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Help - what am I doing wrong with this smoked pork?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is the second time I've tried smoking pork butts for pulled pork. The first time took forever but today, well, this is nuts isn't it? I am stuck at 171 on a simple 2 lb pork butt, and it's been over 9 hours. I had my first slightly larger one come off ver an hour ago, having reached 195 IT. I did a larger 3.5 lb butt for a neighbour which has also come off, but even then, those came off after ver 8 hrs, when I understand it should generally take about 1.5 hours per pound. I've also tried two different probes and they read roughly the same, so I don't believe the fault lies with the probes.

Temp has been pretty variable, but between 225 - 250 all day. Can anyone advise what I may be missing? It's making me nuts - and hungry with the wait!
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post

This is the second time I've tried smoking pork butts for pulled pork. The first time took forever but today, well, this is nuts isn't it? I am stuck at 171 on a simple 2 lb pork butt, and it's been over 9 hours. I had my first slightly larger one come off ver an hour ago, having reached 195 IT. I did a larger 3.5 lb butt for a neighbour which has also come off, but even then, those came off after ver 8 hrs, when I understand it should generally take about 1.5 hours per pound. I've also tried two different probes and they read roughly the same, so I don't believe the fault lies with the probes.

Temp has been pretty variable, but between 225 - 250 all day. Can anyone advise what I may be missing? It's making me nuts - and hungry with the wait!

Is it bone in ? My only thought is maybe probe is touching the bone... false reading ?? th_dunno-1[1].gif
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
No, it's not bone in. These are pretty small butts. I think it must have to do with the cut or the way it's wrapped. These weren't tied up perhaps as tight as they should have been, or the cut of pork is not what I thought it was. As this is the second time, though, that a couple of butts have taken a lot longer than I believed they should, I must be getting the wrong cut or not being careful with the probes. I can't figure it out otherwise.
post #4 of 15
Yeah, seemed a little small to me.... When I do a butt, I think the smallest I've done was 6 lbs. how do ya prep them ?? What cut are ya getting ? Should be one solid chunk or roast...
post #5 of 15

I see where you say that you're sure that the probes are reading correctly, but what about the temp gauge ?

 

Also, what smoker do you have ?   Perhaps there's a serious cold spot in it ?

 

There has to be something going on as I'm sure there's no way a 2 lb piece of meat could sit in a 225+ degree chamber for over 9 hours and still only be up to 171.

post #6 of 15

Strange stuff happen in this biz. You take 10 hours to smoke 2 pounds and the next guy gets a 10 pounder done in 5 hours...Both smoked, allegedly at 225°!

 

At this point go by Probe Tenderness. If the meat is so tender that a probe penetrates easily...It's Done regardless of internal temp...JJ 

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
I rubbed them and left them refrigerated overnight, popped them in when the smoker hit 225. Both my new Maverick ET-733 and an older but so-far-reliable temp reader were reading the built in gauge on my smoker within a few degrees, which is a propane Masterbuilt Cookmaster, though I had some variation in temperature. Also, I kept the water pan topped up too.

I'm going to have to chalk this one up as another of the Great Mysteries, like why matched socks going into the dryer sometimes aren't seen ever again.biggrin.gif

Thanks for the feedback though, much appreciated.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post

I rubbed them and left them refrigerated overnight, popped them in when the smoker hit 225. Both my new Maverick ET-733 and an older but so-far-reliable temp reader were reading the built in gauge on my smoker within a few degrees, which is a propane Masterbuilt Cookmaster, though I had some variation in temperature. Also, I kept the water pan topped up too.

I'm going to have to chalk this one up as another of the Great Mysteries, like why matched socks going into the dryer sometimes aren't seen ever again.biggrin.gif

Thanks for the feedback though, much appreciated.

 

You mention that you kept the water pan topped up.   Just to check, were you cooking at multiple levels ?  Were your chamber temp readings taken at the same place that the 2 pounder was sitting ?  Did you by chance have the 2 pounder sitting on a shelf just above the water pan ? 

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes9 View Post
 

 

You mention that you kept the water pan topped up.   Just to check, were you cooking at multiple levels ?  Were your chamber temp readings taken at the same place that the 2 pounder was sitting ?  Did you by chance have the 2 pounder sitting on a shelf just above the water pan ? 

