How Meat Cooks

Imagine you’re a pork shoulder on barbecue day…

8:00 a.m. – A rude awakening as the opening refrigerator door clicks on the light. You still feel violated from the dry rub facial last night, but it really improved your tone. Only 37F inside – Brrrr!

8:05 a.m. – Now THIS is an improvement! A 250F sauna – mood lighting from a crackling fire, sweet and clear smoke wafting by, and some old friends from the fridge just showed up. The warm, moist air is relaxing.  Some tingling sensations as a bit of acid beads on your brow, soaks in and begins to form a smoke ring. Nap time.

12:00 p.m. – 120F inside – your proteins are beginning to denature and shrink. You’re wringing yourself out like a sponge.

2:00 p.m. – 160F inside and you feel small and tough. You’re losing weight – mostly water. If you were a steak, you’d be well-done and on your way to shoe leather. But unlike steak, you’re loaded with fat and connective tissue, which is only now getting into the game.

4:00 p.m. – still only 165F inside – a temperature plateau caused by evaporative cooling. Your connective tissues, made of tough collagen, are beginning to break down into sweet, molten gelatin. You’re slowly losing your composure, and that’s a good thing.

6:00 p.m. – 195F inside and you’re carefully removed from the smoker, wrapped in a few sheets of paper and stuffed in a warm cooler to hang out with your friends.

7:00 p.m. – everybody loves you. Sure beats pulling a pig’s foreleg around a feedlot all day!