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Meat Contamination

EubletEublet Posts: 54
edited 9:20AM in EggHead Forum
Okay, this is a follow up thread from my "Butterfly Butt" thread. It seems everyone is caught up on the idea of contamination. I just have to ask...have any of you ever worked in a restaraunt? :-)

Seriously though, the amount of food handling that goes on in that environment is MUCH more excessive than what I'd do at home. Those "food contamination" classes that people have to take to get a food handlers permit are geared for that environment. They're MEANT to scare people into being overly cautious.

Now, I'm not saying that this isn't important. But come on folks. I bring home a butt, split it in half, rub it down, let it sit in the fridge for a few more hours, and then put it on the grill. There is very, very little risk of food poisoning that will arise BECAUSE I butterflied the butt. Any poisoning that I would get would happend REGARDLESS of whether or not I butterflied the butt because it would have been present already because of the way the meat was handled prior to me getting it. Of course if I don't use clean utensils and other things, then my risk is increased. Just assume I'm taking the proper, practical cautions without being a germophobe.

So, back to the meat of the discussion (pardon the pun), does anyone think that butterflying a but would result in the meat not being tender enough? I for one don't think it will matter. After all, ribs get tender in just a few hours. And it's not like I'm going to be fast cooking the things. The butt should still be a good 2 inches thick after butterflying, and I'll be cooking it low and slow of indirect heat. I imagine it should still take a good 10 hours or more to come up to temp. I want more bark, perhaps less cooked bark, so that the meat has a more smoky flavor with less internal mush. One of the drawbacks of a low-and-slow butt to me is that the internal meat can get very mushy if you really give it time for the connective tissues to break down. I want it to be a bit more firm, with more flavor from the external smoke ring.


  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    Go for it. ;)
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Actually, if there are any baddies on your roast, they would be concentrated on the outer surface....until you butterflied it. Then you would introduce them to the interior surfaces. That's why ground beef should be cooked more done than a steak.

    For your other question, I've cooked plenty of country ribs that were cut from a pork butt. They were a lot thinner than the butt and I was able to cook them tender. I've never tried to cook them to a pullable state, so I think that from that angle, the mass of a whole butt would be in your favor.

    If you are experiencing a "mushy" interior on your butts, something in your technique needs adjustment.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i'm with you, man, as far as the bacteria hysteria. i cannot remember a pork or beef recall. yet vegetables seem to be swimming in salmonella...

    anyway, if you want a firmer texture, then take it only to 175 or so. and sure, increasing the exterior surface will give you, well, more exterior to take the smoke and rub, and to form the bark.

    give it a shot. i would say that a thinner piece might allow it to go through the plateau too quickly, but if you don't want it to fall apart anyway, then that's not an issue.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    if he butterflies it, he's only creating more exterior surface. if he rolls it back up, well then the bacteria is introduced to the interior. ;)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • EubletEublet Posts: 54
    But introducing any contaminates to the inside of the butt is irrelavant since I'm butterflying it and roasting with said inside exposed so that those contaminates are quickly killed. It's not the same thing as grinding meat.

    Mushy is a relative term. What I'm really after is more bark and smoke flavor from having a larger surface area. I could just cook the meat to a slightly lower temp to keep it firmer, but it's more bark content that I'm after.
  • EubletEublet Posts: 54
    Actually, I was thinking that a thinner cut would allow me to smoke it at a lower temp and take it to a higher temp. I could still go to 190-200 degrees, with a grate temp around 220. That should still make for a good low & slow.

    I'm also wondering if using the ramp feature on the DigiQ would help with a butterflied butt as it would lower the pit temp as things got closer, drawing out the cook a bit more.

    I'm definitely going to try it. Just wondering if anyone else had ever heard of such. I'm sure I'm not the first, and since I can find so little info on it, perhaps there's a reason why.
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    We gave you our opinion even through all the food contamination discussion.

    Personally I think it will cook to fast to get it to an easily pullable state.

    Since you seem hellbent on butterflying the butt despite the opinions you have asked for - do it. If it works for ya then all is good.
  • NibbleMeThisNibbleMeThis Posts: 2,293
    I think stike has a video produced about this. Excellent work, if I say so. Something about meat hanging in a sock in the basement :silly: :lol: :woohoo:

    Yeah, when I read your first post, the only thing I thought would be an issue is that the meat would probably stay in the plateau zone for less time. Some folks say the length of time in the plateau temp range is where the magic happens. So I'd be more concerned about how the smaller size affects the cook. I hate butts smaller the 7lbs for pulling.

