
Cooking H& F IMO gives a bigger window to not over cook one because you need a longer rest time.
Pork butts I don't use a probe I go by the Bone as it is more right than the probe; the last place on a Butt to give it up is closest to the bone, so if the bone is loose and wiggles easily it's done. Probing you will hit spots that in your mind say "Yeah baby this gonna be Good" only a few hrs later to be disappointed because the meat closest to the bone is still firm.
As for over cooking one they are forgiving but a long carry over on a loose bone butt if not vented will give you pork mush which is good for Tamales, Burritos & Paposas so it aint a total loss.

Terry The Toad
11-07-2013, 02:20 PM
I once read an article online about the "18 hour brisket". So, I stayed up one night and cooked one from about midnight till 6pm the next day. It looked like a chunk of coal at that point. And, it fell apart when "slicing", but it tasted fine! :-D

I think Bludawg is right about pork butts - trust the bone. But, even though I know that, I still manage to get impatient. The other day, I was near the end of cooking a butt and I needed to move it just a bit to reach some other meat. The whole thing just felt "wiggly" like it was ready to fall apart. So, I took it off to rest. Well, it was NOT ready. When I started to pull it I gave the bone a tug - and it didn't want to come out easily. There were tender pieces - and some tough pieces. You just can't get impatient when smoking! :doh:

11-07-2013, 03:16 PM
Bludawg gave me the same advise (pull of the bone doesn't lie). Thermometers do though...!

11-07-2013, 07:12 PM
I have way overcooked a butt (fell asleep) and it was still fine. But I planned to make pulled pork anyway. I have overcooked several briskets a little and they were fine too for eating pulled brisket. Probably less forgiving than a pork butt though. The hard part for me is cooking that brisket right up to maximum tenderness while still being able to slice it without it falling apart. Falling apart brisket is not good for a comp. Kind of like fall off the bone ribs. fine to eat. Not desirable for competition. I have never over cooked a butt or brisket to the point is was ruined for eating..... yet.