I often get asked how I manage my time management during a big cook, the last thing I want is hungry friends and family. Controlling the temperature of your smoker is one of biggest issues when it comes to ensuring your meat is done on time. This temperature control can mean the different between a four hour cook and an 8 hour cook. I’ve found that most thermometers are way off unless you have it calibrated yearly. As a result, it can be really hard to ensure your food is ready when your guests start demanding it. On the flipside, I have found it can be worse if the meat is ready and no one is there to eat!
Well I might have a solution for you, it works for me, the neighbours and the professionals, plus it won’t cost you a bomb, let me introduce you to the faux Cambro, an insulated food carrier or as I call it the (pork) butt saver.
What is a Faux Cambro
What is a faux Cabmro and why do I need one, you might ask. Well, a Cambro is what most professional caterers use as an insulated food carrier and you should too. It is essentially an insulated box that caterers can use to carry hot food to different locations. The food in the box is them kept within the food safety zone which is above 140°F.
However, they are no need to invest in a restaurant level Cambro, you most likely already have one and that is in the form of your plastic beer cooler. It will allow you to keep hot food in your cooler essentially. If you don’t have one, it is time to invest in a cooler! Make sure you get one that is well insulated, easy to drain, seals tightly and easy to clean. Make sure you can fit some aluminium pans inside. I use the Coleman 48 Quart Cooler, it manages to hold my weight and the kids managed to keep ice frozen for over a week when we were camping and it has rock solid hinges.
How to Use a Faux Cambro
If meat should take three hours to cook then put it on four hours before you plan on serving it. Use a good thermometer and keep a close eye on it. If all going to plan if it finishes early grab your faux cambro and follow my steps below to find out how to keep food hot in a cooler
1. When you’re finished up smoking your chosen cut on the electric pellet smoker, remove it and prepare your faux Cambro.
2. Pour two-three gallons of hot tap water into the faux cambro. and quickly shut the lid.
3. Keep it shut for around 30 minutes then you can empty the water. Wrap your cooked meat in foil and leave your meat thermometer in it, place your meat on an aluminium pan and place in the faux cambro. atop a towel and lay another towel over the top.
4. Close the lid and hang the thermometer out of the lid. You’re able to keep your meat inside of this set up for around 3-4 hours and still be way above the food safety zone. Make sure you have a good digital meat thermometer.
You will find this technique works well for all meat, however, there is an exception. If your after crispy skins and crusty bark you might find that Cambro will soften and lose its original texture.
Keeping It Clean
Having a faux cambro will come in handy for ensuring your meat is ready when your guests and side dishes are. Always make sure you thoroughly clean it after use. Use a soap with bleach or just dilute some chlorine with a few gallons of water. You don’t want the reminiscent of last months BBQ on your beer!
You know that feeling when the meat is finished and you can see it seeing to dry out, your heart starts to sink. This is a top-notch way to ensure you serving up highest quality meat, once again you will be the master of your BBQ or smoker just don’t hope for a crispy exterior!