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Badjak
12-16-2017, 12:08 AM
I see a lot of questions about when (what internal temperature) to remove meat from the smoker.

But can you actually overcook a piece of meat when you cook it low and slow?
Especially if you are going to use if for pulled pork, beef or even mutton or so?
With a water in the water pan it should stay moist, shouldn't it?

Or is this just a daft question and has my brain not woken up yet?

medic92
12-16-2017, 12:27 AM
Pulled pork gets mushy when it's overcooked and there's no real texture to it.

If I cook my brisket perfectly people are happy, but they're ecstatic when I overcook it and the slices crumble for sandwiches.

It's all about personal preference. Judges want one thing, customers want something different entirely. It's been an interesting learning experience.

pjtexas1
12-16-2017, 01:00 AM
You can overcook and water doesn't guarantee moist meat.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

One Drop
12-16-2017, 02:28 AM
Always think about texture and moisture, and the various optimal doneness ranges for a given cut of meat, and the size of the actual cut you are dealing with.

For low and slow cooking of many cuts of pork, for example, there is a large window of doneness after rendering out the fat and breaking down the cell wall of the meat to tenderness, to being dried out and mushy. Other meats have a narrower window of what is considered acceptable or enjoyable.

I cooked for the guests and crew of a Greek owned yacht many years ago, most of the crew was Greek and they asked for all of the meat I prepared to be cooked to well done. it killed me to 'overcook' all this nice fresh lamb I was buying from small local butchers, incidentally just hacked off of a hanging carcass willy-nilly unless I pointed out the muscles I wanted separated. After a week or so they were still complaining about it being undercooked, so in a fit of pique I incinerated their chops to carbon and served them as is. The joy and relief at the table was incredible, I was expecting them to throw it out but they were really happy for the first time and it was a turning point in my relations with the crew going forward.

It was actually a good lesson, and it served to limit my arrogance when imposing standards on other people and as to what is 'correct' or not. In the end a customer or guest, within limits, has a right to eat what they want, and you have a duty to serve them if you are really trying to be hospitable and not just showing off, you will be well served to aim to please rather than impose.

So for the rest of my career, if a customer in a restaurant wanted to put ketchup on a plate of pasta I've made he would not hear a word of reproach from me, anything less is arrogance. Will we snicker and make fun of the person among the cook and wait staff? Of course, but in the end what point is served by refusing them their moment of happiness?


That said, I try to cook the right food for the right people, to avoid situations like this where what you are trying to achieve will never be accepted by your public in the first place.

Cook
12-16-2017, 06:30 AM
Go boil a piece of chicken...twice as long as it actually takes it to get done.

Even cooking IN water doesn't guarantee you can't over cook it.

aks801
12-16-2017, 09:47 AM
...So for the rest of my career, if a customer in a restaurant wanted to put ketchup on a plate of pasta I've made he would not hear a word of reproach from me, anything less is arrogance. Will we snicker and make fun of the person among the cook and wait staff? Of course, but in the end what point is served by refusing them their moment of happiness?


That said, I try to cook the right food for the right people, to avoid situations like this where what you are trying to achieve will never be accepted by your public in the first place....

Man, there's a lot of wisdom there. In the whole post, really. That mindset can be applied to pretty much any business.

Thanks for contributing, I really enjoyed that.

MisterChrister
12-16-2017, 10:16 AM
^^^+1^^^

Czarbecue
12-16-2017, 02:20 PM
All of this reminds me of how my wife and I like our eggs. I like mine sunny side up so I can dip my toast and bacon in the yolk slurry. My wife likes hers over-well... I think that is what it is called. I miss the mark every time I make her eggs because I think it's been sitting on the pan for too long and plate it. But every time she breaks open the yolk it runs, yet she eats it because I made it for her.

Joshw
12-16-2017, 02:37 PM
All of this reminds me of how my wife and I like our eggs. I like mine sunny side up so I can dip my toast and bacon in the yolk slurry. My wife likes hers over-well... I think that is what it is called. I miss the mark every time I make her eggs because I think it's been sitting on the pan for too long and plate it. But every time she breaks open the yolk it runs, yet she eats it because I made it for her.

