Have you ever heard of something called the ‘brisket stall’; or the ‘barbecue stall’?
It’s the point during your cooks when that the internal temperature of your piece of meat no longer rises. Instead, you’ll find that it either stays the same or even falls.
This phenomenon often poses an issue for barbecue lovers. As it can sometimes last for hours and cause some serious panic. However, there’s no need to dread the stall. And there’s no reason for it to ruin your cookout.
Keep reading on to learn more about the stall, the reasons behind it and how to BEAT IT!
About The Smoked Pork Stall
In short, the pork stall refers to when the temperature of meat stops increasing during a cook. And it almost seems like the smoker’s temperature loses its effect.
So, What is Normal Pork Butt Stall Temperature?
The infamous ‘stall’ usually happens when the meat’s internal temperature reaches 140℉ to 150℉.
You’ll find that the meat temperature will just halt before it gets to the target temp. The target temperature for smoked boston butt or pork shoulder sits somewhere between 195℉ and 205℉. We like the internal temp of the pork butt to be 204°F before we pull it from the smoke. Which is very far off from 150℉.
What makes the pork butt stall even more infuriating is that this can easily last for 2-6 hours.
Sure, the advantage with pork butt is that it’s meant to be cooked for a long time. Its prolonged cooking time allows for the fat to render and connective tissue to break down. The fat is what keeps your meat moist.
But this wait can prove to be very stressful. Especially if it happens to occur when you have your friends over for a backyard barbecue. Awkward.
What Causes The Pork Butt to Stall?
The Main Culprit is Evaporative Cooling:
At around 140°F the meat begins to “sweat”; which produces a lot of moisture. The muscles contract and push the moisture to the surface of the meat. The moisture then evaporates and cools the surface temperature of the meat as well as the ambient temp.
There are two major theories that get thrown around in the BBQ community But I firmly believe it is evaporative cooling that causes the stall. Nevertheless, I will share the other two theories below
The first is that people believe collagen binds with the extra moisture in the meat to form gelatin.
Many chefs believe that this happens around the 160°F mark and disrupt the cooking process. As a result, the internal temp of the meat ceases to rise.
The second theory includes protein denaturing.
Many believe that this occurs when the fat is being rendered. They say that it causes the separation between chain molecules. Which, in turn, affected the rising internal meat temperatures.
The great thing is that once you know the cause and solution for the stall, nothing is standing in the way of you becoming a great backyard pitmaster.
Many pitmasters argue about pulled pork vs brisket. Although they are much different to cook they both usually experience the stall.
Any Other Contributing Factors to the Pork Butt Stall?
Some of the other additional factors can include:
- The ingredients found in the pork’s dry rub
- The shape of the meat
- Size of the pork
- Amount of surface area exposed to the heat source
- Type of smoker (Electric smoker, pellet smoker, propane smoker, traditional offset smoker, etc.)
How to Beat The Stall
While it’s always easy to immediately start panicking, try not to. Your smoker isn’t broken. So, don’t just instinctively increase the temperature more than you should. The main thing that you can do during the stall is just to be patient and wait it out.
But let’s say that you don’t have plenty of time to spare. Then what? Here are some solutions:
The Texas Crutch
Now that you know that the reason behind the issue is evaporative cooling, you just have to prevent it.
The Texas Crutch is one way to do this. This solution includes wrapping the meat in aluminum foil. A foil-wrapped butt means that the moisture doesn’t evaporate in the air but is warmed in the wrapped environment.
This water that is trapped in will also create steam. This means that you’re not just trapping in the moisture. You’re also trapping in all that heat. Which actually intensifies the cooking process and you’ll experience faster smoking times.
Invest in a Good Thermometer
Keeping an eye on the temperature is critical. Hence, you’ll need a decent digital thermometer with a probe. That way you always know exactly what your meat is doing.
Raise The Cooking Temperature
We know we instructed you not to panic and immediately mess with the smoker’s temperature. But if you increase the heat from 225℉ to 300℉, this will decrease the duration of the stall by a little bit. This is more effective with smaller cuts of meat.
Skip The Mop Sauce
A mop sauce would mean that you’re adding more moisture to the meat. Since this will contribute to extra moisture, you would just be increasing the stall period. So it’s best to leave it off. You can always add the sauce after you get past 170°F.
Hence, you should also avoid the use of any water pans either. Just keep in mind that extra liquid equals a longer stall.
When Should You Remove The Foil?
You should remove the foil once the meat has reached 170°F. At this point, the meat will have stopped pushing moisture to the surface. You then want to wait until the internal temp of the pork butt reaches at least 204°F before pulling it from the smoker. We find this is the perfect temp for pulled pork, as it makes it easy to shred.
Take off the foil and let the delicious crispy bark form.
We hope that our article helped you solve all your pork butt stall issues. Make sure to keep that extra moisture at bay, and you should be good to go!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
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