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Temperature Fixation?

BBQfan1BBQfan1 Posts: 562
edited 12:06PM in EggHead Forum
I've been following the Forum and learning alot over the past few months, but there is one question that I've been hesitant to ask. Curiosity has gotten the best of me, so here goes: Why do many posters have a fixation on the internal temp of their butts/briskets/loins etc? Now, I'm smart enough to know that internal temp is extremely important in warding off bacteria etc, and I use a meat thermometer to ensure meats have reached a safe eating temp, but given the heats we generally use (210-250 for low and slow)with the addition of smoke and 10-20 hour cooking times, why the constant monitoring of internal temp? These Poldar thermometers I see in picture posts look like the meat is on life support! I was drawn to bqing by a book written by two guys who went around and tasted 'que from across the US, interviewing the pitmasters about their techniques and secrets. Most used the 'how long can I hold my hand over it' fire thermometer, and the 'it's done when it's done' cooking time thermometer. I thought this was the way 'true que' was done, and represented the 'art' of barbecuing. I'm not knocking these Poldars any other thermometers, but feel they are akin to using a fish finder when fishing or a dating service when looking for a mate; all perfectly legal, but take the sport out these pursuits! I'm not asking anyone to 'defend' these devices, but if they're not for safety's sake, what's their great benefit? Open to all opinions on this one.


  • GfwGfw Posts: 1,598
    BBQfan1, I've only been using the BGE since September and in the beginning, I used the polder from start to finish - the first butt (see other post) had the polder in it as I put it on the grill. The thermometer gave me, as a beginner, a little extra confidence since I always had something to check. Now after a few months and a few BBQs I find my self less reliant on the polder thermometer and more apt to watch the dome temp and the time. What ever works best!
  • BBQfan1,[p]Pretty easy answer. Two things are important when cooking a brisket or pork butt on an Egg.[p]#1 Hitting a high internal temp so that the connective tissues break down and the meat is as tender as possible. This begins at around 165 - 170 degrees I believe. Probably don't want to go much higher than 200 or the meat will begin to dry out.[p]#2 The other important factor is while cooking on the Egg you want to not open the cooker up until the meat is ready to be pulled off. This is how you maintain such a precise cooking temperature without fiddling around with the vents. Also keeps the meat moist. That's why when you're cooking on an Egg you don't need to mop continuously like you do over a firepit. Mopping is really intended to keep the meat moist rather than to add flavor. Since you don't ever want to open the top the Polder allows you to put the meat in once it's at temperature and then pull it off when done in two simple steps.[p]I use a polder whenever I'm cooking anything larger than a sausage with temps lower than 400 degrees to keep from opening to 'peek'.[p]If I were using a wood-burning pit or cooker where you typically cook with the lid open I wouldn't bother with the polder as you can just jab the sucker every few hours with an instant read thermometer.[p]Just my take =)
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    BBQfan1,[p]Your question is a very good one. I agree that gauges and gadets do detract from the purist form of cooking Que.[p]Many egg owners have never attempted a low and slow cook and may not even know what to look for in the finished meal. A 20 twenty hour cook can be quite intimidating to a newbie. They need to learn long term temperature control, patience, and trust that what they are doing will result in an eatable meal.[p]We are a forum that offers help and assistance in using the egg to cook with. Our goal is a successful cook. We are limited by the fact that we cannot be present during the cook. Until cooking experience is built up, the use of the dome temperature gauge and an internal meat temperature gauge is a great aid to the user as it is a crutch that helps reinforce that everything is going according to plan. For us that are not present, these numbers (combined with cooking time) help us understand where the cook is. Hopefully we can then provide the best advice.[p]Lots of potential purists here.[p]Spin
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    BBQfan1, You got great answers and I think Spin summed it up quite well. Its a learning curve tool. I have two of em in the drawer and there use is becoming less and less frequent. At best I use em at or close to the end of the cook. When one is learning the Q and would like to monitor the event, and maybe graph out a few charts for repeats, the Polder is a essential tool. Time and Temperature are the main weapons for the experienced BBQ'er. [p]I spent 40 bucks each on computer books a while back because I needed a they sit..but they still cost me. So I have em in case I need em. Same with the Polder.

  • BBQfan1,[p] I guess I feel compelled to add my $0.02 here because there are a few things that haven't been metioned yet. First, there are a few things that really benefit from monitoring their internal temperature. One is poultry. I've found it hard to predict by looking exactly where the special point is on a turkey or chicken (especially big ones) where the breast meat is done, but not dried out. By using the Polder, you get a pretty god idea of exactly when to pull the bird off. Also, for thick cuts of meat (mainly roasts), I find the Polder very helpful in knowing when I've reached medium rare. For thinner stuff, the Polder stays in the drawer.[p]MikeO
  • CornfedCornfed Posts: 1,324
    BBQfan1,[p]I think you raise an excellent question and you've drawn some excellent responses. My personal take is to compare your question to the measurements of ingredients in recipes. One reads recipes that call for 1 Tbs of salt and 1/4 cup of this or that but when you're fortunate enough to see some great chefs in action you see that they often just throw stuff in. I've read from Julia Childs and Jacques Pepin that they like to use, for instance, kocher salt since they can easily grab what they know to be a tbs and throw it into a cook. They can feel the difference in their fingers between amounts of ingredients. This, IMHO, comes only from experience.[p]So, to give my opinion to your question, I think the Polder and like tools are very effective measures and tools for cooking. Some experts, or "purist Q'ers," prob don't need to see these exact data points because they know what's going on from experience and from other sensory clues. Tell a new Q'er to either cook a butt "til it's done" or "til the internal temp reads xyz degrees," though, and the new cook will prob do better with a definite, measurable goal.[p]Just my $0.02 of cooking specific, non-email, non-ICQ, non-founder bashing sacred cow monarchy related opinion,

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