Originally Posted by LAV25
Originally Posted by forluvofsmoke
You could actually wait to put the probe into the meat, and if it's not injected/stuffed, etc, that will buy you some extra time on the internal temp if the meat is intact whole muscle.
Question: What is the advantage of putting the probe in later? Does it change how quickly the meat itself heats up (like when you run spikes through a baked potato?) I thought that it simple recorded the temp, and, given the design of my smoker, I try really hard not to open it up unless I absolutely have to. A few seconds open can cost me 20-30 degrees of air temperature.
If you have intact whole muscle meats when cooking low & slow, you don't need to adhere to the danger-zone temp/time guideline of 41-135*/4-hrs to be considered safe to eat. It's just a trick that many of the more experienced smokers have taken advantage of. For fresh/un-cured meats, if you have a cut of meat that you didn't inject with marinade or other solutions, cut into the meat for deboning, or insert a temp probe before pasterizing the surface of the meat (a few hours of hot smoking), then, you don't need to worry about the internal temp/time issue.
Example: if you have a boneless whole pork shoulder, the meat is no longer considered intact whole muscle, as it has been cut into the meat to remove the bone, folded over to hide the bone cavity. Even if a USDA inspected facility and meat was processed this way, there is a chance for bacterial contamination at the site of the cuts in the meat. The more cuts there are, the higher the risk. Ground or tenderized meats are of the highest risk for contamination. These situations are when USDA recommends following the 41-135*/4-hr guideline.
If the meat has not been tampered with in any way (internally), including injections of brine such as with many cuts of pork (cryovac packed) and most poultry (injected and previously frozen)...now, I'm talking about what is available in grocery stores here in the states...but, if it's not tampered with, you can forgo the temp/time guideline.
I do see where it can be a problem for your smoker with dropping temps so much, but it's an option to consider if you thought you may not get through the 41-135* temp range in 4 hours, then you could just leave the meat temp probe out for a couple hours, as long you had intact whole muscle meat to begin with.
If you're buying fresh cuts of meat in Japan, you'd be good to go with that plan, as you'd have intact whole muscle meats.
EDIT: just to clarify, a boneless pork loin is still intact whole muscle meat, as the bone was not removed from the center of the cut of meat, but instead from the outside.