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Smoking Meat - Tricks with Sugared Rubs


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I usually smoke pork butt upto 13 hrs and brisket for 23hrs. Trying to figure out how to raise the temperature in my smoker, shorten the cooking time, without burning my rub. I use brown and/or sugar-in-the-raw. Even at the 185-215 levels Im finding that my sugars carmelize too quickly...usually after a few hours. Ive tried leaving the sugar out of the rub and the flavor sacrifice is too much.

Ive tried adding sugar later in the process thru sugared apple juice and although that helps the carmelization process, in my opinion, sugar

needs to be in the rub. Adding rub later in the process is another option. That said, I come from a school where one tries to disturb the meat as little as possible.

Anyone have the answer, a resource to consult or similar problem?

Im testing with Stevia but shhhh, dont tell.

"Your girlfriend is a vegetarian, tell her she should eat rabbit...they're vegetarians too" Ali

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I usually smoke pork butt upto 13 hrs and brisket for 23hrs. Trying to figure out how to raise the temperature in my smoker, shorten the cooking time, without burning my rub.  I use brown and/or sugar-in-the-raw. Even at the 185-215 levels Im finding that my sugars carmelize too quickly...usually after a few hours.    Ive tried leaving the sugar out of the rub and the flavor sacrifice is too much.

Ive tried adding sugar later in the process thru sugared apple juice and although that helps the carmelization process, in my opinion, sugar

needs to be in the rub.  Adding rub later in the process is another option.  That said, I come from a school where one tries to disturb the meat as little as possible.

Anyone have the answer, a resource to consult or similar problem?

Im testing with Stevia but shhhh, dont tell.

I tend not to use sugar or very little of it in rubs. At any higher temperature I am not sure what to suggest other than to omit it or add later. Those temps you speak of are they at the cooker lid or at the grate? I do butt at about 250 dome lid temp, which in my cooker, equals 220 or so at the grate. Frankly, I follow the cold naked butt method. There is a thread further down this page called Behold my Butt with lots of commentary from E-Gullet butt smokers. If you are into foiling your butt you could add the sugar at that point and return it un-foiled to finish. That should protect the sugars and only have them brown near the end of the cook time

I am including a link to the Weber Smokey Mountain site. Tons of advice here not all specific to Weber. Lots of real smoke heads there and they can give good advice on almost anything smoke related

Virtual Weber Bullet

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...Even at the 185-215 levels Im finding that my sugars carmelize too quickly...usually after a few hours.    Ive tried leaving the sugar out of the rub and the flavor sacrifice is too much.

Ive tried adding sugar later in the process thru sugared apple juice and although that helps the carmelization process, in my opinion, sugar

needs to be in the rub.  Adding rub later in the process is another option.  That said, I come from a school where one tries to disturb the meat as little as possible.

Anyone have the answer, a resource to consult or similar problem?

If your meat has sugar on it from the start, I don't think you're going to be able to avoid carmelizing/burning it while exposing it to heat for that long of a period of time.

lancastermike's suggestion of cooking in foil for a majority of the time will work but you're sacrificing BBQ/smoke flavor.

The carmelization issue is why many BBQ joints won't add sauce with sugar in it until the meat is being served. No burnt sugar that way.

Perhaps some of the smoke-meisters on the board will weigh in on this. I'm wondering if you could get away with an even lower cooking temperature for a longer period of time or if the sugar will burn no matter what given its chemical make-up.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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How much sugar is in your rub? I use Klink's Dry Rub and as you can see, there is sugar, but not a very high proportion.

I've never had trouble with this rub burning, and perhaps it is because of the low proportion of sugar.

Further, I tend not to rub butt (we like it nekked), but do rub brisket and ribs.

One of the things to keep in mind is that the meat quits absorbing the smoke when it reaches 140 (F), which is why I put them on as cold as possible (including sticking the hunk o meat in the freezer when I get ready to start my Weber. Keeping this "smoke point" in mind, there's probably no reason not to wrap it in foil as it reaches the stall point (usually about 170).

And, given my experience with braising and smoking, I think you do need the low and slow to effectively break down that collegen.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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If you wrap it in foil you have to start it bare THEN wrap it after it’s had some time to absorb smoke. Otherwise the smoke will not penetrate the meat. After the first 2-3 hours or when the meat reaches a certain point, it will no longer absorb much smoke flavor. So you could wrap it at that time to help prevent the sugar rub from burning.

