Cooking Low and Slow at 200

Discussion in 'Beef' started by pete esche, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. pete esche

    pete esche Newbie

    Hi!  I'm new to this forum.

    I've been reading about how some folks cook their briskets for a long time at 200 degrees. This sounds like a feasible idea but I'm wondering about food safety. Wouldn't this put a packer brisket in the danger zone for a fairly long time?

  2. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic

    Depends on how big the brisket is and how much airflow you have through your smoker.

    Also, the danger zone for whole muscle meats like brisket is less of an issue (not to be ignored completely, mind you) than it is for poultry, pork and ground meats like burger and sausage.

    With beef, even steaks are often cooked to only 130-135 degrees. But then they are usually cooked and eaten long before the 4 hour mark also.

    Personally, I think the bigger issue is getting the brisket to the proper temperature to achieve proper fat rendering and tenderness when the chamber is only 200 degrees. You want the brisket to get up to 200-205. With a chamber temp of 200 you are going to be cooking it forever, like over 24 hours probably, in order to get it to 200, if it even gets there. And it will probably dry out during that long of a cook.

    Most like to keep their cook chamber above 220. I like to keep my cook chamber about 275 personally.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  3. pete esche

    pete esche Newbie

    Thanks for the response!

    I know from taking a food safety course that bacteria can be killed with heat. Thats why chicken needs to be cooked hotter and longer and why burgers may be unsafe from the surface contaminants being ground into the middle and not heated far enough. What I'm worried about are bacteria that manufacture toxins while they're in the safe zone. While the bacteria ultimately die if the temps get high enough (certainly the case with BBQ), the toxins left behind do not. 

    So I wonder if the bacteria that create toxins can also only be found on the surface of the meat, or if they are also spread throughout the meat. I'd think a good dose of salt and smoke would kill anything on the surface. 

    I've cooked brisket in my pellet stove overnight at 200 so that it doesn't overcook. It's probably stupid for a number of reasons, especially because it probably wouldn't do that in 8 hours at 250.

  4. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic

    Once the surface temp of the meat gets above 140 degrees for a few minutes, you've killed off the bacteria that creates botchulism, which is the primary one we worry about. The interior of the meat is more or less sterile until you cut it or probe it, or inject it.

    This is one reason I don't like injecting my meat, because you run the risk of pushing containments into the meat along with the injection liquid. Meats like brisket and pork butt that go up to the 200 degree range are well past the danger zone for bacteria growth for much longer than it takes to kill the bacteria.

    Sausages and cured meats can be cooked much lower because the cure that they use contain nitrates and nitrites that kill the botchulism bacteria. But that's a whole other discussion.
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I taught Food Safety several years. Try this experiment...Set your Oven to 200°F, preheat 20 minutes...Now stick you hand up to the elbow in and hold it there. How long did you last? One minute? Maybe two...That is how long it takes the Surface of your hand to get over 165°F. The temp of Really hot water that you pull away from instantly and the Temp that kills Bacteria in Seconds!  Botulinum Toxin is heat-labile and destroyed at 185°F in 5 minutes. So in this situation, Zero worries there Hot Smoking. Toxins that are heat-stable are from bacteria like Staph Aureus, common, but need time in optimal conditions to grow, an hour+ at 80-90°F...Like Warming meat to room temp before smoking!!!! However, a salt/sugar Rub and going directly from refer into a 200°F or higher smoker, even 24 hours, is not ANYWHERE close to Optimal, even if you Inject...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016

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