holy christ. once again we completely agree, but you don't see that i am agreeing with you.
a play in three acts:
ACT I: split stage, exterior of two similar and instinct back yards, we see two grills at each end of stage, identical in their ovoid greeness. smell of woodsmoke. the characters share the stage, but are not aware of each other.
faceless narrator: "steven and stike, at their own homes, and unbeknownst to each other (that means they dunno wtf the other is doing) each decide to both cook four identical 7-pound butts at 250."
"both notice after putting them on that, gee, the BGE is taking a long time to return to 250. in fact, it takes each cooker an EXTRA hour longer than it does when they cook a single butt."
steven and stike: (together, but unaware of the other) "hmmmm", they both think... "dinner is going to be an hour later than i thought".
ACTII: exterior, evening. smoke is chuffing gently upward from each grill. we hear exaggerated sizzling sounds. smell of pork fat should be wafted into the theater if possible, mixed with the woodsmoke to heighten the effect.
Narrator (with narrator's description acted out by steven and stike): "as the cook progresses, and the vagaries of fat, ambient temps, etc. come into play, stike wanders his front yard, kicking dirt, and ranting to himself that his pork is now going to take an hour longer than he thought. he screams profanities at passing motorists, and in frustration, begins drinking heavily, calling ex-girlfriends and old bosses on the phone. ranting at them as though the extra time is their problem and not a reflection of his own failed career and life and alcoholic loneliness.
steven, 1500 miles away in another country, shrugs and decides he's in no rush anyway. the extra hour won't hurt things."
ACT III: late evening, crescent moon appearing at center stage, between each grill.
Narrator: (again, steven and stike act out the narration, each unaware of the other) "putting down his bible and cherry coke, to check his maverick wireless probe, steven finds his cook done at 17 hours, when he determines they are at his 'perfect' temp (sadly, we do now know what that temp is, just that he considers them 'done'). he takes them off the grill and carrie them into his mid-century modern home, designed by Neutra, and furnished with period pieces he has collected over the years. his stunning wife praises the look of the pulled pork, and his guests regale him with praise. he no longer is upset that his cook took an extra hour.
back at stike's double-wide, we find him stamping his foot. gawdammit. the cook is now only just finishing up at his perfect 'done' temp for pulled pork. 16 hours!. that extra hour really screwed him up. he angrily plops the pork into a cheap foil pan, drunkinly stumbles into the 'house' past the wooden home made screen door hanging off one hinge, kicks aside the cat who wants in and the dog who wants out, and yells at the freeloading inlaws to come get the dinner and to not even DARE complain that it is an hour late.
stike is mad. his cook took 16 hours. steven's happy. his only took 17."
steven and stike move to center stage, recognize each other, hug, holding one hand between them, they turn to audience and exult together, in shared revelation Narrator; "the moral of the story..."
steven and stike together (still holding hands, stike weeping, but happy; steven wiping stike's tears with free hand and an oven mitt) "he who tries to time pork butts to the hour is on a fool's errand. you can't control all aspects of the cook, and trying too will turn you into an angry drunken frustrated old man."
they turn, exit stage left, as steven puts his arm around stike's shoulder. pats twice
fade out and quickly fade in, spot on center stage, under the moon. a small dead tree, small dirt mound
enter Estragon stage right. (sits and tried to take off boot): "there is nothing to be done"
(steven: did you like how i mixed it up and reversed who was who ?)
mightyquinn.... sadly, not the way bacteria work. if a piece of meat is truly funkified bacterially, you can't make it better by cooking it to 195. bacteria would be dead, but their toxins remain. bacteria can make you sick by multiplying in your gut (and releasing toxin) OR by poisoning you with their toxins which remain on the food after you kill them anyway. your reheating to 190 killed them and kept them from multiplying in your gut, but you can still be sickened.
my rationale is based on a couple things:
1.) his meat was at 130 twenty minutes after lighting the grill again. guess what. that 130 is LOWER than when he relit the fire. meat will continue to lose temp after cooling just as it will gain temp when you take it off the grill. thermal inertia in action. toss a cooling piece of meat on a grill and it doesn't immediately about-face and rrse in temp. you'll see the grill temp rise even as the meat temp goes down. his meat at 130 only 20 minutes after going back on? it didn't get to 130 by reheating quickly. it got to 130 by cooling from some higher temp.
2.) the danger zone rule is designed for food resting on a counter, being served, handled, etc. not for food sitting in a sterile chamber after having been sterilized. the USDA wants to keep it simple and memorable. so "four hours between 40 and 140". well, check the asterisks, and you can make it safe a number of ways, all too complicated to teach to a kid in a hairnet working for minimum wage. the food was 'pasteurized' (yes, that's the term, not just for milk) by being held at 250 for so long. especially when you realize that the bacteria we care about aren't just any bacteria (bacteria in general! oh! my! god!), but FECAL bacteria, bacteria spilled from the gut (potentially) during slaughter, and which may (may) have come in contact with the exterior of the meat. e. coli and listeria and the truly worrisome stuff are going to be found on the exterior, not the interior. and they were long gone from this dude's pork butt a few hours after midnight at latest, if there at all
3.) bacteria from the thermometer? well.... doubtful, though hypothetically possible. thermometers don't push stuff into meat, they push the meat aside, which would wipe it off closer to the surface. i could see somehoe imagining it might happen, but that's a level of paranoia i would find immobilising. if i thought that way, i'd never drive anywhere. 1 in 5000 chance i'm killed driving to go get the butt in the first place.
4.) salt, smoke, heat are all inhospitable to bacteria. let's say the butt was doing fine at 2 am, but somehow the fire died instantly, and the thing rocketed down to 100 degrees, allowing the dreaded "four hours of exposure between 40-140". what bacteria exactly are there to 'reinfect' the meat? this is why the rule usually addresses food being held at temp (like in a buffet line, where you can cough on it), but which is often ignored when the rule is quoted. if someone slaughters a pig infected with dangerous e. coli (not just e. coli, but the bad strain, because you have e. coli on your toothbrush right now, i guarantee), and that fecal matter splattered onto your pork but at 3am while the fire was out, then i'd be worried. otherwise? meh. forge on.
sure, it's wordy and a bit of a rant. but i'm avoiding quarterly taxes, and that's my call. hahaha
but just as my wordiness may be attacked for being too complicated, i'd say "four hours between 40 and 140' may be attacked for being too simple. if a person can't explain WHY, then the whole "better safe than sorry" thing is a quote about ignorance, not safety. i don't mean 'ignorance' as in stupid. no sir. i mean it in the sense of "well, i don't know, so i say throw it out". tossing food in the trash is a luxury most of the world doesn't have, and is just as much a sin (to me) as feeding rotten meat to the elderly and biting your nail the whole time wondering if they'll die. in both cases, ignorance is not bliss.