Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boston Butt Telemetry

Another slow-cooked pork weekend...

We were given a Big Green Egg by Martin & Andrew Farach-Colton. The Egg is great at high-temperature grilling like steaks, but comes into its own for slow cooking, like pulled pork. Last time I did this and posted progress on Facebook, Bharat Mediratta wanted more data: specifically, a chart of temperature versus time. Last time, I bought a Redi-Chek (see how appealing a product name is when you misspell it in several ways?) remote thermometer: the transmitter has a probe that goes in the pork, and you can keep track of the internal temperature within a hundred or so feet with the remote. This time, I used Gawker, time-lapse software for the Mac, to track the temperature overnight, then replayed the movie (yeah, low-tech) to fill in a Google spreadsheet.

Here's the temperature chart:

You can see the plateau at about 170˚F from 4:30am to 8:00am. According to collected wisdom on the internet, this is when the fat and connective tissue break down. I prefer to think of it as a phase change of the Pork molecule, analogous to heated water pausing at 100˚C while all the energy goes into creating water vapor. I don't know the chemical formula for pork, but it sure must involve some tasty elements!

This time around, I had the Egg configured just right, so it maintained a constant 215-ish˚F all night, and I didn't have to wake up multiple times to adjust the vents. It was done in less than 12 hours, so must have been a bit smaller than the one I cooked last time.

Oh, and it tasted great...