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Overnight Smoker Temp Drop

Bbqray

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Joined Jun 29, 2020
First post and first time trying my hand at an overnight cook.

Got my Kamado Joe to 220 and put two Boston butts (boneless) on at 8:34 pm. One had a probe the other didn’t. Before heading to bed, checked the butts at 11:30pm and Probe was reading 89 degrees.
Woke up at 7:15 am and the grill temp dropped to 180 and the probe was reading 125. Got the joe back up to 250 and probe is at 140.

question for you all: safe to cook to 200 and go through the whole resting process, or cut my losses and toss them both out?
 

sandyut

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if I am following you correctly, the lowest grill temp was 180? if thats true, keep on cookin NO PROBLEM - carry on.
 

sandyut

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oh yeah, and welcome to SMF
 

thirdeye

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I hate to see the "Help, my fire went out" posts, but you at least have some good background information. Here is the deal, you worry about killing surface bacteria, because in most cases the inside of a whole muscle roast has not been exposed to surface bacteria. Do you happen to have any photographs of the roast at 7:15?

If you were using your dome thermometer only, not measuring the actual temp at the grate, they generally read high on a kamado, so you could have been cooking at 200° and the 7:15 pit temp might have been 150° - 160° ish. If you are using a digital meat probe, they are more accurate for those readings.

So, here is how I see this situation. There is a pretty high chance the surface of your butts got higher than 140° and that took care of the surface bacteria. There is a good chance your internal temp also reached 140°+, which is important in your case. From experience I bet your fire starting dying by 3 or 4 am, and ramped down until you found it at 7:15 am.

In your case, roasts with the blade bones removed have had some activity in and around the horn muscles, and bacteria could have been introduced. Looking at your times and temps I believe you had high enough internal temps to get above the danger zone (41° to 140° in 4 hours or less), but you slipped back into the danger zone for a couple of hours before you recovered the pit temp and moved back to safety. This is a borderline situation for sure.

If you were cooking on a steel pit like a kettle or bullet, I may have a different opinion, but a kamado with all that mass and insulation properties takes a long time for actual temps to fluctuate. If all of your information is correct, I believe you have a 70% to 80% chance that all the baddies were killed and you will be okay. I might not serve to the public, or the elderly or anyone with compromising health conditions, but I would take the chance. I'm sure others will chime in as well.
 

Bbqray

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Joined Jun 29, 2020
Thank you for the replies. To my knowledge, the grill temp was 180 and internal temp of one of the butts was reading 125.
At 7:15 the butts had a bit of the bark forming.
It’s now 10:04, done temp is 250 and meat is reading 167
 

thirdeye

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Hopefully you will never need this tip, but if you ever have fire or smoke issues, move you food into the oven.... then get the smoker squared away. Even if it takes 90 minutes for you to restore a quality cooking fire, the roast will not skip a beat.
 

sandyut

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looks like your butts are back on track! post up when done with pics.
 

TNJAKE

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I agree with thirdeye. You are PROBABLY ok. If you are gonna sleep through cooks then you need a ambient probe setup that will connect to your phone and alarm you if pit temp drops or rises. Inkbird has them and are sturdy and affordable. Alarm is loud as hell. Then you can avoid this issue. A cold pit is bad.....a burned down pit is worse. Be safe and keep us posted on your cook
 

dr k

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Like chef jimmyj mentions in his pinned thread in the food safety forum, if the meat is intact it doesn't matter if it takes 4 or 24 hours to get up to 140. The intact meat has the bacteria on the outside and it was pasteurized in the first hour if the smoker was at 220.
 

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