 

 

Good thinking! This could make a difference...JJ

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post
 

 

 

Good thinking! This could make a difference...JJ

 

 

Yeah, I'm thinking that the water pan absorbed the direct heat and acted like a baffle, essentially creating a cooler pocket immediately above it.   Hot air still would have flowed through the rest of the chamber causing the therms/probes to read 225 / 250 at other spots.   I could certainly see where a 2lb piece of pork would only get to 171 degrees in 9 hours if it was being cooked at 180-190ish.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
I had the temp probe in a clip, suspended from the underside of the top rack, on which the butt in question was located. The other half of the rack held the second little butt, and the bottom rack with the 3.5 lb butt on the bottom rack above the water pan.

Now that I think about it, though, the tip of the probe might have been positionsed within an inch or inch and a half from the bottom of the butt. Could it have been picking up heat off the butt and so giving false readings, meaning the chamber temp was not anywhere near 225 but a lot lower?
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post

I had the temp probe in a clip, suspended from the underside of the top rack, on which the butt in question was located. The other half of the rack held the second little butt, and the bottom rack with the 3.5 lb butt on the bottom rack above the water pan.

Now that I think about it, though, the tip of the probe might have been positionsed within an inch or inch and a half from the bottom of the butt. Could it have been picking up heat off the butt and so giving false readings, meaning the chamber temp was not anywhere near 225 but a lot lower?

 

 

Hmmm, this is getting more mysterious as it goes.   Usually, if your probe is too close to the meat, the reading will be "off" but it will be cooler than what the actual chamber temp is.   Basically, there's like a little cool air bubble around the meat.

 

About the only thing I left that I can think of is a faulty probe or the unit the probes plug into, but that's a reach.  Just in case, can you give more info about the probes used ?

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sorry to be so delayed getting back to you - the probes were on a brand new Maverick ET 733, being used for the second time, and also a single probe unit which I had used several times before with success. There is no info on the unit to tell me who makes it, but it seems like middle of the road quality. I think they are okay, as a switch between them returned consistent temp results from the butt.

I have a son returning very soon from a three month trip to Southeast Asia where he's eaten some pretty strange things and he's been dreaming about pulled pork, so I'm going to have to give this another whirl soon. When I do, I'll take some careful notes so if it gets weird again, I can be more accurate troubleshooting.

Thanks for the help!
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post
 

Strange stuff happen in this biz. You take 10 hours to smoke 2 pounds and the next guy gets a 10 pounder done in 5 hours...Both smoked, allegedly at 225°!

 

At this point go by Probe Tenderness. If the meat is so tender that a probe penetrates easily...It's Done regardless of internal temp...JJ 

Probe tenderness is the way to go, use the temp as a guideline as to when to start checking.  My very first pork but was very similar, it sat at about 175 all night and was dry when I finally pulled it.  I had one later that was doing the same thing so I probed it about every hour, both to check the temp and the feel.  At just over 180 the probe slid right in with very little resistance.  I pulled it and wrapped it to rest, when it got down to 150 I opened it and pulled it.  Great juicy pork!  I've also had to wait until 210 on occasion to get the probe to slide in like that, but now I do feel versus temp.  I'm no master by any means, but each cook seems to get a little better with patience, experience and gleaning all the advice here.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post

Sorry to be so delayed getting back to you - the probes were on a brand new Maverick ET 733, being used for the second time, and also a single probe unit which I had used several times before with success. There is no info on the unit to tell me who makes it, but it seems like middle of the road quality. I think they are okay, as a switch between them returned consistent temp results from the butt.

I have a son returning very soon from a three month trip to Southeast Asia where he's eaten some pretty strange things and he's been dreaming about pulled pork, so I'm going to have to give this another whirl soon. When I do, I'll take some careful notes so if it gets weird again, I can be more accurate troubleshooting.

Thanks for the help!

 

 

This one has me truly stumped Baldrick and I hate when that happens :biggrin:   I still firmly believe that absent some other cause, there's no way a 2lb butt could sit in a 225 - 250 degree environment for over 9 hours and only reach 171 degrees.    There's definitely some anomaly at play here.   Hopefully it doesn't resurface on any of your future smokes.

 

Good luck and am looking forward to hearing about your next one.

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