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horseshoes

My pork and briskets are dry! Tried low and slow, tried 300F...any ideas?

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Since getting my Kamado Joe Classic a couple months ago, I've done a handful of pulled pork and 2 attempts at brisket. Results are not as expected. Looking for advice.

 

My first 2 pulled pork turned out ok. I'm using a boneless pork shoulder center cut from costco, about 3.5lbs. It was somewhere around 14-18 hours. Pulled at 203. Did not wrap or rest. I did spray a few times. The cooks took a very long time. I experimented with temps here, and did one at about 185 for most of the cook, did the other around 215.

 

Some corners were very dry, but the rest was juicy and fatty enough that it hid the problems once it was pulled and mixed around, and people liked it.

 

I'm using a flameboss fan controller to hold temps steady. Vents were barely open to keep temps so low, and the fan was going a lot of the time.

 

Cook #3, I decide maybe the long cook times are contributing to the dryness. I saw some posts here from folks saying they do it at 275-300 and it works well. So I try it at 300, it goes for about 6-7 hours until 203, held it there for a bit, killed fan and lowered the temp to keep it warm for about an hour, took it off, wrap in 2 layers of butcher paper, then in towel, and sit in a cooler to hold its temp for about 2 hours.

 

I pull it out, internal temp is still about 158, so I cut in, and it's tough and dry as a bone. Won't even pull! So shorter cook time and high temps seem to be a disaster.

 

Here is the temp graph: https://myflameboss.com/en/cooks/442880

 

As for brisket. First one was bad. I don't really remember what I did there.

Second one had a problem with an initial spike to  about 325 for 15 mins before I caught it, took the meat off, let grill cool back down, and then I cooked it around 230. It came out ok, but still dry. That one was a trimmed flat with no fat cap left, so I am thinking that didn't help.

 

So how do people who don't wrap do these on Kamados? Supposedly Kamados are especially good for retaining moisture, but my results are showing otherwise. Everything says not to use a water pan.

 

Does having the added airflow from a fan controller have anything to do with it? I thought would help with consistency and smoke but then I also heard that airflow adds to dryness.

 

 

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You're probably overcooking. Internal temperature is just a guideline. Both cuts are done when a probe slides easily in with little resistance. I start probing at 190, which is early but I've had butts finish as low as 192, and most often 196 give or take.

 

Same rule applies with brisket but brisket is trickier. The only one I've had come out dry was because I over trimmed, so you have to be careful to leave a good amount of fat on while trimming. Beyond that, some briskets just don't have enough fat in the flat and are going to be on the dry side. I've had luck on that regard, but try to pick a piece with a good amount of marbling.

 

 

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A 3.5 boneless butt should cook much quicker than 15 hours 

 

That is 5 hours a lb

 

Buy a bigger butt with the bone in 

 

Typically costs me about a buck a lb 

 

I cook butt at 250 to 300 

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Boston butt bone in 225 to 250 fat up It will stall at 160 after 4 to 5 hours. turn it over if you want or wrap. Just keep at it until the bone will pull out clean. internal temp may be 195 to 210. I have cooked a butt with nothing to see what it would taste like. I missed nothing. YMMV. I like good slaw any kind, I like a plane bun. I like a little Piedmont N.C. Vinegar  sauce if the slaw has a little mayonnaise. If the slaw has a little sauce mixed in I,m good.

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I think you misunderstood. The first 2 were low and slow at 185 to 215, and not awful but definitely too dry in some spots. So I tried the 3rd at 300 and it turned out much worse, dry all over and didn't pull. Yet, John says he cooks at 300 and gets the best results. So I'm not sure what variable I'm missing. 

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1 hour ago, horseshoes said:

I think you misunderstood. The first 2 were low and slow at 185 to 215, and not awful but definitely too dry in some spots. So I tried the 3rd at 300 and it turned out much worse, dry all over and didn't pull. Yet, John says he cooks at 300 and gets the best results. So I'm not sure what variable I'm missing. 

 

Try 225+. 185 and 215 are too low and too slow. 

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As others have said I think the time for two pork butts has been too long, as another data point I find 5-6 hours at 140-150C (so 280-300F) to have worked well for a whole bone in shoulder. 

 

With brisket you should definitely check the marbling. I’ve had several spectacular failures here, largely because beef in the UK is so much leaner a lot of the time. Our briskets seldom have any marbling at all which really makes them impossible to cook using this method. Get something nice and fatty and start trusting the tenderness of the meat to guide doneness and you’ll be fine. 

 

As to your last question, dryness is caused by the muscle fibres contracting and squeezing out their water. It’s possible to make dry meat using low, medium or high temperatures if you cook for long enough. 

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You stated in your low and slow that you didn’t rest.  Rest redistributes moisture throughout, as it continues to breakdown the fibers.  I try to rest mine for anywhere from 2-6 hours.  Wrapped in aluminum foil twice, then in a towel and placed in a cooler I prepped by getting it hot by adding hot water to it and dumping it out.

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Some ideas for you

 

(1) season with diamond crystal kosher salt 24 hours ahead of time as this helps the meat hold moisture. Leave in the fridge uncovered, just don’t use a high sodium rub after salting it already. I make my own with course back pepper, garlic, paprika, celery seed, cyan and some onion 

 

(2) after an hour spray with water starting at once an hour, then 45 then 30 until your bark passes the scratch test. Once you have a bark your not imparting any more smoke so don’t be afraid to wrap with either butcher pepper (brisket) or foil (either). I drop a little bit of apple cider vinegar in the foil and double wrap it tightly. 

 

Agree with others on size of meat and FTC rest for at least two hours 

 

Guaranteed juicy 

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Where in the cooker are you placing your temp probe/s?

There's a difference (and some debate) on where you sample temp data.

If you place cold meat near a probe, your fan will blow like crazy trying to come up to the set point.

I've always been a cook grate probe position guy but with Kamado dome temp may be the way to go.

I run my digital probe next to the analog probe where it sticks through the dome.

 

 

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1 hour ago, horseshoes said:

I rested both the last butt and the last brisket and they were dry, so rest isn’t the issue.

 

On cook #3 it sounds like you rested it in the kamado unwrapped for an hour before wrapping after it had reached temp. You want to wrap it right away and hold it in a cooler. Fill the cooler with hot water in advance to warm it up, dump the water then wrap your meat in foil followed by a towel and put it in the cooler. It can hold like that for hours. Letting it sit in the kamado after it was done will dry it out.

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4 hours ago, SeaBrisket said:

 

On cook #3 it sounds like you rested it in the kamado unwrapped for an hour before wrapping after it had reached temp. You want to wrap it right away and hold it in a cooler. Fill the cooler with hot water in advance to warm it up, dump the water then wrap your meat in foil followed by a towel and put it in the cooler. It can hold like that for hours. Letting it sit in the kamado after it was done will dry it out.

 

I was wondering about that. I actually did not do that by choice but because I couldn't get to it in time to take it off, so my controller was programmed to drop it to holding temp. It was still keeping it warm, so do you think that hour or so would have been what completely killed it? And would that make it too tough to pull?

 

I have another one going now that is nearing completion, so I'll start probing it soon before putting it in the cooler. That will rule that out as a variable.

 

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