Last post I talked about tradition and its effect on barbecue. This go-round let’s look at cook time as it relates to barbecue. Y’all know recipes are supposed to tell you temp and time. Well, with the seasoned Pitmaster that theory is shot to hell. There favorite answer at the end of all things barbecue is “when it’s done, it’s done.”
Well, for those of you that need an actual answer I think I have one. One of my barbecue sweethearts, Shaun Guyot of Creole Brothers BBQ shared the pics you see below. Now I don’t know how true this may be but I think it’s a good jumping off point for some of y’all. And no I didn’t ask Bigmista if this was true for him because I don’t wanna.
I know and hear the low and slow mantra from practically every barbecue person I know. That’s all fine and good for a crotchety old Pitmaster but what about folks that are trying to reach that crotchety level of ‘when it’s done, it’s done’? Don’t give me your momma’s recipe that calls for a pinch of this and a dash of that. Last I checked, official measures don’t come in pinches, dashes, or buttloads. There are actual bbq cookbooks that give you recipes. But I still think its safe to say what goes for him, may not go for you.
I think I’m also safe in saying that with any given Pitmaster, they seldom if ever rely on temp and time. I think Bigmista even scoffed when he walked by and saw the above pics. That’s why I didn’t ask his opinion. While he may be my day-to-day gauge for all things barbecue, his unsolicited implied side eye is what you get from most bbq guys as it relates to how long it takes to smoke a piece of meat. The sheer cockiness of a Pitmaster and how long you should smoke something was never more evident than when Bigmista was asked to do an Arby’s commercial.
That’s right, Bigmista was part of the Arby’s 13-hour brisket campaign. They were paying him to promote their brisket. You would think he would cooperate and say the lines they wanted. Not so Obi-Wan. In addition to not saying their brisket was better than his, he refused to say he would start smoking his meat for 13 hours. Hence, his Arby’s career was reduced to his famous line “That’s longer than I smoke my meat.”
You see the art of smoking is unpredictable, unforgiving and can be your undoing. It’s why I’m taken aback by franchise barbecue spots. While they may have a process, they don’t have a love for the craft. Someone tells them to take it out when it reaches a certain temp after a certain time and that’s it, barbecue the commercial way. Now I’m not mad at them for capitalizing on their process but as much as it is within me I have no plans to visit a franchise bbq. While I may frequent other chain establishments I gonna need my barbecue to be made with some love which requires time and patience.
Now I personally don’t have the patience to be a Pitmaster. When we would do events that required smoking onsite, Bigmista was always fussing at me to close the smoker. I would get angry because we would have a line of folks waiting for food and it shouldn’t take this damn long to feed them. My lack of patience is also why I stopped going to events. Yeah, that and I just didn’t want to anymore.
On the rare occasions when I do have to don my Mrs. Mista hat and fill in for Bigmista, I appreciate him and his patience all the more. Did I mention I have little patience for the art of barbecue? Yeah, I think I did. Add to that fact that I don’t cook on purpose, not even for our daughter, and you understand why I appreciate him. It seems understandable now that he has the patience to put up with my foolishness. I don’t know if that is true for all BBQ Widows but that’s not my business.
Now I gave you that guide at the very beginning but you still have to take into consideration that various smokers mean various outcomes. You may allow for a low draft through the vent, a guru, or just blowing on the coals. You may open the Ranch Kettle (one of Neil’s favorites) 10 times or you may take 10 naps (also Neil’s favorite). You may use wood, pellets, charcoal or a combination plate. Regardless of what you do the final answer is still ‘it’s done when it’s done.’