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I borrowed a buddies pellet smoker to test it out. I got it going bright this morning. Got it up to about 225 and loaded it up a 6.5 pound Boston Butt. It never really stayed at 225, but hovered between 200 and 225 for the first 3-4 hours of cooking.

Then the fire went out, it started to drop. The meat was around 130. I wrapped it in tin foil and set it on my outdoor table while I looked at the smoker. After an hour of not getting it going again, I put it in the oven @ 225. After another hour I got the smoker working. Turns out the fan got jammed up and I had to get it moving.

So the question is, is my food still safe? A summary of the facts:

  1. 6.5 Boston Butt smoked for about 3-4 hours @ 200-225, temp got to around 130.
  2. Fire went out, It spent one hour in foli and an other hour in the oven @ 225.
  3. Temp when going back onto the smoker was about 125.
  4. Now everything is working, it is running @ 250 and the meat is 163.
  5. I plan on cooking it to 195 or 203 (if time permits).

Thoughts? Thanks!

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The standard metric for safety is the cumulative time in the 'danger zone' temperature of 40 to 140°F. Which we really don't know, as that would also include things like bringing it home from the store and stuff like that.

From the sounds of things, you left it out for less than an hour. As such, you should serve it ... but serve it immediately or hold it in a low oven or crock pot.

If you tend to leave out food for people to go back for seconds, and then pack up the leftovers after dinner, I'd also recommend a crock pot or low oven ... and make sure that it's chilled down promptly after dinner.

If you have a really, really long trip from the store, and you didn't transport the uncooked meat in a cooler, it's possible that you might want to avoid serving the food to immune-compromised people, as it'll be a slightly higher risk.**

** Although all food is technically risky ... you have no idea if that pre-wrapped package went for a 30 min walk with a customer through the grocery store before they changed their mind and returned it to the cooler.

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