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pulled pork - is this a problem

Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I'm cooking 6 pork shoulders on 2 eggs. They have maintined their temp all night. I know this because I was up checking on them every 1.5 hours.

I just went out and checked the temps of the butts. On one egg, two are in the 165 range and one is 193. I'll pull that one soon.

On the other egg, they are MUCH lower temps and one butt is reading 138 in several places, 141 in other places. Should I toss that butt since it obviously was lower than 140 for a LONG time. wouldn't any bacteria that formed be killed once it gets to a higher temp? The other two butts on that egg are only in the mid 150 range.

what to do, what to do...

Comments

  • One one hand:

    Bacteria growth releases toxins that do not go away if you kill the bacteria later, so you can't use the argument that the bacterial will be killed later.

    On the other hand:

    If you are SURE the 2nd egg maintained temp all night (have you checked your dome thermometer), maybe that one butt plateaued at around 138/141. I've not seen it happen that low, but maybe... The 140 degree food safety mark is probably not a solid line. The 40/140 range is where bacteria grow the fastest. If your butt was at 138 for an extended period of time, then maybe the risk is small.

    One mitigating factor is that SMOKE is a food preservative measure also, and that makes BBQ tend to be more safe than other preparation methods from a bacterial growth perspective.

    In the end, you will need to make the call as to whether you think it is safe to use that cut though...

    Don
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    Gwen --

    No problem. Your logic is indeed correct. Once those butts get up to 200 F, any little nasties in them will be long gone. Remember, too, that your predominant problem is surface bacteria, and the surface of your meat has been bathed in a 225-250 F bath of sweet, sweet smoke since you put it in the Egg.

    Matt
  • Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
    I checked both therms yesterday in boiling water. One was very close, the other was reading slightly under, so that means the temp is actually higher than it's reading, right?

    At one point in the night, one egg had dropped to almost 200 reading but it wasn't for more than 1.5 hours because I checked often. Oddly, that is the egg where the butts are up in the 190 and 165 ranges.

    They usually plateau in the 160ish range, right?

    I suppose those 2 in the 150 range could be plateauing there, but I think I'm going to toss that other butt. Damn! Such a nice large hunk of meat. I would have thought not tieing would have cooked the butts quicker too.

    I just can't figure out the discrepancy in those butt temps. I'd cooked a lot of pork butt and never had this happen.
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    I would have thought not tieing would have cooked quicker too, but as Matt said, it is the surface you need to be concerned with. -RP
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,229
    The danger is if the meat is in an environment that is under 140, not that the meat itself is under. If they are bone-in butts, the only place the nasties would be is on or very close to the surface. Assuming your dome temp was anywhere above 200, the meat surface was sterilized long ago.

    If the butts are boneless, that might be a problem, because when they were be-boned, there could have been a small chance of inserting some germs.

    Once the flesh comes up to 180 for a few minutes, most of the bad stuff will die if there is any. But any toxins they have produced will not go away until much higher temperatures are reached. While most poisons fall apart around boiling temp, Some staph produces toxins that don't disintegrate until over 250 F.

    The hazard from food born toxins is much greater for children and elders, so if you have any doubts about the meat, and those groups will be eating it, you might want to dump the dubious meat.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,934
    i asked this same question about 8 years ago and got my butt kicked all around the forum. :laugh: all i did is ask the question :laugh: i ate it. next time cook at 250 dome to get them up to temp quicker, even a little hotter to start with with three in there, that became my routine for alot of years. below 250 its pretty much impossible to get the internal up to 140 degrees in 4 hours, but thats not really the problem, its the surface temps that need to get there. in your case you have boneless butts, alot of surface is rolled up inside, im betting the meat temp in the folds is up to temp and with the salt from the rub and the smoke its safe. people uesed to cook these at 200 to 225 here and none was thinking about the internal temps and they never made 14o in 4 hours. dont remember anyone getting sick back then either. i would raise the temps up and keep cooking. if your really concerned with the sloe cooking one open it up and check the temp close to the surface
  • Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
    The surface temps are much lower than the internal temps. The surface temps on that lower butt are not even at 130 yet.

    The crowd will be adults in their 40 and 50s and a bunch of teen boys who are leaving for college in a few days/weeks.

    I was also going to send some on a camping trip with one of my sons and have no idea who would be eating it there. But probably again similar age ranges altho there could be elderly and children I don't know about.

    I'm going to flip the butts over. They are cooking really unevenly due to the not tying thing. Maybe that will even some things out.

    Really undecided what to do about that one butt. Seems like most of you are saying it's okay. I don't know I agree about the temp of the cooking environ versus the temp of the meat. The health dept definitely says the meat has to be above 140. I know because I've been a vendor and had them come test my stuff, as well as taken the class multiple times, etc. They never talk about the cooking environ temp, just the meat temps.

    And we're talking over 12 hours that the meat has been at less than 140!
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,934
    the 4 hour 40/140 rule is about the environment the meat is in, fridge, back seat of the car from market, meat prep, etc. holding cooked meat above 140 is a different scenario imho. havent seen little chef post today, maybe ping or email her. she has a better grasp on safety
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    I spent many years cooking for a living and I cannot state strongly enough how much I would eat that pork butt. I would eat it plain, then with sauce, and then on a sandwich, in a casserole, on a pizza, in ABTs, baked into a quiche, tossed with pasta, stirred into mac and cheese, boiled in a pot of pintos, fried with greens, crisped and crumbled on a salad, and folded into ice cream for dessert.

    Matt
  • Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    I'm waiting for Little Chef to chime in here, but after reading this, I'm leaning towards.....eating it!
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,934
    people have been cooking at those temp and even lower for centuries, they just didnt have all the gadgets we do now.
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    Gwen: (Wow...talk about pressure... :laugh: ) COOK THE SUCKER!! Was it an ideal cook time...no...but you will still be bringing this meat to near 195-200* internal, yes? The 40-140 rule applies to holding food for consumption after it has been fully cooked. Bump the dome to 250*. Remember the grid temp is always lower than dome, so at 200* dome, you may have been cooking in the 170-180* grid range, thus the very slow cook. As long as you are confident the meat has been exposed to a cooking environment this whole time, keep cooking it.
  • Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
    Thanks! I have rotated them all and also flipped them. I'll be pulling that hotter one off the grill soon.
  • But:

    Would you eat it in a house?
    Would you eat it with a mouse?
    Would you eat it with a fox?
    Would you eat it in a box?
    Would you eat it here or there?
    Would you eat it anywhere?
    Would you eat Gwen's butt and ham?
    Would you eat them Sam I am?

    ...with apologies to Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel


    Sorry, I had to do it!
    Don
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    BigGreenDon wrote:
    But:

    Would you eat it in a house?
    Would you eat it with a mouse?
    Would you eat it with a fox?
    Would you eat it in a box?
    Would you eat it here or there?
    Would you eat it anywhere?
    Would you eat Gwen's butt and ham?
    Would you eat them Sam I am?

    ...with apologies to Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel


    Sorry, I had to do it!
    Don

    In a heartbeat!
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