Help! smoking a Boston butt!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by christinan, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    Hi there! I know this is probably a common question! I have a Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited Edition. I want to smoke a pork butt, keeping it around 185-195 but I have no idea how to regulate the heat. The BTLE is a charcoal grill with an offset firebox. I just don't know the first thing about keeping temps with charcoal.

    Please help!
  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    First of all you want to up the cooking temp to at least 250°, 300° is better IMHO.

    If you are going to use charcoal, use lump charcoal, Royal Oak is readily available  and a good choice.

    I start with 2 fully lit chimneys of lump charcoal in the side fire box, when the temp in the cooking chamber reaches your desired temp, put the meat on.

    Regulate the temps by opening or closing the air intake on the fire box, leave the exhaust wide open.

    Be prepared to babysit the fire, this is not a "set and forget" pit.

    Do not try to cook at the temps you posted , they are far too low.
  3. Agree with Cliff -- your target temp is too low. You want to get to an internal temp of 195-200, which won't be possible if the cook temp is less than that. 250 is a good target, give or take 25 degrees. Don't know anything about your particular make of smoker, so can't be more specific than that.

    Suggest you look up the step-by-steps posted by Bearcarver in this forum which contains a wealth of information, including one on pork butt.
  4. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit


    Bearcarver's step-by-step is excellent and wonderfully detailed.

    You gotta crank up the heat a little higher

    Good luck!
  5. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    Thank you for the advice on the temp!! I have had it on for about 5 hours now at about 225 to 250! I'll take a couple of pictures soon too!
  6. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    Here it is at about 5 and a half hours in!! Sitting right around 250 right now :)
    rtbbq2 likes this.
  7. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    Looking good so far! Don't know what size butt that is looks to be a 6/8 pounder so at that temp your looking at about a 11/12 hour smoke I would guess. Keep us posted as you go along but don't peek to much. Remember if your looking you ain't cooking :)
  8. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    Thank you brooksy!! I didn't think about that and I've been peeking a lot!!
  9. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    9 hours in!
  10. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Looks to me like you're doing a nice job. Keep that temp up, pull it out at around 200, and don't forget that the rest is very important. Wrap it up in double foil with a little liquid, and let sit for about an hour. If you're looking for some good foiling or finishing sauce recipes check out Chef JJ's here on this forum.
    BTW..... welcome to the forum. Glad to have you aboard.
  11. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    So how did the butt turn out? You can't leave us hanging!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  12. christinan

    christinan Newbie

    Had some issues with it! I don't know if the Thermometer is off on the grill? I ended up bumping the temp up to between 300 and 350! I had to pull it off at 4:30 in the morning because I was exhausted! It only got up to 170 by that point :-( I had put it on at 10 in the morning.

    Any suggestions? For what it's worth it still tasted really good :) a bit dry though.
  13. ChristinaN,

    Sorry to hear about the trouble you ran into. First off let me say that I agree with what all the guys have said above.

    I will share a couple of things with you that you may want to consider on your next smoke of a Boston but or anything else. First off, don't rely on the accuracy of the temperature gauge on your smoker as they are often less than being terribly accurate. It would be well worth looking at making a small investment into a Maverick ET-733 Long Range Wireless Dual Probe BBQ Smoker Meat Thermometer that will cost about $69.95 + or -. You might want to Google maverick and take a look. They are often available on To cut to the chase, the maverick comes with two probes, one to put into what you are smoking and the other to place inside the smoker to see what the internal temperature is. This will help you with knowing what your smoker temperature is and it has settings which will alert you if the temperature gets to hot or drops below what you have set. The meat probe will monitor and will show you the temperature of what you are smoking.

    Now if you are going to smoke the Boston butt low and slow as I enjoy doing you want to maintain an internal temperature of the smoker somewhere between 225 and 250 and at that temperature it will take about 10 hours for a 8-9 lb. butt to reach an internal temperature of about 185 to 190 + or -  and you should be in good shape to take it off and let it rest for 30 minutes before you pull it.

    Here is how I smoke my Boston butts. I first season my butt and set it aside making sure of course that it is at room temperature or close to it. I start my smoker with charcoal and apple wood and get the temperature up to 300 degrees. I then add my cast iron tray filled with water on the bottom shelf of my smoker nearest the firebox to add additional moisture to the cooking process. I then put the butt in and let it smoke for 3 hours adding wood about every 45 minutes or so and making any adjustments to my pin wheel vents on the firebox to maintain my 225-250 temperature.

    After the 3 hours, I take the butt(s) off the smoker and place them into an aluminum pan ( cheap from grocery store) add a cup of apple juice and wrap the butt(s) in the pan with heavy aluminum foil and put them back into the smoker for the next 7-8 hours adding wood as needed ( could be charcoal if preferred) to maintain my temperature. At that point you will be done, take the pan out, let it rest for 30 minutes, uncover and "BAMB" you will see one very juicy butt(s) and ready to pull apart with a pair of claws or tongs and serve.

    I wish you very well on your next smoke and if I can be of any other help to you, please don't be shy and send me a post.

  14. ChristinaN,

    Sorry I forgot to mention something else you may be interested in. If you want to get some sleep and not go the "low and slow" route you can certainly do a Boston Butt in what's known as the "hot and fast" method of smoking. I have done both and can tell you that there is NO difference in the flavor of the pork or meat.

    If you want to try the hot and fast method, get your smoker up to 325 degrees, put the butt in and cook it for 3 hours adding wood about every 45 minutes. I prefer apple or cherry wood as the flavor is light and a little sweet. You may want to mix in a little hickory or oak with the apple/cherry for additional flavor. Take the butt(s) off after the three hours, place in a pan with a cup of apple juice and place heavy duty aluminum foil over the top, wrap tight and put the pan back into your smoker for another two hours. If you have a Maverick thermometer or use another type to check, the inside of the butt should be at about 195-200 degrees and you are done. Take the pan out, let it rest for 30 minutes, unwrap and you should be a very happy camper.

  15. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    Here is how I do a butt. We have different smokers but the process is basically the same across the board for all smokers. Take butt out cover with rub put back in fridge. Start coals in my chimney. When they are burning good dump in fire box load with 5/6 splits let her come up to temp between 250/300. Get meat out of fridge and put in smoker. Add a split or two possibly the depending on the size every hour. Most important part JUST LET IT COOK!! I do not open my smoker for the first 4 hours and when I do it is only to check the temp quickly then close her back up and LET IT COOK! No need to keep opening the lid. Its not going anywhere. No one stole it! There are no gremlins in there eating it. Just let the smoker do its thing. Just make sure you have smoke smell coming from your pit and you're good. After about 8 hours you can peek maybe check temp to see how it's coming along. Should be close enough to monitor about every half hour. When the bone wiggles freely it's ready to take off and let her rest. Take it inside put in a pan cover with foil rest for a bit then tear it to shreds. Oh and consume some while doing so!
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014

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