smoker went out over night *butt* it was ~ 30 degrees outside - safe to try to salvage?

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by a2karl, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. Bring them back up to temp in the oven and inform my friends of what happaned

    0 vote(s)
  2. Take no chances - throw out the meat

    0 vote(s)
  1. a2karl

    a2karl Newbie

    Hey all,

    Last night I got some boston butts on my weber bullet smoker at about 10pm. Checked the temp before I went to bed at 1am and it was 225.

    This morning I woke up at 9 and the smoker had gone out completely, no idea for exactly how long. The internal temp of the meat was 110. My best guess based on previous overnight smokes (which were successful, guess that's why I got cocky enough to not check for 8 hours) is that the temp got up to 150 or so, the fire went out, and by the time time I checked the temp had sunken back down to 110 in the cold.

    Anyways, I know under normal circumstances leaving meat at room temperature for this long would be unsafe. But given they were outside and it is cold, any advice or wisdom as to whether it would be safe to try to bring the shoulders back up to 190 in the oven today? I guess the question is whether the air temperature *inside* the smoker hovered in the danger zone for too long as the coals went out.


  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm that's a tough one. Without knowing how long it was in  the danger zone it's hard to give accurate advice. The part I don't like is you are feeding it to friends. If it was just you well you know the risks and if you eat it and get sick that was your choice but if you are serving it to friends is it really worth someone getting sick? You are going to feel pretty bad if that happens. Regardless what you decide I think you need to inform them so they can choose weather they want to eat it or not. That is unless someone can give you some concrete info saying that it is safe for sure.

    Would it probably be fine? If I had to guess I'd say yea. But the risk is still there in this instance. Those are my thoughts. Hopefully JJ will see this post soon and give his advice on it.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Karl, morning... I'm no expert... but listening to the experts here, whole muscle can take longer than 4 hours to get to temp as long as it wasn't compromised by puncturing etc., introducing bacteria through the surface into the muscle....

    All things given, time, temperatures in the smoker and the outside air, I would not have any concerns eating it myself.... now guests is another mater.... The interior of the smoker is probably "sanitary"... the exterior of the meat is sanitary.... it is the interior that may be the problem....

    One thing you could do is get the oven preheated, 350 or so to reheat in a short time..... slice the butts open to visually inspect the interior of the meat.... and if you are satisfied it looks like it came up to 140*deg at some point in the smoking cycle, I would wrap in foil, add some liquid and bring up to pulling temp if that was your plan....

    Now, if you have any concerns as to the temp the meat got to...  $20 worth of meat is not worth getting sick, or worse.... It costs more than that in gas to get to the hospital....

  4. a2karl

    a2karl Newbie

    Hi guys, thanks for the quick responses.

    Good call on cutting into it, I just pulled one of the shoulder out of the oven and it does in fact appear to be cooked through which tells me the meat came up to 150 or 160 at some point in the night. The smoker was at a steady 225 before I went to bed, so based on past smokes, my guess is it took about 6 hours to get there. That would leave the meat sitting out, after being fully cooked, for up to 2 hours.  2 hours in a chilling smoker sounds like enough time to bring it down to 110.

    So in theory this sounds like I have a shot, but I still hate the uncertainty surrounding the situation. I'll leave the meat in the oven for now and mull it over and see if there are any other definitive responses - I might just have to make some buffalo wings for the superbowl party instead :)

  5. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's just it. You are probably fine and wouldn't have any issues but there is that uncertainty that is still there.
  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    This is probably horrible  advice but how long does it take for the affects of food poisoning to come on? It's usually somewhat quick isn't it? Like say a few hours or so? (I may be wrong) You could eat some now and see if you get sick and if you are still feeling fine tonight you could serve it if you feel comfortable. Like I said this probably isn't the best advice or the best way to test it out but I am just thinking out loud. I have never had food poisoning so I  am not sure how long it takes to kick in for sure.
  7. a2karl

    a2karl Newbie

    Ross, haha, I appreciate the creativity. Makes me think, I do think one viable option would be to proceed, try it myself, but not serve it at the party, and assuming I don't get sick by tomorrow, food save the rest and have it for leftovers.

    Based on reading more on food safety, once meat is fully cooked, it's safe to sit even at room temp for 2 hours, so I feel like the odds of food poisoning are very low. But serving it at a party to friends is another matter, and I'd rather just come up with a plan B then to have to pose the party pooping dilemma about whether to trust the meat or not.
  8. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd go with the safe bet and figure something else out for the party. Is it for a superbowl party? You might have enough time to throw together a fatty or something  like that so you can at least bring something smoked.
  9. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    When in doubt, throw it out!

    The truth is that you do not know what happened, IMHO you should not jeopardize anyones health on a guess.

    This kind of thing happens so frequently that maybe we all need to be reminded not to trust to chance on overnight cooks and set the alarm and get up and check the fire.JM2C.
  10. smokinal

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

    I would PM Chef Jimmy J before you throw it out. I think there's a very good chance it is safe to eat. But you need an expert opinion on this & he's the man.
  11. terry colwell

    terry colwell Smoking Fanatic

    You can always get new friends,,,,j/k j/k [​IMG]
  12. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a few questions before I chime in with my opinion. My questions are in red
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Based on the information provided...I would not serve it to guests because you are not 100% sure of it's safety...And there is time to get something else going...

    I would cook and eat it myself... IF...I didn't Inject it and I followed all safe handling and storage procedures and I washed the meat before I applied a Salty Rub and all family members were in good health...You are probably ok...JJ
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  14. a2karl

    a2karl Newbie

    Thanks again all for the responses. I ended up just not risking it, partially because I didn't feel like going through all the extra work to only try it for myself and risk getting sick. I smoked some chicken breasts instead and brought smokey chicken salad to the party - no pulled pork but it was a hit!

    Sprky, to answer your questions, I'm not sure what the meat temp was before I went to bed, but the lid temp was at 225 at midnight. It had been holding steady around then for about an hour (I put the butts on at 10pm). I used the minion method  with just over a full chimney of coals plus 40 bricks to kick it off. In the morning the coals had gone to ashes, not smothered, so I think the smoker had probably remained at temp until 7 or 8am. Just can't be sure. In the past, that much charcoal using the minion has been plenty to make it through the night.

    I nudged one of the vents a tad more open (maybe from 1/8th to 1/4) since the temp was at 225 and I figured it could use a little more heat during the cold night - maybe that was the mistake and the smoker ran too hot with too much oxygen and burned out?

    In any case, lesson learned - don't leave the smoker unchecked for quite that long (maybe 6 hours max?), and don't mess with the vent right before going to bed.
  15. sunman76

    sunman76 Master of the Pit

    Sounds like you made good call[​IMG]  If someone would have got sick it would have been not so good for your "Q" reputation....[​IMG]

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