Temperature, Fat, & Moisture

Discussion in 'Pork' started by vision, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. On a pork butt the higher the temperature you take the butt to, the more tender the meat is. Why is this? Is it because more fat is allowed to break down? At what point do you start to dry out the meat?

    I had a near perfect butt heated to 205 but there was still fat that could have been cooked down. I'm wondering if it had been taken another 5, 10+ degrees if it would have gotten better.
  2. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I dont take them past 200 if I can help it. The texture of the meat gets mushy. 
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I pull mine at 205.
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Cooking a butt to temp is not always a good idea, I've had them done at temps as low as 182°F. When the probe on your thermometer slides in with no resistance the butt is done. Remember pork fat = flavor, don't try to render it all. 
  5. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    All great advice, remember, 

    Fat = Flavor [​IMG]
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I smoked a pork butt to 190* last Monday. It was 3# + and took12 hours. The smoker temp was 200-220. It stalled for over 3 hrs. It was moist, tender and pulled beautifull. I did not wrap in foil, left it in the heat. Stopped the smoke at 150 or so.

    IMSNSHO (in my sometimes not so humble opinion)

    From what I can determine, to get tender meat, the main factor is internal temp above 170 (after the stall) for several hours. The stall is muscle tissue and connective tissue breaking down. That takes time and BTU's. If you can keep the oven temp low for a long period and not evaporate moisture from the meat, you got it made.

    Once the stall is over and done with,(meat temp starts to rise again) you can lower the heat to say 200-210, below the boiling point of water, and the chance of drying out the meat is reduced. Just my observations.
  7. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I think DaveOmak has it right.  It is the amount of time above a certain temp that counts.  The stall may well be the key.  The meat is just absorbing heat -  it has to go somewhere so it is going to breaking down all that fat and collagen.  Maybe we should have a new mantra  "The Stall is Good!"
  8. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I was kinda busy and let the last two I smoked on the 3rd get up to 209/210.

    Didn't hurt them at all..

    Have a great day!


  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Craig, Evening. You have the golden Q thumb. Everything you cook is "golden". The Midas touch, so to speak.
    IMHO you can do no wrong.  [​IMG]  [​IMG]  That goes for smokinAl too. Honey, I need my boots, where are my boots.
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Backing the boys here, In red meat there is Fat and there is Connective tissue.  Intramuscular fat, aka Marbling, contributes to flavor, moistness and tenderness. It is low density and will melt easily. Inter-muscular fat, between muscles, and Subcutaneous fat, aka Fat Cap, is a higher density fat that does melt and "Bastes" meat but requires a High temperature to render completely...Crisp Cooked Bacon. There are two main types of connective tissue that affects meat tenderness they are Collagen, that which holds individual muscle fibers together and also surrounds muscle groups and Elastin, that which connects muscle groups to Bone, aka Silver Skin and Tendon. Low and Slow cooking in the presence of Moisture will dissolve Collagen into Gelatin and the muscle fibers will fall apart, becoming tender and have that "rich mouth feel" we associate with great Pulled Pork.This collagen break down is mostly complete when the meat reaches 190* to 210*F. Elastin is virtually impossable to dissolve and has to be cut away, like the Membrane on the back of ribs! Notice I said, "in the presence of moisture", at 212*F internal temp, the moisture in meat evaporates, collagen breakdown stops and meat dries out and becomes tough as the Protein in the muscle fibers dehydrates and shrinks...becomes Jerky!

    I hope this helps...JJ

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