However, you might want to adjust your levels of sugar and possibly try other sugars. If the reason you want to avoid burning the sugar is because you don’t like the flavor, maybe there is something about that raw sugar that you don’t like. Sugars with molasses, such as the raw sugar, will have a certain bitterness that is greatly enhanced by caramelization. Try cutting back on the fancy sugar and/or maybe use white sugar or a combination of both.

I find that although smoking does slowly and deeply caramelize the butt, it really shouldn’t burn the rub. My butts look black, but on further inspection it is really a dark brown/mahogany/redish-type color and there is nothing burned(burnt?) in the rub(be it spices or sugar).

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I'm not getting it - what's wrong with carmelized sugar? Burnt, ok, that's not good, but I don't think I've ever had a properly cooked low 'n slow butt that had a burnt sugar taste.

I think the trend at cookoffs and rub recipes is toward more sugar in rubs, not less. Paul Kirk's rub book suggests a 1:1 ratio of sugar to salt, with each component representing about a third of the total rub. But that's old school. Ratios of 1.5:1 or even 2:1 of sugar to salt in published, prize winning rubs are not uncommon. Sweet wins contests.

If you're trying to raise the temp and still cook BBQ, you've fallen off the path grasshopper. That ain't BBQ. It's smoke-roasting. Still good of course, but at 350 degrees, I would ratchet down the sugar too.

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Sweet wins contests. 

I can't speak for others, but I'm not trying to win contests, just make good Q. If I want it sweeter I'll add sugar to the sauce.

And if that makes me "old school" I ain't bothered one little bit.

Kevin

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain

Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

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Alton Brown has a recipe for pork butt that involves brining the butt in a water, salt, and molasses solution before applying a saltless, sugarless rub. I don't know how well it works.

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I use Texas BBQ rub which has a good amount of turbinado. I usually smoke it at about 210 for 15 hours or so (I never seem to need the 18-22 hours most people talk about). I've never notice a bad carmelization taste. (I don't use sugar for butts, ribs or chix.)

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I use Texas BBQ rub which has a good amount of turbinado.  I usually smoke it at about 210 for 15 hours or so (I never seem to need the 18-22 hours most people talk about).  I've never notice a bad carmelization taste.  (I don't use sugar for butts, ribs or chix.)

A little off topic, but 15 hours? 22 hours? I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250. You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

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I use Texas BBQ rub which has a good amount of turbinado.  I usually smoke it at about 210 for 15 hours or so (I never seem to need the 18-22 hours most people talk about).  I've never notice a bad carmelization taste.  (I don't use sugar for butts, ribs or chix.)

A little off topic, but 15 hours? 22 hours? I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250. You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

Let me pile on here with Ian. 23 hours on a brisket is a looong time, old school or not. I've never cooked a brisket for more than about 12 hrs to get to 195 internal. Perhaps it's the cooking time and not the sugar content of your rub that's giving you trouble Kevin.

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A little off topic, but 15 hours?  22 hours?  I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250.  You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

I know. Even my Big Ass Brisket (all 19 pounds of it, cut in half so it would fit on the kettle) only took 12 hours. I usually figure about 8 hours for an 11-13 pound shoulder. And, I hold it to 225 or under.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I’ve had briskets take me up to 20 hours or so, but never a butt, which I’d say usually takes around 15 hours. If I’m using the weber bullet it seems that the stall comes just at exactly the same time that my charcoal starts running really low. So I have to pack in the charcoal or struggle just to keep the smoker on the low end of the desirable range. It’s times when this happens that it takes several more hours to get into the 190s and often I just give up in the 180s after, say, 18 hours or so. The butt is a lot more forgiving. If I run out of charcoal and can’t keep up the temperature with a brisket, I usually pull it out, wrap it, and finish it in the oven. Otherwise, the hour or so that losing heat at the stall adds to the cooking process will almost guarantee a dead brisket. But the butt doesn’t seem to mind a bit of abuse and that’s probably why I make them so much more often.

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Let me pile on here with Ian.  23 hours on a brisket is a looong time, old school or not.  I've never cooked a brisket for more than about 12 hrs to get to 195 internal.  Perhaps it's the cooking time and not the sugar content of your rub that's giving you trouble Kevin.

Scooter,

You've conflated a couple of messages. I've never smoked anything longer than 10 hours. My comment was about being old school was an objection to using rubs that are mostly sugar.

