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Cooking times VS tenderness

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by big rob 213, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. I have had this question since I started smoking earlier this year, but so far my searches haven't gotten me any help, so I figured I would ask on here.

    Let me start by saying I have an electric smoker, so maybe that makes a big difference, but here it goes:

    I always hear of people smoking things for hours on end, and as far as I can tell that's supposed to improve taste/tenderness/etc of the meat.  But when I look up recipes, even on here, they always say cook until it reaches XXX temperature.  Most things I have smoked, even on the low setting, reach that temperature fairly quickly, like 2 - 4 hours, when others are saying they are smoking the same piece of meat 12 - 14 hours. You even hear of professionals talking about "the secrete to their award winning taste is smoking it longer".  

    So.... for my questions: 

    When your smoking meat for longer periods of time, are you leaving it in the smoker even after its reached the magic temperature?  Or do you have the temperature so low that it just takes that long to reach that temperature?  

    Im sure its a combo of the two, but if its more the latter, then I'm guessing that would be a drawback to owning an electric smoker.  So what are some ways to make a piece of meat fall off the bone/cut with a plastic spork tender using an electric smoker?

  2. Well if you wanna get longer time in the smoke then put the meat in cold...i usually rub my meat down and get my smoker ready and leave meat in freezer to chill out so to speak..lol. That way I get a longer time in the smoke..especially with chickens. If you're burning up to temp in a couple hours what temp are you smoking at? If I may ask....and are your temps verified?

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  3. And for the record yes, you're gunna want to cook to temp..always.

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  4. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Time at certain temps do something to meats, like brisket....   What foods are you speaking of ....

    Sausage, for instance, needs a lower temp for a long time to get cooked... that is so the fat doesn't melt and "fat out" as we call it here....  

  5. I always cook the meat to the safe temperature. My questions was more for cooking over that temperature, and for how long.  I certainly know not to under cook stuff.
    The owners manual says that the low setting is 200 degrees. It has a thermometer built in on top of the smoker, and on low I can actually keep it between 180 and 190 depending on outside temperatures.  But the whole thing is self enclosed, no smoke or heat gets out, so if it says 180 or 190, thats the temperature it stays.  It doesn't fluctuate at all.
  6. I tried smoking a beef brisket on low, and it reached 190 in a little over 4 hours.  But thats one of the ones I keep seeing people smoke for 10 or more hours.

    I also have done a few pork loins on low, and they are usually to 160 in 2 to 2.5 hours.  Nice and juicy, but not super tender where it would just fall apart.

    Ribs are another thing I have a problem with getting "fall off the bone".  They are usually done in 2 - 3 hours.  I just ran across a few recipies that call for 2 - 2 - 1 and 3 - 2 - 1 smoking times, and I havent tried that yet.  But its on my "to try" list.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To get meats tender, time is a factor also....   I have cooked briskets at 185 for 24 hours and they fall apart....  cooked to 205 in 10 hours and they still can be tough...   Each piece of meat cooks differently also...  This whole smoking thing is a long, involved learning process...  there are no "quick fixes" sorry to say....   

    smokaplata likes this.

  8. Well I'm all for experimentation. Especially when it means eating the test results! Just looking for some pointers.
  9. little smokey

    little smokey Smoking Fanatic

    I would verify the temp of the smoker itself using another therm and also calibrate the therm before using it on your meat.  How large was the brisket that was done in 4 hours?
  10. I agree. Sounds like the stock therm may be running at a higher temp than what it's reading. 
  11. dougmays

    dougmays Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yea you might want to test your builtin thermo with another like a oven thermometer. Also how big was  your brisket or other larger cuts of meat. The reason we cook things for "longer hours" is because bigger meats like pork shoulders and briskets have alot of muscle and fat that needs to break down. usually a minimum of 1.5-2 hours per pound. You can decrease these times by increasing the heat but for proper tenderness you want IT (internal temp) of the meat to be well above 180 degrees. 
  12. The brisket was 2.5 - 3 pounds.

    Next time I smoke, I will verify the temp on the built in with a second thermometer and let you know how accurate it is. Thanks for your help!
  13. dougmays

    dougmays Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    That's a smaller brisket so your looking at 4-6 hours depending on temps, so that explains your quick times. When people on here mention cooking for 10+ hours they are usually smoked 10+lbs briskets and 6+lbs shoulders 
  14. tbstbs

    tbstbs Newbie

    “----I also have done a few pork loins on low, and they are usually to 160 in 2 to 2.5 hours.  Nice and juicy, but not super tender where it would just fall apart.----“


    Meat shrinks more the higher the temperature, which means tougher meat. The meat may fall apart, but still tough. “Low & Slow” is what makes juicy tender meat.


    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  15. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If your meat is cooking significantly faster than others experience using the same cut?

    I'll offer another vote for verifying your actual smoker temps.

    Stock thermos have a poor reputation on many units.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  16. Dave..its that "involved learning process" part....lol.....means we won't be getting hungry any time soon....LOL.....

  17. BigRob.......The most important part of this is This.....Don't get disgusted and give up....You will get it one day and you will be Fat and Happy...all those briskets, ribs, chicken and Butts you Had to Eat.....many would say that is the Down Side...us Smokers would say....pass me some more of that Brisket please....right Daveomak.....LOL....Happy Smokin.....and if your gonna get mad make sure your "Smokinmad"....Oh wait...Thats Me....LOL...

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  18. bikenstein

    bikenstein Fire Starter

    Just boil your meat for an hour before you smoke it
  19. Blaspheme! If you par boil meat the terrorists win. LOL
  20. Down with the ninja meat boiling terrorists!