I believe that the greatest compliment that you can be paid in BBQ Catering is for your clients to tell you that EVERYTHING was good…across the board. You don’t have to hit a home run, but you do have to remain consistent. The way you do that is through strict time and temperature methods and enforcing this with all your employees. As an example, a pork butt must be cooked in a temperature of between 220* and 240* until you reach an internal temperature of 190*. We have published our cooking chart in the post labeled “The BIG Secret,” but this is so important, I am going to post it again.
If there is a secret, I would say that it would be using a digital meat thermometer throughout the cooking process. This allows consistency…and you can cook your meat the same way every time. If you’ve ever hit a home run one week with your meat and then the next week when you think that you are doing it the same way and you strike out, chances are you were not using a meat thermometer.
Another question that we frequently hear is “How long do I cook it?” There is no correct answer for that because there is an assumption that every oven in the world is calibrated just exactly the same. Meat in Denver cooks differently than meat in San Diego. This again stresses the importance of the digital thermometer. So the correct answer would be that you cook it until you reach the correct internal temperature. Temperature always prevails over time.
These are the internal temperatures that we have always used in competition…and always check in the center of the meat and away from a bone.
Pork Butt – 190*
Pork Tenderloin – 140-160*
Pork Loin – 160-170*
**Most all cuts of pork should be over 160*
Pork Ribs – Unfortunately ribs are not subject to temperature rules and can be judged done when you lift them up in the center and they begin to break.
Chicken – 170*
Beef Brisket – 190*
Other cuts of Beef
1. Rare- 125-133*
2. Medium Rare- 133-140*
3. Medium- 140-145*
4. Medium Well- 145-150*
5. Well- (Anything over 150*)
**However, industry standards say that we should cook all of our beef to 160* for food safety! We would urge you to keep a small notebook in your pocket and keep careful notes as you cook for the temperatures that best suit your individual tastes.
The greatest example of consistency I can give you occurred to us in 2001 at the South Carolina state championship. The top 10 teams in each of the 4 categories….beef, pork, chicken and ribs were announced and The Q Company was never called…until they called Grand Champion and then they called our name. Janet and I looked at each other in disbelief. They had to call us again to make us believe it was true. What happened was that every one of our 4 scores were within 1 point of each other and inconsistency caused the other competitors the overall prize.