    Personally, I wouldn't be overly concerned about the butterfly cut introducing more bacteria. Just my opinion, but seems that those same surface areas are exposed to more that 165 for extended lengths of time.
    Knoxville, TN
    Nibble Me This
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511
    It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride today :woohoo: Ay Wolfman
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    well, if you want firm, then it shouldn't go over 175., or it should do so quickly. you could cook a pork shoulder really fast to 200, and it would be dry and firm. or you could go low and slow until it was mid-plateau. 165, 170, maybe 175 max. around 185 it will be barely pullable. closer to 190-195-200 it falls apart

    maybe being thin it will rush through the plateau.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    was a duck breast, dusted in salt for 24 hours, then hung in a basement for a week. served it at easter. best damn thing money can buy.

    the guy's rub probably has more salt in it than my duckbreast had on it. he's in no danger from cutting it once to butterfly it. if he is, cutting it more times, into chops, would have to be worse. illogical... spock was an awesome butcher

    in my book, the only way to become inured is to expose yourself to the thing you fear most. and to become educated about it. a class given by the local health department is not exactly high science, certificate or not. i had a buddy who owned a restaurant tell me the local health inspector wanted him to keep his ketchup in a fridge instead of on the tables

    when anyone "tells" me the answer, i'm decidedly dumber about the subject than when i've sought out and educated myself about the answer. just my two cents
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Didn't read all the responses in this thread so this may have been addressed.

    It was discussed below that butterflying the cut would introduce more contamination.

    I guess that is possible, however, whenever I buy a boneless butt it would stand to reason the surfaces where the bone was would be contaminated. What about all the pork tenderloin 'rolls' folks post about, again all contaminated.

    My thought is if you want to butterfly it to get more bark then go for it.

    I have cooked an 8# butt using a fast method and it is as pull-able and has as good taste as the low temperature method.

    Obviously use clean surfaces, clean knives and watch the above 40° below 140° guidelines.

    Other than that give your idea a try.

    TRex Steaks and Hot Tubbing steaks came about by someone trying and idea.

  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Remember the ramp feature kicks in at 30° difference. Setting the q2 pit at 220° will begin the ramp at 190°. Depending on where you clip the pit probe that might result in your meat never reaching 200°.

    For sliced pork which also has fantastic bark I pull at 145° which results in a great moist interior. I find cooking to 165° to 180° interior leaves a dryer interior. I would go low for sliced or higher for pulled.

    The butterfly term is getting everyone in a tizzy. I don't think you have ever said how thick your original butt is. If it is 5 or 6 inches thick, butterflying it will result in a 2.5 to 3 inch thick result. I have purchased several butts that are 2.5 to 3 inches thick and they have been cooked to pulled with fantastic results.

    Again, give it a try, you have nothing to loose.

  • bubba timbubba tim Posts: 3,216
    You have great feedback from some of your fellow Eggheads. Take the plung and go for it. If it works, great! Please share your results with some pics. If it does not produce the results you were looking for, learn from it and share it on this forum. That's what it is all about. "We are all on a journey for perfect BBQ, hopefully we will never arrive". ....another bubba-izum is born. :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo:
    SEE YOU IN FLORIDA, March 14th and 15th 2014 You must master temp, smoke, and time to achive moisture, taste, and texture! Visit for BRISKET HELP
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    Couldn't be said any better Bubba. Give it a rip since no one else here seems to have done it (even though there are a couple that seem to "know" you will ruin the meat).

    If it turns out great - share the method and pics.

    If it sucks - then share the method and let us know that you didn't like it, why you didn't like it, and what you would do differently next time. That way we all learn (even those that "know" this method won't work even though they have never done it).
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,020
    i cook boneless ones and the areas that dont tuck under well sometimes will get dry and chewy, i dont mind that because ill eat that when pulling. the ones i cook have no fat layer and produce plenty of bark for me, are you removing the fat layer. another thing that seems to help get more bark is starting the cook at 300 until meat internals get to 140, then drop it to 220 until 185, then bring the dome temp back to 300 to finish the cook. been doing this for years because i was told that you needed to get meat internals up to 140 in 4 hours by someone that should have known better. i do this routinely because the higher heat does produce more bark and the lower heat still gives it enough time to break down, not because its supposed to be safer. i was told a few years back you couldnt cook a butt direct in an egg, well they were wrong on that too, go give it a shot, worse that can happen is that you might need to use more sauce
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