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| Tips & Tricks | Navigating the 'Stall' in low 'n slow barbecue

Navigating the 'Stall' in low 'n slow barbecue

Few things are as mystifying – and frustrating – as the infamous "stall." Just when you think your meat is on the right track, the temperature plateaus, and hours seem to crawl by without any progress. So, what exactly is this stall, and how can one overcome it? Let’s dive into this fascinating aspect of the low 'n slow barbecue journey.

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1. The Stall - what is it and why does it happen?

What is the Stall? While barbecuing meat at low temperatures, especially large cuts like brisket or lamb shoulder, there's often a long period (several hours) where the internal temperature of the meat stops rising.

Why Does it Happen? The primary culprit is evaporative cooling. As the meat cooks, moisture from its surface begins to evaporate, cooling the meat much like how sweating cools the human body. This evaporation counteracts the heat from the barbecue, causing the internal temperature to plateau.

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Embrace the Stall

Sometimes, the best strategy is to do nothing. Given enough time, the stall will naturally resolve, and the temperature will begin to rise again. This method requires a lot of patience but often yields excellent results, as the prolonged cooking can further break down connective tissues, resulting in tender meat.

Wrapping - The 'Texas Crutch':

  • This technique involves wrapping the meat in aluminium foil or butcher paper once it hits the stall.
  • The wrap acts as a barrier, reducing the rate of evaporation and thus speeding up the cooking process.
  • An added benefit: the wrap can help retain moisture, resulting in juicier results.

Increasing the Heat:

  • While it's not the traditional method, some pitmasters choose to slightly increase their grill or smoker's temperature during the stall.
  • This can push the meat through the stall faster, but it's essential to ensure the temperature isn't raised too much, or you risk moving away from the low 'n slow ethos and into a tricky balancing act.
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3. What about liquid?

There's a common belief that spraying or mopping the meat with liquid during the stall can help. While this can introduce additional flavours and keep the surface moist, it might prolong the stall. Adding liquid can increase the meat’s evaporative cooling process, so if you choose to mop or spritz, do it for flavour, not to combat the stall.

4. The importance of resting

After overcoming the stall and achieving the desired internal temperature, it might be tempting to dive right in. However, letting the meat rest after cooking allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a moist and flavourful bite. This step is just as crucial as managing the stall, so don't skip it!

Conclusion

The temperature stall in low 'n slow barbecue is a rite of passage for every pitmaster. While it can test your patience, understanding its causes and knowing how to approach it ensures that you're always in control. Whether you choose to wait it out, wrap it up, or tweak your temperatures, remember that the heart of barbecuing lies in the journey, the patience, and the passion. Embrace the stall as a part of the process, and you'll be rewarded with delectable, melt-in-your-mouth results every time.

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Posted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand