Originally Posted by whitepony99
Hey sorry I didnt see this post yesterday I was so worked up I went right over it, LOL. Thanks but got a quick question, I shouldnt probe my meat for the first several hours? That was my biggest distraction yesterday, that stupid thermo I should have just unplugged it and continued reading my book!!! As it stands I only got halfway through my book and I could have finished it if I would have just let it ride darn it!!!
You know, I recall having some concerns when I was smoking my first couple of larger cuts myself. It's easy to get wrapped up in things and become consumed with tons of questions as to wether or not it will be safe, and if what's happening is normal. Every smoke will present you with something a bit different than the last. It's part of what I think makes smoking meats so interesting...every smoke will teach you something new. And, yes, during my first larger cuts, I was watching my plateau very closely, and there's nothing wrong with doing that...it's pretty interesting to see what may be going on inside that hunk of meat while it's being transformed into your dinner. Just don't let it drive you crazy, 'cause the probe readings can actually drop quite a bit after the stall hits. You may have seen this to some extent yesterday.
If your probe readings were changing with the lid being opened, something's wrong there. For the past 2 years, I've been using Accurite single-probe digi-therms with count up/down timer, time of day, and a temp set-point alarm which is adjustable from 32* to somewhere around 400* (390 something). I routinely use the probe for smoke chamber and meat temp monitoring, so I do wrap the cable with foil to protect it. The count-up timer will run for 24 hours before starting over, if I recall, and it has a braided stainless probe cable, for $22.49 at our local hardware store. The only problems I've had with these were caused by my own lack of attention causing the head unit to drop and break the cable plug-in, or I got one wet from rain and it hasn't worked since. These aren't the best or the most expensive (thankfully), but they serve my purpose very well, so I'm getting a nice & loud bang for the buck. Speaking of the count-up timer, I can't remember ever going over 24 hours on a smoke, though I know I've come close with the 17lb and 18lb beef briskets (full packers) I smoked-up last summer for a family gathering, and there were a few others before that as well. That's going to extremes, but it does happen, and this digi-therm was right there with me all the way from start to finish.
I know it's not easy to do for someone new to the low & slow method of cooking (I've been there too), but there's no real need to probe the meat for quite a while after it's in the smoker. You may want to start your timer just so you have an idea how long it's been smoking as a reference, but as far as the actual internal temp (with whole muscle meats), it's not a critical issue. I guess if your chamber temp were running wild and you didn;t know it, then your I/T will come up faster than we would expect, but otherwise, I see no need to probe something in the first hour when it takes 10 hours to get to a foiling temp, for example.
If you wait for a few hours to probe the meat, that allows you to follow the intact whole muscle time/temp guidelines. If you were to probe too early (within an hour), inject the meat or otherwise insert anything into the meat, it must be treated as non-intact meat. This is where the 4-hr guideline gets more critical.
Also, if you have a bone-less cut of meat, the intact whole muscle guideline just got thrown out the window. One exception I can think of would be if you were to open the roast to expose all the knife cuts so they will begin cooking right away, and leave it this way at least until the internal temp was over 140*, IMO. Doing so would basically get you back to the intact whole muscle meat guidelines. In otherwords, every part of the meat which was contacted by anythying must be exposed during cooking to be considered intact whole muscle meat.
Hope that didn't confuse you even more than you may already be...anyway, the first time out of the gate, a horse can be a bit skittish, and being new to smoking is no different. I think you did quite well considering the circumstances with your temp readings, etc. You had concerns and they were justifiable. Better safe than sorry is a good rule to live by
I get pretty long-winded at times, but I hope this gives you some enlightenment, even though you may not fully understand it all right away, just give it some time to soak in, OK?
Smoke on, my friend!