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davegravy

Big Joe Food Taking Forever

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I've done 6 cooks now, all of which were ~5lb pork butt or blade roast. Consistently meat is taking forever to get tender. I've been starting at 7am and by midnight I've been pulling the meat off because I just can't stay awake any longer, not because it's done. When I say not done I mea the internal temp is far from the 195-203 range, and twisting a fork in it is tough.

 

I've been keeping the grill between 225 and 250F based on dome temp and grill probe (both passed the boiling water test).  I haven't been wrapping - I know that will speed the cooking but I'm worried something is wrong because un-wrapped times people quote are much lower. I am putting the meat on the grill right out of the refrigerator, which is not an abnormally cold refrigerator.  

 

I've got some ribs on now that have been going since 11am (it's now 5:30pm) and they feel like they're a long way from passing the bend test.

 

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? 

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First, is your dome temp gauage accurate? Assuming that it is, the answer In a word–overcooking. When are you starting to test for doneness? I am no expert on pork butts by any means but, I wouldn't expect a 5lb butt to go much past 7 hours. I would start checking for doneness at least around 6 1/2 hours. Again, no sure what kind of ribs but, the only rib that I cook that would still be on the grill after 6 hours are Beef Ribs. I may cook a little hotter than you but, I'd expect baby backs to be done in 3-4 hours and spare ribs or St. Louis style around 4.5 to 5. Then again, I am checking earlier than my projected time. I can always cook longer, I cannot uncook them if I overshoot the doneness.

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3 hours ago, davegravy said:

I've done 6 cooks now, all of which were ~5lb pork butt or blade roast. Consistently meat is taking forever to get tender. I've been starting at 7am and by midnight I've been pulling the meat off because I just can't stay awake any longer, not because it's done. When I say not done I mea the internal temp is far from the 195-203 range, and twisting a fork in it is tough.

 

I've been keeping the grill between 225 and 250F based on dome temp and grill probe (both passed the boiling water test).  I haven't been wrapping - I know that will speed the cooking but I'm worried something is wrong because un-wrapped times people quote are much lower. I am putting the meat on the grill right out of the refrigerator, which is not an abnormally cold refrigerator.  

 

I've got some ribs on now that have been going since 11am (it's now 5:30pm) and they feel like they're a long way from passing the bend test.

 

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? 

 

@CentralTexBBQ offers some good advice. I have followed advice from him in the past and my ribs came out good.

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4 hours ago, CentralTexBBQ said:

First, is your dome temp gauage accurate? Assuming that it is, the answer In a word–overcooking. When are you starting to test for doneness? I am no expert on pork butts by any means but, I wouldn't expect a 5lb butt to go much past 7 hours. I would start checking for doneness at least around 6 1/2 hours. Again, no sure what kind of ribs but, the only rib that I cook that would still be on the grill after 6 hours are Beef Ribs. I may cook a little hotter than you but, I'd expect baby backs to be done in 3-4 hours and spare ribs or St. Louis style around 4.5 to 5. Then again, I am checking earlier than my projected time. I can always cook longer, I cannot uncook them if I overshoot the doneness.

 

Yeah my dome gauge passed the water boiling test. 

 

At 7 hours pork butt probes at like 140-160F, so definitely not done. My meat probe is also accurate - it's a Thermapen. 

 

Sorry, by ribs I meant pork side ribs. After 7hrs they were definitely still undercooked so I wrapped them and stuck them in the oven for an hour at 300 and they softened up beautifully.

 

I really feel like something is up with my grill, I just have no idea what. It's like there's a cold layer of air hiding between the dome gauge and my grill probe. I'm tempted to start adding 50F to all my target temperatures to compensate. 

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Any chance you're opening the lid for long periods? I've had internal temps start to fall after too much futzing around on the grate with the lid open. Best idea I've got; my ribs take ~6 hrs, and 8 lb. pork butts around 9 hrs. A 16 lb. brisket will be more like 16-24 hrs, all at 225-250 on the dome. 

 

HAve fun,

Frank

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How long after you light the Joe up are you waiting to put the meat on? Big Joe has a lot of thermal mass so it takes a good hour or so for the temp to stabilize. Also, what position are you setting your rack and deflectors in for low n slow? 

I’ve had smaller butts take as long as a 10 pounder, it could just be the meat you’re getting. As for ribs, 3 hours for loin backs and 4 hours for spares at 250-275°F is about all you need. Maybe try baking some biscuits on the thing to see if you have some hot/cold spots; this trick works well for offset pits, it may help you sort things out with the KJ. 

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9 hours ago, fbov said:

Any chance you're opening the lid for long periods? I've had internal temps start to fall after too much futzing around on the grate with the lid open. Best idea I've got; my ribs take ~6 hrs, and 8 lb. pork butts around 9 hrs. A 16 lb. brisket will be more like 16-24 hrs, all at 225-250 on the dome. 

 

HAve fun,

Frank

Good question but I've been keeping my lid shut as much as possible. I find that opening the lid stokes the fire and if I do it too many times, or for long periods of time, the fire grows and then staying within the 225-250 range becomes very difficult. 

 

2 hours ago, Mr Cue said:

How long after you light the Joe up are you waiting to put the meat on? Big Joe has a lot of thermal mass so it takes a good hour or so for the temp to stabilize. Also, what position are you setting your rack and deflectors in for low n slow? 

I’ve had smaller butts take as long as a 10 pounder, it could just be the meat you’re getting. As for ribs, 3 hours for loin backs and 4 hours for spares at 250-275°F is about all you need. Maybe try baking some biscuits on the thing to see if you have some hot/cold spots; this trick works well for offset pits, it may help you sort things out with the KJ. 

I've been doing my smoking at 225-235, and I'm thinking that the 250-275 range you quoted may be better. 

