So, what's the deal with "foiling"?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by osbornj2, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. Hello Gals and Guys - getting ready to smoke my (essentially) first pork butt tomorrow, and I am a little confused as to whether I should be using aluminum foil and/or a foil pan; and if so, at what stage in the process.

    I am using a MES, and planning on starting it up about 6am in the morning (having the guys over for dinner while my wife and daughter are on a girls' trip this weekend!!).

    Any insight will be greatly appreciated! Thanks...

  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Foiling is a personal preference based on what finished product you are looking for. I prefer my pork butts to be falling apart tender and don't care too much about them having any bark. So to achieve this I wrap the butt in foil when it reaches 160 degrees. This allows it to cook in its own juices keeping it moist and helps speed the process up. My FIL likes to slice his butts so he does not foil so the meat ends up being firm enough to slice.

    I have never used a foil pan for a butt. They are easy enough to wrap in a few layers of foil.

    You will get a wide range of answers but that is my two cents. If you are unsure you could always cook two at the same time and only foil one.
  3. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Some do, many don't....opinions vary widely on foiling and many other things on here so it's all personal preference. Some want fall apart meat, so foil with some juice or booze near the end of the cook. Some want crispy bark which you don't get when foiling, so the butt is just left alone. That being said, I'm a no foil guy until the butt is done at 200-205 IT and I remove it, foil it, rest it for an hour or so before shredding it. The foil pan I use is placed under the pork to catch drippings which I add back into the meat after shredding. It also helps keep the smoker bottom cleaner...I'm basically lazy, so less cleanup I like. When you have the time or want to play, try doing 2 butts at the same time....foil one and leave the other alone. Decide at the table which you prefer and that becomes 'your way' of doing it. I always allow 2 hours per pound for a bone in butt...if done early it can be held warm & toasty. Nothing worse than having buddies around your elbow wanting to eat and you're not near ready with underdone pork trying to force it to temp.....Have fun, don't stress...allow yourself time to enjoy the smoke.....Willie
  4. beefy bill

    beefy bill Meat Mopper

    I wrap mine at 160 and all the juice stays in the foil. I used a tray once but noticed not much juice came out before 160. It's drowning in its own juices at the end. I pour that in a bowl and put in the fridge while the butt rests. When I pull the pork, I peel the fat off the top of the juice and stir in the awesome juice that's under the fat...delicious! And foiling helps the meat power through the stall period..
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No fool guy here too. I also run smoke the whole time I am smoking. I run my smoker a bit hotter than others do. Typically between 265-285. Kind of depends on where the smoker settles in at. No water pan or spritzing. I like bark so that's the way I do it.
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use an MES30 and a 40, heres what I see basically in foiling. It doesn't do squat for tender, moist, or flavor profile you can not do without it. The foil, or Texas Crutch is a way to beat the stall time and shorten the cooking time by a couple a hours. Thats it.

    Yes it does affect the bark, but a I am not a crunchy bark type guy anyway, Store bought teeth.

    I like the old ways on a butt. I don't inject, I don't use water, I don't spritz or spray. Those are all things required of a firebreather due to the dry hot cooking chamber.

    An electric keeps the water in if you'll leave the door closed. Thats a whole 'nother discussion.

    Basically the foil shortens the cooking time. I don't see where the difference between a 18 or a 20 hours smoke is that important, and I don't have to screw with foiling. I usually plant for a big butt to take 24 hours, its easy for my mind to remember. Low & slow, is just how I see a butt, sure you can work at it and get it done faster, but why?

    Just my opinions.
  7. superdave

    superdave Smoking Fanatic

    Osborn, how big is your pork butt? I foil my pork butts to retain the au jus, more tender, juicy meat and finishes quicker.  If you have any hope of eating your pork butt the same day, you will likely have to foil.  I put the pork in a foil serving pan with some liquid like coke or apple juice and cover with foil.  At that point, you can significantly raise the heat to between 250 - 275 with no ill effect.
  8. superdave

    superdave Smoking Fanatic

    I've never had a foiled butt take longer than 9 - 10 hours.  It isn't an 18 vs. 20 hour issue.  Folks can manage the smoke time or let the smoke time manage them.  Just my opinion. 
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And I have had 13 hour non- foiled butts, but its not normal.  Butts are like women everytime you think you have them figured out, they'll change just to keep you hopping. I quite often have 18 to 24 hour butts. I like 'em the old ways, low and slow.

    I think there is always more than one way to achieve an end. I am lazy and just let the smoker do the work.
  10. superdave

    superdave Smoking Fanatic

    I keep telling myself that one day I'm going to try the lazy way.  But it's like me picking a fishing lure, I always pick the one I have confidence in.  ;-)
  11. I am a no foil guy and I figure it will be done and ready to eat about the same time the next day.

    Happy smoken.

  12. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    That's it entirely and in my opinion it's not even the best way to beat the "stall".

    The best way to beat the stall is to cook at high heat, in your case as high as your MES will go.
  13. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Low and slow and no foil until the end. That said I sometimes foil and sometimes not. I like to mix it up.
  14. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    I always foil mine at 165.  It is, a personal issue for sure.  I find it does shorten cooking time and the family and I are not big on crunchy bark.

  15. See  Lots of Opinions !!!

  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Exactly---Must be a Bear Thing!!

    Bears like Bark, but not if it's like Tree Bark.

    Tree Bark is for climbing!!

    Here's a good one done in an MES 40:

    Step by Step----Easy to follow Example: Pulled Boston Pork Butt  

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  17. Man, this is really a lot of great information! Guess a lot of this really does boil down to personal preference...and I am looking forward to diving in and figuring out my own way of doing it. That being said, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, and if I don't have to re-invent the wheel...I'll gladly stand on the shoulders of the ones that have come before me and give them all the credit they deserve :)

    So, unless this sounds blatantly like a bad idea (i.e. risk of illness, completely ruin the butt, etc) - of which I'm hoping that you'd advise me! - I'm thinking that I'll start it off first thing by putting it on the grate without foil, with perhaps a pan underneath to catch the drippings (1: to use later one, & 2: cause I'm a little on the lazy side myself and if this helps in the clean-up department, then I'm all in!).

    Then, when the IT hits about 160, I'll wrap it (tightly or loosely?) in a layer of aluminum foil and let it continue to cook until ???

    Quick question: when you wrap it in foil, should you poke any holes in the foil to allow smoke to get to the meat? Or will the smoke find it's way in no matter what? Or, has the butt already absorbed the smoke from the several hours it has already been in there uncovered? 

    Appreciate all the tips, and I will be sure to follow-up with pics and an analysis :)
  18. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    No foil! Smoke the whole time! Just let the meat take as long as its going to take and the rewards will be great. Make sure you take plenty of pics to make our mouths water.
  19. I usually foil mine after about 6-7 hours unwrapped 

  20. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

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