Your smoker hasn’t stopped cooking – you just hit the “stall”
You smoke meat and it is going very well, and then the temperature will not rise. Are you doing something wrong? The best barbecue chefs say not to worry – it happens to them, too. Here’s what to do about it.
Any intelligent chef knows how to cook not at a specific time, but at an internal temperature. The more savvy will even keep a digital thermometer in their meat throughout the cooking and watch the temperature rise over the hours, so as not to open the smoker door to check.
But if you watch this temperature long enough, the cooking process seems to stop. The internal temperature may have risen 10 or 20 degrees in one hour, then a single degree the next hour, maybe not even. If a business is on the way, you might start to panic.
Fernando Gonzalez, owner of 2Fifty Texas Barbecue in Riverdale, Maryland, knows the sentiment. He said the pit masters called it “the stall”.
It’s a shorthand for something with a much longer scientific explanation. The juices from the meat begin to evaporate, keeping the surface of the meat cool and thwarting the hot air from the smoker. Essentially the same thing happens when your body starts to sweat while you are exercising. This usually happens to larger and thicker cuts of meat when they reach an internal temperature of between 150 and 170 degrees.
“There’s a good chance you’ll get desperate at some point – ‘Hey, that’s not really going to increase,'” Gonzalez said.
But in fact, getting around it is not that difficult. This is why most pit masters wrap their meat around the middle of the cooking process.
“Finally definitely,” Gonzalez said. “The foil is definitely going to be an accelerator on the stall,” he added, meaning the internal temperature will start to rise again once you have the foil layer around.
Once Gonzalez has the rind on the outside of the pork or belly, he knows he’s ready to wrap. In his restaurant, he uses butcher’s paper. This is also how famous chef Myron Mixon operates, as well as many other restaurants. But there is nothing wrong with the foil either.
If time is really short, you can even wrap the meat in foil and finish it in a hot oven. At this point, you already have the smoky taste in the meat you are looking for, and all you have to do is cook it all the way through.
Or you can skip the wrap, wake up in the middle of the night, and sit alone on the back patio at 3 or 4 in the morning watching this thing cook while everyone else is asleep. Don’t fall asleep later during the party.
“Don’t play by the book per se; be prepared for those surprises, ”Gonzalez said. “And don’t despair. You will get there. “
Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to start a conversation about this and other articles.
Get the latest news and daily headlines delivered to your inbox by signing up here.
© 2021 OMCP. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located in the European Economic Area.