There ain’t nothing worse than spending good money on a nice cut of meat, putting in the time it takes to prep and stay up all night cooking… only to end up with over-cooked BBQ.
To me, over-cooked BBQ is just as bad as under-cooked BBQ.
And when I say over-cooked I’m talking about mushy, falling-apart meat… the kind of meat that takes on a peanut butter texture in your mouth.
Of course, some folks don’t think you can overcook BBQ, they think that fall-off-the-bone tender means that the meat is cooked just right. And we’ve all been to BBQ joints that run meat through a chopper, slap some sauce & slaw on it and expect you to think it’s the best thing going today.
But in my opinion, there are a lot of folks out there that don’t know jack about good BBQ.
This is why I preach about meat thermometers and watching your internal temperatures. It’s not just about making sure your product gets to that perfect level of tenderness… it’s also just as important to keep your BBQ from going too far.
Good BBQ needs to have good texture.
The Perfect Texture for BBQ
Imagine taking a piece of BBQ in your hands… it could be a plug of pulled pork, it can be a slice of brisket, and it can even be a rib… you should be able to press on the meat and get a slight bounce-back (we’re not talking rubber band bounce here) but it should never just mush in your hands.
When you go to pull it apart, there should be a slight resistance – just a few seconds worth before the meat gives. Basically… you want your meat to be tender, but the protein fibers to still have some structure. Overcooked meat will completely come apart… it has no integrity.
And when you place the meat in your mouth, you want it to be tender… you want it to be soft and fall apart. When you chew it, you want to KNOW you are eating a piece of meat (just without having to work hard at it).
But overcooked meat does just the opposite. It basically turns into mush and it coats the roof of your mouth. That is why I call it peanut butter BBQ (because that is what it feels like your eating).
How to Achieve Perfect BBQ Texture
When it comes to BBQ, there is a window between overcooking and undercooking your meat. It’s that perfect, little “sweet spot” that you want to arrive at every time you fire up your smoker.
And it’s not difficult to achieve as long as you have the right technique.
It all comes down to 3 things:
1. Knowing the internal temperatures you want each different cut of meat to achieve
2. Monitoring your internal temperatures to make sure they reach those marks (without going over)
3. And stopping the cooking process – at just the right time – to make sure you get your meat off and allow it to rest.
Each of these 3 things is just as important as the other.
I get emails every day from people asking me for cooking times. And what I always stress is that times are just a guideline. Internet temp is the KEY and it should always dictate the time meat stays on the smoker.
Of course, when it comes to ribs, I rely completely on feel. Slabs should bend but not break and the bones should be a little loose, but never be separating from the meat.
And I gotta tell ya, every piece of meat is going to cook differently. Sometimes a 15lb shoulder will be done in 12 hours… and then 14lb. shoulder sitting next to it might need 20 (My only guess is that those hogs were living rough).
But once you cook enough, you will just know your BBQ is ready.
In BBQ, tenderness and texture go hand-and-hand. And once you master that texture, those falling-off-the-bone ribs ain’t going to be as appetizing anymore.
Killer Hogs BBQ Team
Sign-up For My Weekly BBQ Newsletter @ HowtoBBQright.com