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What's the best low and slow temp?? Help, please!

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    What's the best low and slow temp?? Help, please!

    I've been following the 225F rule for low and slow cooking (followed by reverse searing at high temp) ever since I began reading material on this great web site. But I've seen comments recently that indicate to me that some of you are cooking at higher temps either because you've redefined the "sweet spot" or because that's where your cooker runs naturally. So, help me out here what's the right temp for low and slow???

    #2
    It really depends on the protein you are cooking, thickness and size make a difference - and a matter of taste and preference. I know everyone will weigh in with some great ideas, but I look at it this way.

    Keep the pit from 210 to 225 for everything except poultry. I cook that at 240 -250. Cook meats to temp and use a reliable probe for the meat and pit temp, the manufacturers thermometers that come with your pit are not that accurate. Balance this with what everyone else says.

    Comment


    • Ray
      Ray commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, Scorched...I appreciate your input! Is there ever a time when you've cooked at 270F...I had that experience last night cooking a tri-tip on the Weber Summit. I just couldn't get the temp below 260-270F, except when I was running out of propane...but that's another story. Anyway, I got the medium rare finish I was wanting but I was surprised that it turned out that well.
      Last edited by Ray; February 13, 2015, 05:34 PM. Reason: corrected typos

    #3
    The reason we do low & slow first and foremost is to give it TIME to soften that tough stuff- fats and catrilage and other connective tissue yuckies. Ribs and brisket would be terrible & tough if you blasted them like a hamburger. We all know this general principle by now. However, lean meats like chicken breasts and pork loin chops would dry to cardboard if you cooked them too slow. Even if aiming for the right temp, if it takes too long to get there you can run into trouble.

    I cook steaks, skinless chicken, and pork loin chops in the 260-320 range (I'm not concerned as much with an "ideal" temp since I reverse sear). For steaks I take them to about 15-20 under my target temp then sear the snot out of them until at or close to my target. For loin chops, I'm a little less concerned with searing if they've indirectly cooked hot, but I may slide them over to direct heat at about 5 deg under target temp. For me my target temps are: steak usually 130-135, pork loin chops 140-145max, chicken breast 165, thighs/legs/wings 175min-185.

    For skin-on chicken I will always cook them hot. Meathead recommends 325. For me and my cooker I could not get crispy skin at this temp, so I've begun to run hotter around 360-390 and this seemed to do the trick.

    For brisket and pork butts, since they're such a thick clod of meat (usually) I will aim for 225 to give them the time factor, but if it rises to 240 or 250 I am not alarmed, I let it ride until it wanes back down. Ribs I shoot for 225, more specifically 215-250 on the extreme ends. I use an offset stickburner and they like to run hotter so 225 can be tricky to maintain and still get good smoke. Much easier to keep them around 250+ and get good thin smoke.

    I have had great success with these temps for these meats. I know some guys go quite high with brisket, like 275 to 350 (not talking about PBCs, they're a different animal with temps), but I have never done this.

    Comment


    • DWCowles
      DWCowles commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm with Huskee on this. With butts, ribs, beef ribs and briskets I try to stay in the 225 - 250 range for low and slow. If it takes longer for the meat to get done then let it be. I don't go by time only IT temp.

    • fuzzydaddy
      fuzzydaddy commented
      Editing a comment
      Great summary Huskee! I've been cooking my skinless chicken breasts at 225 and recently upped it to 325 and they turned out much juicier and finished a lot quicker Now I know why :-) I copied your post into my Evernote notes on temps. Thanks again.

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome guys, hope your future cooks turn out good.

    #4
    The best one is the one that produces food the way YOU like it. Back in the day when I was training to be a chef and line dog, I was taught to use a "slow oven," "moderate oven," and "hot oven." This came from a European tradition when ovens did not have reliable thermostats and so forth. A slow oven was from about 190-300, a moderate was 300-375, a hot oven was 375-450. These were all approximates. We were taught to look for the reactions in the food we were cooking and not to be a slave to times, temps, etc. There are many exceptions to these "rules" and reverse searing and sous vide typlify these exceptions. If you follow the food, and not the dogma, your food will dictate methodology and your gear will tell you how long it will take. Pros don't think of cooking time, for the most part, but how to hold for service. If you try to have split second timing(so to speak) of your cook, you set yourself up to fail. Just a few thoughts.