Kevin

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain

Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

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I use little to no sugar in my rubs, so no worries about over caramelization. And I'm told I make some pretty mean 'q. But I've never entered a contest...

Sweet wins contests. 

I can't speak for others, but I'm not trying to win contests, just make good Q. If I want it sweeter I'll add sugar to the sauce.

And if that makes me "old school" I ain't bothered one little bit.

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A little off topic, but 15 hours?  22 hours?  I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250.  You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

I get the same time frame when smoking flat cuts as well. I used to always smoke whole briskets but unless I am in the mood to spend a whole weekend smoking to make burnt ends out of the point end, I find it easier to smoke a flat cut. While they don't have the massive fat cap that a whole brisket does, my butcher knows I am smoking and leaves about 1/4 inch or so of fat on where he can. I also mop with a bourbon/apple cider/brown sugar mop which helps maintain the moisture.

Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

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I use Texas BBQ rub which has a good amount of turbinado.  I usually smoke it at about 210 for 15 hours or so (I never seem to need the 18-22 hours most people talk about).  I've never notice a bad carmelization taste.  (I don't use sugar for butts, ribs or chix.)

A little off topic, but 15 hours? 22 hours? I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250. You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

briskets and shoulders take different times to cook regardless of size. pork takes about 2 hrs a # while beef seems to take about 1hr- 1.5 to get there per lb. Brined pork seems to take less time. who knows why? just does...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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A little off topic, but 15 hours?  22 hours?  I've seen long smoking times other places, but I got my (half) brisket up to 185-190 in 6 hours or so at a temp between 225-250.  You're probably better at this than me, but please explain!

Ian

I did a corned beef flat once, and that took about 8 hours or so. When I've done whole packers, they were always over 12. But I read a lot about 18 hour smokes -- never happened to me yet. Butts usually take 10-15 hours, depending on how patient I am and how much beer and coffee I have.

(good news -- a friend just bought a weekend house and found a brand new weber bullet in the basement. He has no interest in smoking. Come to papa!)

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I'm not getting it - what's wrong with carmelized sugar?  Burnt, ok, that's not good, but I don't think I've ever had a properly cooked low 'n slow butt that had a burnt sugar taste. 

I use sugar in my rubs for pork. Looking at the recipe(s) I have used, the rubs consist of as much as 50% sugar. It never tastes like burnt sugar.

I cook at 225-250, the meat finishes with a lovely deep mahogany color, I don't think that the sugar alone contributes to this because I have seen non-sugar rubbed pieces of meat come off with similar color. Are you sure the color you are seeing is from the sugar?

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I’ve had briskets take me up to 20 hours or so, but never a butt, which I’d say usually takes around 15 hours. If I’m using the weber bullet it seems that the stall comes just at exactly the same time that my charcoal starts running really low. So I have to pack in the charcoal or struggle just to keep the smoker on the low end of the desirable range. It’s times when this happens that it takes several more hours to get into the 190s and often I just give up in the 180s after, say, 18 hours or so. The butt is a lot more forgiving. If I run out of charcoal and can’t keep up the temperature with a brisket, I usually pull it out, wrap it, and finish it in the oven. Otherwise, the hour or so that losing heat at the stall adds to the cooking process will almost guarantee a dead brisket. But the butt doesn’t seem to mind a bit of abuse and that’s probably why I make them so much more often.

What temp do you smoke at?

Man, I'm going to have to get me one of those bullets.

Ian

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I’ve had briskets take me up to 20 hours or so, but never a butt, which I’d say usually takes around 15 hours. If I’m using the weber bullet it seems that the stall comes just at exactly the same time that my charcoal starts running really low. So I have to pack in the charcoal or struggle just to keep the smoker on the low end of the desirable range. It’s times when this happens that it takes several more hours to get into the 190s and often I just give up in the 180s after, say, 18 hours or so. The butt is a lot more forgiving. If I run out of charcoal and can’t keep up the temperature with a brisket, I usually pull it out, wrap it, and finish it in the oven. Otherwise, the hour or so that losing heat at the stall adds to the cooking process will almost guarantee a dead brisket. But the butt doesn’t seem to mind a bit of abuse and that’s probably why I make them so much more often.

What temp do you smoke at?

Man, I'm going to have to get me one of those bullets.

Ian

I shoot for exactly 232 degrees... But I settle on anything within about 10 degrees.

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