Monthly Meat Hack Comp. May 2021

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    This is the next installment of our monthly meat hack competition where we ask you guys for your best hacks on specific problems or situations we all run into in meat processing.

    This month we are going to talk about what we do to your smoker when we know we are in for a long smoke schedule. Think of pork butts or 4" plus diameter sausages.

    Last months winner(s) were glen and cdub2007 for their simple but effective tricks of adding a paper towel to the chamber of the chamberless sealers and using the filler plate to make it easier on the machine!

  • Regular Contributors

    When I cook a brisket I always start the night before in the evening, once it comes time to wrap in butcher paper I just toss it in the oven at the temp I had on the smoker and go to bed. I will wake up at various times in the night to double check the temperature from my bed. Let’s be honest once you wrap anything that you’re cooking your smoker just becomes an oven.

  • Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills Canning Sous Vide Community Moderator

    If I’m doing a long smoke say on a brisket or pork shoulder I will do the following:

    1. Clean out the smoker the night before of old ash, etc, as well as replace foil on heat diffusers on pellet or kamado grill.

    2. Season the night before or if dry salt brining a few days ahead to all the salt to fully penatrate the meat.

    3. Wrap pans holding the meat in foil for easy clean up.

    4. Make sure you have enough fuel for the cook, pellets, wood, charcoal, beer, whiskey, etc.

    5. Use a remote thermometer so you don’t have to babysit the meat all day or night.

  • Regular Contributors

    On a large clod-o-meat, I will set it out and let it get up to room temperature before putting it in the smoker.

    Consider how long it would take for the heat in your smoker to reach the 36 degree core of a 12 lb roast compared to letting the roast reach room temperature first.

    Simple, but it makes it that much faster to reach the target temperature and the cooking will be more even.

  • Team Orange PK100 Sous Vide Power User

    What kind of smoker are you talking about, Jonathon ? Different types take different prep. For anything, I take out anything that can the night before, and I make sure I know where everything else is. I always use a remote thermometer, as well, with one probe keeping an eye on the pit temperature and at least one other probe watching meat temp.

    Offset stick burner-- I just make sure that the cooking chamber and firebox are all cleaned out, that I have the wood I need, and that I have the charcoal I want to start the fire. I most certainly have all my fire starting stuff sitting right by the back door, because the train can’t run without a fire! I start the fire with a chimney load of charcoal to bring the pit up to temp–no sense in using good wood for that. The first stick goes on just before the meat does. I really don’t like running my offset overnight while in bed. It’s not big enough that I can let a fire just go without looking at it too often.

    Pellet Cooker-- Again, I make sure that it’s clean enough inside. If it’s been a while since I last ran it, I’ll probably start it up just to make sure the auger isn’t stuck. I should have already checked to make sure I have all the pellets I want, because the night before is too late! If I want to start at night and then run overnight (which I am happy to do with the pellet cooker), I just load the hopper up to the top, as I know I’ll get several hours of unattended cooking from that. I keep a temp alarm set (low and high), just in case.

    PK 100-- I just make sure it’s still there. LOL. As long as I have power and sawdust, I’m good to go!

    Honestly, I just haven’t seen much use or effect in rubbing or salting very large cuts the night (or morning) before cooking, so I don’t typically mess with that. If I’m cooking on the offset, I probably won’t do any meat prep until I light it, as the meat prep takes less time than it takes to get the pit up to temp. If I am cooking on the pellet cooker, I might go ahead and trim brisket, and I might go ahead and rub large cuts just to get it done. The only thing I cook on the PK 100 is sausage, so making sausage is the prep.

  • Big Green Egg Team Blue Regular Contributors Cast Iron Power User

    I do what was previously said about making sure your grill is clean and will have proper air flow. This goes for my BGE, my Kettles, or my pellet burner.

    My tip is one that can be used on all types of smokers for those long overnight cooks. Make sure you are using an ambient temp probe in the grill that can be set for an alert for a low temp warning. This way you don’t ruin an expensive piece of meat because you had a flame out! It helps with peace of mind if you want to sleep. They also have them with a high temp warning too if your temp runs hot.

  • Team Blue Team Orange Masterbuilt Regular Contributors

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  • Power User PK100 Regular Contributors Team Grey

    samspade i do similar to what you do, however they are asking about long smoke time schedules in the smoker for the topic of this meat hack.

  • Team Blue Sous Vide PK Grills Green Mountain Grill Regular Contributors

    For non-sausage long cooks (so pork butts, briskets, etc), the first thing is to channel your inner Boy Scout, and “Be Prepared.” I will spend the evening before the cook making sure I have everything I need, playing the whole cook through in my head. Then, I do any trimming, etc that I want to do before hitting the sack early so that I get a good night’s sleep and can be “on my game” the next morning.

    However, I’m going to propose that everyone try something, especially if not on a pellet cooker. Try hot and fast smoking. Seriously. Start with a butt, since they’re pretty forgiving and you can’t really do much to hurt them except under cook them. Cook at 300-325. Wrap in foil when the color is right and bark is set (probably 2.5 hours or so), and cook until tender. You will have a higher finishing temp than a low and slow cook, probably 207-212, but go for tenderness. A butt will be done in about 6 hours, meaning you can get up on a Saturday morning, throw the meat on at 10ish, and have pulled pork for dinner. It’s a game changer, and the product is just as good, or better than low and slow.

    If on a pellet cooker, I wouldn’t go above 275, just because at 300 you will blow through some pellets on most pellet cookers on the market. 275 is a great temp and still gets done fast.

    I know that won’t win the competition for the month, as it’s pretty sacrilege, but my challenge is for you to just try it. It’s about the only way I cook now.

  • Big Green Egg Team Blue Regular Contributors Cast Iron Power User

    Midwest_kc I don’t mind doing a turbo cook but if I have the time I still prefer a low and slow cook! But a hot and fast cook is ok on a pork butt.

  • Team Blue Sous Vide PK Grills Green Mountain Grill Regular Contributors

    @ndmike I do it on butt, briskets, ribs…all of it. I can’t tell the difference, honestly, unless we’re talking like an unwrapped brisket with a big thick bark on it, as you won’t get that.

    I think there’s something to pushing through stalls, etc, though to keep moisture in the meat. Instead of subjecting your meat to 4-6 hours of dry heat from the cooker before wrap, get the color, smoke flavor, etc you want, and wrap it up, and push through it.

  • Team Orange Regular Contributors Dry Cured Sausage

    Hack No. 1: for my old as… butt - Take a nap. (I wasn’t able to do this with my last brisket/pork butt and I was so miserable…) So for my long cooks, I’m using a small cheap offset stick burner, I preheat the smoker at least an hour before I want to put the meat in. I want to get the fire stabilized. During that time, I’m finishing trimming the brisket and getting it seasoned. I always use a water pan. It doesn’t matter if I’m making summer sausage or brisket, using my offset or my Masterbuilt if it’s a long cook, I have a water pan in there. Hack No. 2: I usually have a Bluetooth headset on (one that transmits through the bone so I can still hear the fire and my surroundings (and head off the fire department who may have been called for “Smoke in the area” - embarassing.) Hack No. 3: Once I wrap, assuming I am wrapping, it goes into the Masterbuilt to finish. It’s not gonna get anymore smoke at that point so why waste wood and why not reprise Hack No. 1 and take a nap?

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