I'm a runny yolk guy myself, but if you want a perfect over medium egg. Cook low, and put a lid on the pan after adding the eggs. It will cook the eggs from both sides. Once you get the timing, for how she likes her eggs. You will get perfect eggs every time.

mchar69
12-16-2017, 05:27 PM
So for the rest of my career, if a customer in a restaurant wanted to put ketchup on a plate of pasta I've made he would not hear a word of reproach from me, anything less is arrogance.

As noted before, very wise words.
I'm usually a snark, saying - "Here's your hockey puck"
to a dear friend. Everyone else has great steaks.

Badjak
12-16-2017, 10:21 PM
Thanks all, it sort of confirms my thoughts.

@One Drop: I can really relate to your story. I ran into something similar here when cooking stews and curries. If I cook them to the liking of most tourist and expats, the locals find the meat overcooked (they like it to have more of a bite) and vice versa.

Goes to show how different people have different preferences!

Back to my original question: I suppose it just means that the window of doneness is must bigger when cooking a large piece of meat low and slow as compared to a steak over high heat....
Especially when the meat is fatty like pork shoulder, belly etc

Happy Hapgood
12-16-2017, 10:56 PM
What type of meat are you asking about? It varies. I see the 3 you mention but each will be different.

Badjak
12-17-2017, 12:07 AM
It was basically a general question, but specifically for meats to be used for pulled meat: like pork shoulder for pulled pork and I am sure you can do chuck or blade for pulled beef or even a mutton shoulder or neck roast for pulled mutton (I would prefer to leave the lamb for a nice medium roast)

One Drop
12-17-2017, 02:57 AM
It was basically a general question, but specifically for meats to be used for pulled meat: like pork shoulder for pulled pork and I am sure you can do chuck or blade for pulled beef or even a mutton shoulder or neck roast for pulled mutton (I would prefer to leave the lamb for a nice medium roast)

It also depends on the meat, the quality of it, and the cut.

Some beef just gets tough and stringy if you overcook it, pork will get mushy and dry, leaner lamb will get cottony like tender beef does if you overcook it. Older fattier lamb can be incredible pulled, but you don't even see it for sale these day. I've made pulled leg of lamb a few times, it's great but will dry out quicker than a pork butt if you aren't careful!

The window of doneness that I like is in between the time the fat renders out and there is still some bite to the meat and before any residual moisture cooks out. I'm not a fan of fall apart tender for ribs but it's perfect in a pork shoulder, for example, as there is more internal rendered fat in the final product.

I can eat brisket from 'competition' doneness to fall apart mush, as I'm used to eating braised fall-apart brisket from childhood, I just love it, but if it's too dry it's not fun anymore.

We can use al the thermometers in the world and watch all the videos we want, but they won't replace experience in judging the doneness of a piece of barbecued meat. If you have this in mind from the beginning the experience you get will come quicker and be more useful because you are always thinking about how the meat felt when you pulled it, and relate it to how it kept cooking during the hold, for example. It'll also give you the confidence to trust your judgement over what your thermometer tells you, making it a guide to help you gain experience quicker rather than a crutch.

Watch the way pitmasters in the traditional joints move meat around those big pits, they just know by lifting and looking at the pieces where they are in terms of doneness, and no two pieces cook alike so it's a real skill, but one that becomes second nature to them.

I'll say one more thing- IMO cooking low and slow is better for gaining general a feel for doneness than hot and fast, though I'm not saying you can't get great results using that method, from the beginning. There is just less margin for error and more carryover as the meat keeps cooking after being taken off the cooker, which means more variables to take in if you are a less experienced cook.

Badjak
12-18-2017, 12:29 AM
Thanks!
Luckily, I can get lamb/sheep straight from my neighbour. Fed on whatever is around the farm: grass, herbs, small shrubs, everything.
I buy them whole, so can even decide how to cut it up.
They are generally something like 12-14 kg and over a year old, but not as strong tasting as mutton.

I did a neck cut sometime ago and then got distracted.
When we all got hungry, I remembered and got it of the (by then) cold smoker.
The meat was still warm but it definitely rested long enough :wink:
It tasted awesome. We just pulled the meat out by hand and ate straight away