    Comment


      #5
      On my gasser (Genesis silver 3-burner) I usually go 2 burners full on with the rear burner off for an indirect zone. This will usually have temps in the 450+ range with the lid down (according to the highly inaccurate dome thermometer). I'll cook indirect and will reverse sear. I always salt my steaks, chops and chicken breasts at least an hour in advance. If I purchase meat to be frozen I salt it first, let it sit for an hour and than place in individual freezer bags and write "salted" on them. If I freeze several pieces of meat I'll place the individually wrapped pieces into a larger freezer bag. But, I digress...for me I have used the Weber gasser so extensively over the last 20 years that I literally just "know" when the meat is cooked through (I am talking about chicken breasts, steaks, etc - weeknight dinner food). Now that I have a good instant read thermometer I use it even when I cook on the gasser. The higher heat may seem harsh but my meat always turns out really well.

      As for low and slow...I like the 220-250 range for everything except fowl. For chicken and turkey I will try to hit (and can with the Smokenator) 325-335 and won't use a water pan, just a drip pan. The skin turns an appealing mahogany and is crackling crisp. If you can keep the internal under 175 but over 165 it will be very juicy. I hope this helps.

      Comment


      • Ray
        Ray commented
        Editing a comment
        Great help, Jeff. Many thanks!

      #6
      Only thing I will add is that I like 275-300 for hunks like pork butt. In my opinion there is no melting of any fat or anything until the meat is at a pretty high temp throughout. 225 makes it take a lot longer to heat everything up, but once it gets to the sweet spot it helps it stay there longer. I take mine off and let them cool just a bit to prevent carryover and then wrap and let sit for a couple of hours, this gives them plenty of time to reach tenderness. I may try this weekend, but I hypothesize the best compromise would be to cook high through the stall, then drop to 225 and let it coast.

      Comment


      • _John_
        _John_ commented
        Editing a comment
        If your temperature is going up when you take it off, if you wrap right away it will continue to rise, then level out and start to decrease, cooking the entire time.

      • Ray
        Ray commented
        Editing a comment
        OK, so thats why you can pull before target temp is reached, wrap and it continues to target temp?

      • _John_
        _John_ commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes on a lot of meats you will pull a little early and let it continue, for big hunks you need to go to tenderness which is not always a specific temp, but it can over cook if it continues after wrapping.

      #7
      I usually don't get much carryover when I take them off at 200-205. I leave the probe in and move to a cooler/cambro and the temp only wanes, FWIW. But yes, lots of guys cook butts higher. If a person were to skip the wrap/crutch on pork butts (Meathead, Pit Boss, many others) then a higher cook temp would surely be the way to go. I tend to crank my heat once I wrap as long as I have budgeted enough time for a nice long cambro hold for pork butts.

      Comment


      • Ray
        Ray commented
        Editing a comment
        So, Huskee, lets say you're cooking a pork butt...youre at 225F, then you hit stall..do you crutch (wrap) then crank the heat up to , say, 275F and keep going till you hit 203?

      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        @Ray, sorry for the delay. The short answer is yes. When I do butts I let it/them go into the stall at least an hour, maybe a couple, before wrapping. I like to give it time to develop more smoke flavor and bark when possible. This also helps build my defenses against too little bark...or so I like to think.

      #8
      I believe that a pork loin ( not butt ) and turkey can be cooked at the 325 range. Ham ( big 'ol shank ) @ 225.

      Now for thin steaks and flanken ribs, I'll put them on the gasser at high heat (or charcoal @ "after burner") for just a few minutes per side. Same with a flank steak or skirt for fajita. Leave the lid up or off for thin meats.

      Lotta great info here on this thread!

      --Ed
      Last edited by Medusa; February 14, 2015, 05:15 AM. Reason: Thin meats = lid up / off

      Comment


      • Ray
        Ray commented
        Editing a comment
        I couldn't agree more, Ed!

      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        Good advice on thin steaks Ed!

      • Medusa
        Medusa commented
        Editing a comment
        Learned from y'all

      #9
      Being a newer member here, it's very interesting to see everyone's ideas. I tend to run it on the lower side and wait it out - at least on the WSM, and I crutch the briskets as well.

      Comment

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