What’s up devils? Whether you’re an amateur barbecue cook or a seasoned pit master, odds are you have more likely than not encountered one of the most dreadful things in all of barbecue: the stall. Maybe you’re not familiar with the term, but you’ve probably encountered it in your own cooks. The temperature of your smoker is perfect at 225 F, the internal temperature of your meat rises steadily to 150 F, and then…it just stops. And it stays at 150 F, for long time. Your meat may have even decreased in heat by a couple of degrees. You start building your fire up more but to no avail. It does nothing to increase the temperature of your meat. Then, after about 6 hours, there’s suddenly some motion on your meat thermometer and the internal temperature starts to rise. How did this happen, what caused your barbecue stall, and how can you prevent it?
The barbecue stall has long been speculated over, and many theories were developed in an effort to explain the phenomenon. Many pit masters thought it was fat rendering on the meat, while others believed the barbecue stall was caused by the fat mixing with the protein, forming a collagen gelatin in the meat.
But none of those things were accurate. The answer, which was discovered by Dr. Greg Blonder who busted the barbecue stall myth for amazingribs.com, is actually pretty logical and obvious when you know what it is. The barbecue stall is caused by evaporative cooling. More simply, the meat is sweating.
The human body is made up of about 75% water, and when the body gets too hot, it sweats to cool it off. Animal meat is also predominantly water, and as the meat heats up, the water molecules inside are released, rise to the surface, and cool it off, and it stays that way until the water has completely evaporated, which can take hours.
So there you have it, the cause of the dreaded barbecue stall.
But how to beat it, you ask? There’s a couple of options. The new thing on the barbecue circuit is to simply cook at higher temperatures, and many pit masters are doing just that. The other, a more tried-and-true method, is known as the “Texas Crutch.” What this entails is wrapping your meat in aluminum foil with a liquid, beer or apple juice are common, that will heat up into a braise, and help your meat to cook more evenly and quicker, so you can get to eating it that much faster.