CHEF TEC 101 - Saving a Bad Cook

CHEF TEC 101 - Saving a Bad Cook

Posted by Chef Greg Mueller on 19th Aug 2019

Sometimes, when cooking, things don't always go as planned.

Regardless of how prepared we are, some cooks just don’t turn out the way we had intended. In the cases of BBQ and low and slow cooks, I often see posts about meat being tough or chewy. This tells me that the meat wasn’t cooked long enough or rested long enough. I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks to salvage those “off” cooks!


Determining doneness is more than just reading a temperature!

Yes, you can master that medium-rare steak by cooking to an internal of 133ºF. But, in the case of briskets and pork butts, doneness is more than a temperature. You can ensure a tender end result simply by inserting a cheap wooden skewer into the meat. If it inserts with little resistance, then you’re good to go! If you’re in a crunch and need to get the food finished, I recommend wrapping the meat in foil and increasing the grill temperature by 50ºF-75ºF. It will push the brisket or butt to finish significantly faster. You can even cut pork butts in half, wrap, and get them back on the smoker! However, let’s say you've already pulled the meat and you’re almost ready to serve. You have a few options… You can simply get your knife and start chopping. Keep the meat moist by adding au jus or BBQ sauce!

REC TEC's Gourmet BBQ Sauces are vinegar-based perfect for keeping meat juicy and flavorful!

Cooking with Leftovers

If you overcook something like chicken, it’s hard to salvage in the moment.

But you can still make some delicious chicken hash, pot pies, soups, or stews! One of the most delicious leftover meals I've ever made at RTG included prime rib scraps. Our  Prime Rib & Bleu Cheese Pasta was awesome, and can easily be tweaked with leftover brisket, chuck roast, or any morsel of game. Get creative and keep some go-to recipes that use ground meats on hand. It’s easy to swap those recipes and use pulled pork, chopped meats, etc. Pulled pork enchiladas, shredded brisket tacos, quesadillas, or brisket pot pie are some of my favorites. 

Check out Lane's BBQ's easy Brisket Pot Pie recipe from Funday Friday!

Tasting is Key

Tasting your food is one of the most commonly missed steps by the amateur cook.

People are often astonished at how much rub I add to meat. Yes, I always season aggressively! But oftentimes, especially when cooking larger pieces of meat, it’s hard to get that flavor into the middle of the meat. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to do this without you knowing. I use a coffee grinder for coarse spices and seasonings. To take that brisket over the top, I’ll add some  Ben's Heffer Dust to the grinder and process it until it creates the the finest, most flavorful dust. After a little sprinkle on sliced brisket or steak, it just melts and creates the perfect bite. This method can be used for everything!

Final Thoughts

All in all, salvaging a bad cook can be simple.

More often than not, your meals are going to come off the REC TEC perfectly. Whether it’s using your smoked meats in a different recipe, adding some more seasoning, or being better about determining doneness, you can always save a cook that didn’t come out quite right. If you ever have any questions about cooking, find me on social media or give me a call at REC TEC. We’re always here to help! Happy grilling, and we’ll see you at the REC TEC.

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Greg Mueller is a WORLDCHEFS-certified master chef and the Director of Culinary Innovation at REC TEC Grills. He has over 18 years of experience and is knowledgeable in all things food and cooking.

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