Butts, foil, and bark

Discussion in 'Pork' started by packplantpath, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    Hi folks. Few questions. Had good success cooking butts. No problems there. The issue is, like most of you, I like bark. But, the butt tends to come out better if I foil a bit towards the end, thus ruining the bark. I've gone naked the whole way, and I couldn't seem to get it as tender. Ideas?

  2. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When did you foil the butt? At what temp? I usually wait as long as possible till I foil, 160º if I can wait that long and have the time. Another thing that helps is Fat Cap DOWN. You are not going to get much bark on a fat cap, so placing it down will give alot more bark and it will still be plenty tender when it comes out of the foil.
  3. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Foil at 165 or whatever temp you normally do, then unwrap and put it back on the smoker for the last 5 degrees or so. If you normally pull it off at 195, then unwrap at 190 and finish to 195 unwrapped. That gives you a little firmer bark with the benefit of foiling.
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Joe, how do you pick the dang thing up? I have to lift it by the foil alot of times as it pretty much is "pulling" itself apart if I try to pick it up.
  5. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If it is coming apart like that, I would just peel back the foil so the sides and top of the butt are exposed to let the bark "firm up". (watch out for the juices) I always cook fatcap down and don't eat that part anyhow, so I would not care if that firms or even really gets much bark at all.........usually just wind up being wadded in the old foil at my house anyhow.

    Personally, for home cooking, I just keep them wrapped the same way you do, but I have had requests for a firmer bark and that is how I wound up getting it.

    Great Pic BTW. Just ate lunch and it is still making me hungry.
  6. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    I seem to think I may have foiled at around 150*, but not sure now. I'll wait a bit longer and try. Thanks.
  7. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nothing wrong with 150º, when time is pressing, the sooner you wrap, the sooner higher temps will arrive. Also a more sugary rub will seem to give you a better bark.
  8. brianj517

    brianj517 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi all,

    Like Joe said, for a firmer bark, remove foil for the last 5* or so. To make lifting a little easier I place the whole roast in a HD foil pan (fat cap DOWN, of course), and cover with regular HD foil. Sams club has the HD food service pans in two sizes here and they come in packages of 18 for around 8 or 9 bucks I think. They are sturdy enough that I can usually clean 'em up and re-use them two or three times before throw'n 'em out.

  9. zapper

    zapper Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    It seems that much of the above is the universal truth. Foil softens bark, foil makes for quicker and more tender juicier results, moving a butt after it gets close to finished tends to cause it to fall apart and so on. Been there and done that. I have never really been able to get the unfoiled bark effect on a foiled meat, plain and simple, there seems to be a trade off. I am wondering though....... What if the bark was firmed up a bit with say.....maybe, a propane torch? I mean I see the chefs on TV brown cheese on soups and such with a torch, maybe it could help the bark dry out? Just a thought.

    The foil pan method seems to be about the best bet at trying to firm up the bark after cooking foiled. Maybe unfoil in the pan or peel away as much foil as you can to expose the bark and raise the temp to try and toughen the barkfor the last leg of the cook. My only concern is that I like for the meat to be foil wrapped in juices and towel wrapped for a long rest. This would seem to soften the bark again. Back to that trade off it seems!

    Just to stir the pot, so to speak. I cook fat side up, logic in my head is that gravity will pull the juices down around and meybe even into the meat under the fatcap. There is a minor problem doing this, any crust/bark that forms on the fat is usually not eaten and it is not really the same kind of bark that forms on the lean meat. The bark on the lean tends to be intergrated with the meat and much tougher while the bark on fat is really more like a crust formed by cooking the rub at the surface. Soooooo, I end up with a crust covered fat cap on the top (that often will just slide off) The edges from the fat cap to somewhere around to the bottom of the meat will have the "Perfect bark" and then the bottom never reaches the state of dry bark because that is where the juices are dripping from and it is too wet to form a good bark.

    Hmmm, next time I will have to try fat side down. It is scarey to try change sometimes.
  10. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Be careful with that torch, especially if you have a lot of sugar in the rub. Could get a burnt taste to the bark real easy I would suspect.

    I cook fat cap down for the bark formation aspect and also if something goes wrong with the cook and I get a temp spike or a flame, I have that little layer of protection between the heat and the meat.

    Maybe the answer is cooking in side ways.............[​IMG]
  11. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I know there is a group that likes fat cap UP. I was actually taught that way when I first started smoking butts. I find, as long as I do not invert the butt and leave it fat cap DOWN, the bark does not get too moist, but still I am going to try to open it for the last 5º or so.
  12. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I did a lot of expermenting over the years to make up my mind on what way I prefer to do things. But the one constant was all the experiments tasted good. [​IMG]

    Smoke on!
  13. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, know. I can't help but wonder if a lot of the differences we find in bark may come down to different cooking temps. I know the texture can change with that variable.

    I am usually in the 250 to 275 range, so I have a good solid bark going into the foil..........lower temps probably would have a different bark.

    Hmmm......just a thought about this particular topic.
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I am thinking it is temps and the rub used. More sugar, more bark. But I am kinda guessing here too. [​IMG]
  15. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yep, yep. [​IMG]
  16. zapper

    zapper Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I don't ever recall being dissapointed with a butt, and I have never had anyone complain that there was not enough bark in their pulled pork sammie! Thinking "Burnt ends" and smoking a butt is after all two differnrt animals[​IMG]
  17. squeezy

    squeezy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes and a higher temp would help to carmelize the sugar which darkens the bark. Also think mustard slather makes a difference also!
  18. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    Geeze. I deleted the replies in my inbox for this thread and couldn't find it again. Finally figured out how to search for it. Bit behind I see. Thanks for all the great information folks. Lots of things for me to try here. Hopefully, I'll find one that works for me. But like somebody said, all the experimenting will taste good!!
  19. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lately, I have been foiling the butts at 175-180, I think I like the results. I also then take it out of the foil, save the jiuce, and place in new foil then cooler for 1-2 hrs!

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