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Pork Butt - Issues, then redemption

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am smoking 2 - 5.5lb Boston butts overnight Friday night to make pulled pork and Brunswick stew for dinner after trick-or-treating on Saturday. My typical BB smoke is dry rub with my homemade rub and rest for 24 hours before smoking. I'm considering trying something different and doing a 24 hour brine, then dry rub, 24 hour rest and smoke. I've used this method on poultry and leaner cuts of pork with great success. Does anyone have any experience with brining a BB? Will I gain anything, or just waste my brine mixture?

Edited by Jay Porter - 10/31/15 at 4:49am
post #2 of 20
I have never seen the need to brine pork butt. The point of a brine is to introduce salt into the meat to aid in moisture retention. I don't have a moisture issue with butts so in my mind it is a lot of extra work for not much change in the finished product. It won't hurt anything so if you want to try it than go for it. Just make sure you cut back on the salt in your rub.
post #3 of 20

Does your rub have any salt in it?  If so it will make the meat too salty.  Also remember to wash your butt before rubbing it to help remove excess salt.

I both wet brine and dry brine my butts (not both!) and it seems to help.  My rub is salt free.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

I use a salt-free rub when brining. I may try one butt each, then compare. If there is a noticeable difference, I can use the best meat for PP and the other butt for stew. It is a lot of added work though...

post #5 of 20

A 24 hour Brine will penetrate a Butt 1/2" tops! Kind of pointless...Inject if you really want salt and flavor all the way through...JJ

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
JJ, I was also curious about the length of time in the brine. I've never injected a butt before. This may be the first.
post #7 of 20

The average Butt would have to be brined a Month to get good penetration. Injecting 1 inch apart and resting overnight will add whatever flavor you choose. I've not tried it but, this time of year, Apple Cider with some Rub of your choice should be good. The biggest issue with injection is, If the smoker temp goes below 225°, you risk the meat being in the Danger Zone too long and bacteria can multiply. Keep a close eye on temps...JJ

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

With these butts being 5.5 pounds each, I'm not worried about them lingering under 140 IT too long. That being said, I like to apply my rub and let the meat rest 24 hours. Can I safely/effectively inject the meat, then rub 24 hours before the smoke, or should I be prepared to inject and rub the meat immediately before putting it on the smoker?

Thanks for y'alls replies!

post #9 of 20

Finishing sauce.  Skip the brining and after pulling the meat add a bit of finishing sauce and toss it around.  I believe Chef Jimmy has a good one listed here somewhere.  Mine is equal part white and apple cider vinegars, my homemade rub, and red pepper flake.

post #10 of 20

After injection, the butts can sit in the refer up to 3 days before smoking, so no safety issues. I would inject and rub, rest overnight and smoke them...JJ

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info JJ. What usually happens to me has happened again. Between work, hunting (it's deer season in Georgia right now!), the kids (2 fall festivals and Halloween in 2 days), and not having all my ingredients ready, time got the better of me. Both butts are sitting in the fridge, rubbed, waiting on me to get home. I don't know if they'll get smoked tonight or tomorrow night as I'll be late getting home and early leaving both days...
I'm sure I'll wash off some rub if I do this, but can I inject some apple juice right before they go on the smoker? I like to smoke pork at 225, but may have to smoke these 250-275 to get them done in time, and I'm sure injecting would help keep them moist. 
Here's what I've got so far.
Trimmed boston butt on sale for $1.09/lb

Rubbed with mustard and my homemade dry rub

2 X 5.5lb Butts rubbed, wrapped and resting in the fridge
post #12 of 20

No need to wash off the Rub, inject right through it. The apple juice will be fine and being clear a rest to avoid streaking is less critical. The juice will destribute fine over the long smoke...JJ

post #13 of 20

Meathead swears by a dry brine for 24 hours.  I've tried both, and I think the salt does add moisture, but not very much.  Im going to foil my next butt to see if I can get it juicier.

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

My go-to for PP is a dry rub for 24 hours, followed by a naked smoke until IT is 200. This has always resulted in great bark, which i love.

I did foil the last butt i smoked, just to try something different. The result was a no bark, but a pan full of drippings that i used to make au jus. Oh my!!!

I haven't decided whether these will be wrapped or not, but I'm going to pick up some foil pans just in case...

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

Both butts got injected with apple juice and went on the smoker about 5 last night. I had the smoker at 250 w/ apple wood and was making TBS. I left the house to run errands and everything went to hell. 2 things happened between 5 and 9. The probe in the smoker decided to start reading about 50 degrees cool, which caused my wife to keep bumping the heat up, and at some point after 8, the outlet tripped and caused the smoker to lose power.:icon_eek: Soooo... After around 3 hours of smoke, they were wrapped and finished in the oven. I don't know how hot the smoker got, but I'm guessing it was over 300, but probably not for long. I was too tired to remember to get a picture last night, so I'll try to post some tonight before I pull it.  Very disappointing night. Fortunately, I was able to make au jus for the sandwiches and the rest of the meat is going into Brunswick stew, so I'm sure they'll turn out fine.

post #16 of 20

I think you'll be ok.  Maybe not as much smoke flavor/bark, but it will come out fine. 

post #17 of 20
Cooking at or over 300 degrees won't hurt a pork butt at all. I actually prefer them at that temp.
post #18 of 20

I think Aaron does his butts at 275F and foils.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

The only thing that has me nervous is that these were smaller/less fatty cuts. The end result should be fine with au jus on the sandwiches and the Brunswick stew literally stewing all day. Just not happy that I have to fix/replace my thermometer or probe and I have to figure out why that outlet tripped. I thought smoking meat was supposed to be fun and relaxing...

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
So after getting home and getting one of the butts out of the fridge to start Brunswick stew I've discovered that I shouldn't have been worried about the meat. It's moist, has good color and good smokey flavor, surprising since it only got 3-4 hours of smoke. The stew is made, and will go in the fridge tonight, then back in the crock pot to cook all day tomorrow. I'll throw the other butt whole into the small crock pot to reheat tomorrow.
Butt ready to be chipped for stew.

The "money muscle ", to be sliced for sandwiches.

Last weeks fresh venison and onions for stew.

Stew ready for Halloween
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