First Boston Butt Smoke planned for Saturday...

Discussion in 'Pork' started by imp81318, May 23, 2014.

  1. Hey all, new member here.  I just posted my general information in the Roll Call section, but I really joined to ask a few questions (I'm sure this is a first for you guys!).  As the thread title suggests, I am planning to smoke my first butt tomorrow and I have a few questions, but first I guess I should give a bit of background info so I get the right level of help/advice:

    I consider myself a novice smoker.  I've smoked about half a dozen racks of ribs and some chicken and a turkey breast and they've generally been really good but this is my first venture into pulled pork/butt.  I do all of my smoking on a Weber kettle grill (NOT smoker).  I have some mesquite chunks and applewood chips that I'll use for smoke, and I'll be using Earth's Finest all natural hardwood briquettes for fuel.  I know that using the Weber grill is not ideal for smoking, but I have learned to control the temps with a bit of TLC for 6+ hour rib smokes...

    For the picnic, I will be smoking a 6.80 lb boston butt.  We want to eat between 5 and 6 in the evening, and we have family coming in from out of town that will have to drive home after dinner so it is important that we not run hours late...  I am planning to get up around 4:30 to start the coals and rub the pork, with the goal of getting it on the heat around 5:30.  I am prepared to wrap with foil when it hits 160-170 if I get a stall, but if it doesn't stall I'll leave it unwrapped...

    So, my questions are two-fold:

    1.  When smoking ribs I usually have a pan of water and either beer or apple cider to add steam and keep them moist during the smoke, but I've found that this also helps to insulate and regulate the temperature in the grill.  I have not seen anyone suggesting to add a pan of water with a butt - is there a specific reason for this?  What about if I would cover the pan of water with foil to attempt to seal in the steam as much as possible but still get the insulating effect? Would that work, or am I really better off just skipping the water and paying closer attention to the grill throughout the day?

    2.  If I hit a stall, how quickly can/should I expect the temp to start to rise again after I wrap it up?  If I am going to wrap, is there any kind of rule of thumb or general idea as to how long after wrapping it should take to get up to the 190 degree range?  I'm kind of thinking that it'd be nice to delay wrapping if possible, but like I said earlier I really can't run late with this smoke...

    Thanks all!
  2. jbills5

    jbills5 Meat Mopper

    What kind of smoker are you using?  I use a WSM so I have the water pan in there.  It is really personal preference in regards to water or no water.  My friends have off set smokers and one puts a water pan in there to add the steam the other doesn't. If you use a water pan, I wouldn't seal it, just go ahead and use it like you do the ribs.  

    The stall runs on her own time.  Just be patient and it will get there.  Generally wrapping will help take it out of the stall faster than not wrapping. Genereal rule of thumb is just to go ahead and wrap up the pork when IT hits 160. 
  3. Thanks jbills5.  Unfortunately, I don't actually have a real smoker yet - I do my smoking on my Weber kettle grill (22.5") by starting out with very few coals and keeping the vents closed most of the way.  I have to keep adding coals (2 or 3 at a time) every hour or so to keep the temperature regulated throughout the day, but it works for me for now until I can get an actual smoker.
  4. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off, I would suggest the minion method to ya.... I've done this several times in my Weber Kettle ! Just put the coals off the one side & have an old baking tin on the other side with water in it ! The following is the way I do butts, just my personal preference !

    I smoke butts at 225-245*.... Ya want to do them low and slow ! Butts are full of connective tissue that's tough and not tender... However when smoked low & slow to around 200* IT, the connective tissues will melt down & that leaves some tender & tasty Q ! I usually rub mine down with a light coat of plain ole yellow mustard, EVOO or peanut oil... IMHO, helps create kind of a barrier if ya will, to help retain the moisture inside the meat... Then apply a good coating of rub... Then, off to the smoker.... I let it go for bout 3 or 4 hrs, then I'll put the temp probe in... This will make sure all the contaminants on the surface of the meat will not get pushed in with the probe... After 3-4 hrs the surface will be hot enough the contaminants will be no more ! Your IT will slowly climb, but usually around 160-170* IT (give or take a little IT wise) ya will hit what is called the stall... This is when the temp will hang for a couple hours sometimes with little increase in IT ! This is normal ! Some folks like myself just let it go and others will foil to push thru the stall... Up to you & IMHO, is a personal preference... Ya may have to try both ways to see which ya prefer... Reason I don't foil is I like the bark too much ! I usually start checking around 198* IT for the tenderness, when the bone is nice & loose like ya could just pull er out... She's done ! Pull from smoker, foil, wrap in a couple towels & rest in a cooler for a few hours... I just use my camping cooler... The rest will allow the juices of the meat to redistribute throughout making very tender Q ! After a few hours pull outta cooler pull and enjoy ! Ya can also search up top for a finishing sauce, there's a few out there that are pretty tasty ! Butts take patience & time ! Don't rush it, just enjoy a few cold ones and have fun Q'ing !
  5. jaynh77

