I’m bumping this thread rather than starting a new one because while Storeman received instruction/direction from Dave, the overarching question was not really addressed.
I have this same question but will probably follow my own instinct.
-It depends on where you are going to allow the butt to rest overnight and what the temps are in that space. A cold garage at about 50° would probably be fine if taking the butt out at say 11PM and starting a smoke at maybe 8AM. I use my garage in winter for “strategic” food handling all the time.
-Also, I do not buy in to the fear of counter top thawing of frozen meat. As long as you catch the thaw before the meat gets warm and starts turning color it is fine. People are way too freaked out about food storage. Some people even throw milk out if the best by date has passed without even smelling it. BUT…this is NOT a thawing question.
Now, cross contamination IS a threat. I am very careful when handling the raw meat. It’s not the meat in your smoker that’s going to make you sick, it’s the junk from the meat you unwittingly spread with your hands and by drip and splash. You should NEVER wash a chicken for instance…some people still do this and even I did years ago. The washing splatters tiny droplets of contamination all over the place that you don’t see. I saw a black light test on washing birds as well as just handling meat. You would be amazed at what you unknowingly spread around.
You should treat the area you prepped your meat like a surgical room, wash your hands between every touch of the meat before you handle anything else other than your "dirty" implements like cutting board, knife, etc. and clean and disinfect your counter, sink and any nearby surfaces before preparing any other foods in the space.
However on thawing, I just last night thawed a butt and a chuck roast on a towel on a table in my garage overnight. Garage was at around 60°. At 9 AM this morning they were perfectly thawed yet still cool to the touch. So I was able to get a rub on them and back in the fridge for a smoke tomorrow morning.
-Food safety: The new FDA guidelines for pork has been dropped to 145 with a three minute resting time, same as red meats. Poultry is still 165° and ground meat other than poultry is 160°. Although for my hamburgers, I like a bit of pink or “medium” on my burgers. Here’s the catch; I grind all my burger meat myself from whole muscle chuck roast. That chuck roast is safe at 145…so my burgers are too. Meat ground by someone else could be cross contaminated…you don’t know, so safe bet is 160 for purchased ground meat.
So, when we are cooking, in my case tomorrow a pork butt and a beef chuck roast, we are heading to the 200° range…WELL above safe temp, so even if your meat got to 85° before starting…it’s no big deal. You will know when meat has begun to spoil and it aint that gray color…your nose tells you.
-Overnight “come to temperature”: Here’s how I see it. It gets back to what the temp is in the space your meat will reside. My garage is running around 70° right now/today, if I sit the meat out at 10PM there’s a good chance it will be 70° long before I want to get up in the morning. If it were still winter I would not hesitate to leave them out all night.
What I plan to do is use a “reverse faux cambro” concept and put the meat in a cooler, but with no towels. This will slow down the “warming up” but still allow some chill to get out of the meat without me having to get up a 3AM to pull them out to rest.
This will give me just slightly “cool” meat in the morning, a faster "come to temp" in the smoker and avoid the sweating or condensation issue…which I don’t really think is an issue.
I am not arguing against Dave who appears to be a well-seasoned smoker chef. I am just giving my opinion and the logic behind it.
Dave mentions that he believes that smoke and water make acid rain. An interesting point, but my Masterbuilt has a water pan for the specific intention of raising the moisture in the box as well as a drippings shield, but if all was needed was a drip shield why would it be a pan because there is a grease pan out the back for that...and page three of the user manual states “Close air damper on top of unit to retain moisture and heat. If cooking foods such as fish or jerky, open air damper to release moisture."
All but the excerpt from the user manual is my humble opinion…your mileage may vary.