 

I light the KJ a good 1.5 to 2hrs before I throw meat on.  Deflectors in the bottom position, rack at the top. I'll try the biscuit suggestion, thanks. I think I'll also throw some oven thermometers I have around the grill to see if I can get a better sense of what's happening.

 

I'm tempted to buy two pieces of meat that are identical as possible and do one in the KJ, the other in the oven, but at the same temperature to see if there's any wild differences in cook time.

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My thought (never used a Big Joe, so take it with a grain of salt) is that maybe your temp in the middle of the grill grate, directly over your deflector, is significantly lower than either the temp in the dome, or toward the edge of the grate where I assume the probe is located. Have you tried running the grill without any meat and measured the temp in the middle of the grate?

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54 minutes ago, Brave Sir Robin said:

My thought (never used a Big Joe, so take it with a grain of salt) is that maybe your temp in the middle of the grill grate, directly over your deflector, is significantly lower than either the temp in the dome, or toward the edge of the grate where I assume the probe is located. Have you tried running the grill without any meat and measured the temp in the middle of the grate?

 

I did such a test last Saturday - the probe and dome temp were pretty close.  The last several cooks I did with the probe pretty much centered. 

 

On the ribs I did last night, on account of the grill being packed with meat, the grill probe was a bit close to ribs (1-2") which I think accounted for it reading lower (180-190F) while the dome read 225-235F. John Setzler suggested ignoring the grill probe and relying on the dome so that's what I did. But perhaps I should  trust the grill probe more?

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My thought would be that a grill probe close to the meat will probably be inaccurate while the meat is still pretty cold. But once it starts to heat up, the grill probe is probably accurately reading the environment around the meat, unless it's actually touching the meat.

 

In my opinion, John's advice to only go by dome temp isn't bad advice, but I still like to know what's going on at the grate. I think where people get in trouble with digital probes is that they tend to chase perfection, and make too many adjustments, while the dome thermometer forces you to let things ride for awhile because it doesn't respond as quickly. If you can force yourself not to make constant adjustments, I think the grill probe will give you a more accurate understanding of the conditions.

 

That's just my two cents.

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43 minutes ago, Brave Sir Robin said:

My thought would be that a grill probe close to the meat will probably be inaccurate while the meat is still pretty cold. But once it starts to heat up, the grill probe is probably accurately reading the environment around the meat, unless it's actually touching the meat.

 

In my opinion, John's advice to only go by dome temp isn't bad advice, but I still like to know what's going on at the grate. I think where people get in trouble with digital probes is that they tend to chase perfection, and make too many adjustments, while the dome thermometer forces you to let things ride for awhile because it doesn't respond as quickly. If you can force yourself not to make constant adjustments, I think the grill probe will give you a more accurate understanding of the conditions.

 

That's just my two cents.

 

I've gotten good at making only one adjustment in a half hour, unless the temp is really running away at an alarming rate.

 

On my last cook the dome temp and grill temp were further apart at the beginning of the cook, like you say, and the grill temp gradually came up and settled at 190. At that point I probably could have bumped the temp up to get the grill probe reading in the 225-250 range.

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22 hours ago, davegravy said:

I've done 6 cooks now, all of which were ~5lb pork butt or blade roast. Consistently meat is taking forever to get tender. I've been starting at 7am and by midnight I've been pulling the meat off because I just can't stay awake any longer, not because it's done. When I say not done I mea the internal temp is far from the 195-203 range, and twisting a fork in it is tough.

 

I've been keeping the grill between 225 and 250F based on dome temp and grill probe (both passed the boiling water test).  I haven't been wrapping - I know that will speed the cooking but I'm worried something is wrong because un-wrapped times people quote are much lower. I am putting the meat on the grill right out of the refrigerator, which is not an abnormally cold refrigerator.  

 

I've got some ribs on now that have been going since 11am (it's now 5:30pm) and they feel like they're a long way from passing the bend test.

 

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? 

 

It’s why they call it low ‘n’ slow.  You’re not doing anything wrong.   I put down a short list of average cook times for meats at 225 F. 

 

You also need to factor in a rest time for Pulled Pork and Brikset around 2-hours.  You really have to plan ahead.   I start my grill at 9-11 PM.   The food goes on 90 or so minutes after I light and stabilize the Big Joe.

 

If I’m cooking ribs I start the grill at 8-11 AM and get the grill up to temp the have the ribs done by 6 PM for supper.   A lot of time a good low-‘n’-slow involves starting the Kamado at night.  It pays to invest in some LED lights for working at night during the  winter months.  

 

Good food takes time.  If you want to work at 225 F- 250 F.  That means getting the food on the Smoker before 12 AM- 1 AM depending when you want to eat supper. 

 

So if you’re making a Brisket or Butt and you don’t want to wrap and you plan to cook it 225 F, you have to plan to get the food on the grill 17 hours before supper time.  

 

Things could always be more difficult.  Those stick  burning folks have to drink a lot of espresso and stay up all night for the cook to tend the fire.   Your Kamado loves you a little more because Kamado’s know how important is for you to get some shut-eye.  

 

Average Meat Cooking times at 225 F

 

- Brisket 12 -16 Hours 

- Pork Butt: 10 - 16 hours 

- Pork Ribs 5-7 hours depending on the cut 

- Quality Beef Ribs 10 hours 

 

 

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46 minutes ago, Charcoal Addict said:

 

Average Meat Cooking times at 225 F

 

- Brisket 12 -16 Hours 

- Pork Butt: 10 - 16 hours 

- Pork Ribs 5-7 hours depending on the cut 

- Quality Beef Ribs 10 hours 

 

 

ok i'm up against the higher end of those numbers, but mostly I see the lower end quoted. You might be right, I just need to wait longer. Thanks!

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