    jaynh77 Newbie

    There are many options, but this is one way you could go about the smoke-

    1) Rub and wrap the meat the night before.. this reduces steps the following morning and lets the meat take in some nice flavor. Take the meat out of the fridge when you get up so it can warm up a tad.

    2) You could cut the butt in half if there is no bone. You would slightly reduce cooking time and end up with a little more bark. If there is a bone.. proceed if you are comfortable doing so.

    3) I don’t use a water pan on Boston butts.. if you wrap it at 160 degrees you could always boost up the temp a bit (275-300) to get it done earlier and give it plenty of time to rest. You can always pull and toss it into a croc-pot to keep warm.

    4) I usually get the temp up to 200 degrees.. i find it pulls easier after the rest.

    Tough to call when it will be done.. shoot to get it finished early and just keep it warm until dinner.
  6. jbills5

    jbills5 Meat Mopper

    I used to use my Weber Kettle as a smoker when I first started.  I would put a water pan in the smoker next to the burning charcoal.  I think adding water to your pan is fine if you are doing a pork butt.  I did a brisket this way and it turned out fine.
  7. Thanks!  I always use the method you described for my ribs with coals off to one side and the pan of water on the other.  Not only does it make a moist environment to help the ribs from drying out (or so I've read on the internet anyway), but I've found that it also helps to smooth out the peaks and valleys on the temperature a bit.  I just wasn't sure if having the moist/steamy environment would be bad for smoking a shoulder for some reason... I figured the worst that might happen would be that I might not get as nice of a bark..
  8. That's exactly my plan - I'm going to rub it down and wrap it tonight so that tomorrow all I have to do is pull it out of the fridge before I start my coals, and by the time the coals are lit and my temp has steadied the butt should've had enough time to sit out and come up to temp.  It is on the bone though, so I cannot cut it in half.  And I figure if I wrap it, I should be able to get it done plenty early, so here's to hoping!
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm also going to smoke a turkey breast on the bone for my MIL who doesn't eat pork, so I'm guessing that will take 3-4 hours...  The timing should work out pretty close for me to put the turkey on when I'm foiling the butt.
  9. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    IMO, at the end of the smoke, last few hours just let the pan go dry & that'll form a nice bark that your lookin for !
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Smoking in a Grill is fine and if you have experience making and maintaining heat in your Weber....Stick With What You Know! The day of a cook with guests coming is no time to experiment...The moisture from the Water will not hurt anything. Many people don't use water because the evaporation uses energy/fuel and when it comes to Butts the addition of moisture does not seem to make a big difference to the finished product. A valued member, Forluvofsmoke, uses a Wet to Dry Chamber technique, have water in the pan in the beginning of the smoke and no water later, that does seem to work well for achieving great smoke penetration, great Bark and juicy meat.

    Next, you don't say what temp you are proficient at maintaining and if that temp is what you will use, I would guess somewhere around 225°F. Looks like you are figuring 12 hours to get that ~7 pound Butt done. On average, that is cutting it close and since service time is critical, I would add at least 2 hours, more would be better, to CYA in case of the unforeseen or just a stubborn Butt. Additionally, you will want to have time to rest the meat. If you are done early, I hope, you can double wrap the Butt in Foil and Towels and stick it in a cooler, it will stay hot for up to 6 hours. Take a nap while you are at it.

