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SMOKE BREAK: Patience, my young Padiwan

Updated: Apr 9

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So, what’s the difference between done and ready to eat?

Meat is considered done when it reaches the USDA guideline for a temperature where it’s safe to eat.


Here are the most common temps.


Ready is another story.

Take ribs, for example, technically they’re done at 165°F internal temperature. But the consistency will still be tough until the connective tissue melts, which happens between 190 and 203°F. Then the collagen and fat will have made the meat tender and juicy.

But, you can overcook things, too.


You’ll know with brisket because it becomes too tender. It’ll actually get mushy and fall apart. Try to keep it between 225 and 250°F for best results.

So, you may be cooking past the done guideline, and that’s fine. Patience and persistence pay off in dividends when smoking. Go the distance. Smoking takes time (4-16 hours) and stamina that aren’t necessarily involved in other types of cooking. It also presents a different set of challenges.

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