    There is really no way I know of to tell how long a stall, wrapped or not, will last. As I indicated above, adding time to a cook is your best guarantee your meat will be ready to serve when the guests arrive. On average, and this will bite me in the ass for saying, the stall on that sized Butt should last about 2 hours. I recently read a post from a long time and experienced member about a trick he uses. When the Butt hits the stall he uses insulated gloves to " Massage " the meat for a minute or two. He said something to the effect that changing the path the meat is following will greatly reduce or stop the stall from continuing. I have not tried this and can't vouch for it's ability to shorten or eliminate the stall but this member is well respected for his abilities and I trust that he has proven, through repeatable results, that the massage technique works. First opportunity, I plan to try this and if you add the suggested hours to the cook, you may find massaging the meat will work for you. Try it and if you don't see results in 1 hour, foil the meat and proceed as planned, you will not have added a lot of time to the cook and I figure it can't hurt anything...JJ
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  11. Thanks Chef Jimmy.  I smoke my ribs in the range 225-250 so that is the temp I'm planning to use for my butt.  I get some fluctuation as the coals burn down, but I can usually keep it in that range pretty good (just for saying that I'm sure tomorrow will extra windy..haha).
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You have not indicated where you are from, please add your location to your Profile, it helps us help you faster. Here are a couple of recipes for Finishing Sauces, I highly recommend using, that will keep the meat moist, regardless of how it ends up after smoking, and add another layer of flavor. The first is sweet, favored by many folks in the North and a Tangy Finishing Sauce that is popular with most Southern people. Both can be served with a BBQ Sauce that has the opposite flavor profile of your choice. This will contrast and compliment the Finishing Sauces and cover all the tastes of your guests. Don't forget a bottle of Hot Sauce for the Chiliheads. These are popular around here and honestly taste so good that many don't add any additional BBQ Sauce...

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses


    2T Vinegar, 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more KC Style.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork:  Make a Double batch, Butter optional.

    If you plan to Foil the meat. Add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

    Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

    At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

    Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten and Serve...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

    When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Juice, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while  the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.

    Note: the addition of the reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider should make the PP moist but not Swimming.

    Tangy Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    This is more of an Eastern North Carolina style Finishing Sauce...

    2 C Apple Cider Vinegar

    2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste

    1/4C Brown Sugar

    1T Smoked Paprika

    2 tsp Granulated Garlic

    2 tsp Granulated Onion

    2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper

    1 tsp Celery Salt

    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Chipotle powder. Add more if you like Heat.

    1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

    Combine all and whisk well. Let rest, at room temp, a minimum of 30 minutes for the flavors to meld together. Or bring just to a simmer and remove from heat...JJ

    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  13. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    Start your butt now if you can. Yes it will take you into tonight but you don't have to worry about not being done in time. You can get plenty of sleep after its done and be fresh for your friends. Then all you have to do is reheat the pork which is just as good reheated as is fresh. Heat it in a crock pot with some apple juice or some of Chef Jimmy's finishing sauce and you're good to go. Cooking a butt on a time frame is a tricky proposition. Butts get done when they want to get done and no amount of cursing or begging will make it do any different. Just another option to keep in mind
  14. Thanks Chef Jimmy.  I'm actually just across the river from you!  I see that you're a professional - do you have a restaurant in the area or know of any places you'd recommend for good local BBQ?  

    Brooksy, unfortunately the earliest that I would be able to start cooking today would be around 4:00 this evening, which would have me smoking most of the night.  I think my best bet is going to be to get started bright and early tomorrow morning and maybe grab a bit of a nap with my temperature alarm set in the late morning.  If it is looking like it might not be done in time, I might just have to bump the temp up a little bit when I foil it to make sure it has time to rest.  I know this isn't ideal, but I think it is going to be about the best I can realistically do given my constraints...
  15. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    I smoke in my 22.5 Weber all the time . I use the snake method with the charcoal and it works like a charm. There are videos on Youtube showing how to set up the snake.
  16. One time when I was first starting to smoke I had my coals piled against the side of the grill and the metal heated up and my temps skyrocketed to the point that I had to pull the coals away from the side and actually spray the metal with water to get it to cool off.  Have you ever experienced this using the snake method?
  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I don't own a Restaurant anymore and have been an instructor most of my career. I have not tried any Q in the area but there are a couple with good reviews. Stick around and YOUR Q will be the best in the area, well next to mine...JJ[​IMG]

    Official BBQ and Burgers

    Mo Mo's BBQ and Grill

    Smoke BBQ is a place off Linglestown Rd in Lower Paxton but my two older Daughters, both trained Chef's say it was not very good. 

    There are a couple of Caterers in the West Shore area but I can't speak as to there quality.
  18. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    Try to keep your temp around the 250/275 mark to help speed things up a bit. The higher temp won't hurt anything.
  19. Thanks for the tip Brooksy...  My Weber is just about up to temp so the butt will be going on shortly.  Wish me luck!
  20. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


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