1 ... Fat side up or fat side down?
2 ... Smoke at what temperature.?
3 ... I am going to do my first pork butt for pulled pork this Friday Sept 2nd.
about 225 degrees should be good. No higher than 240. The lower the temp the more smoke penetration. I was always told fat side down. That way if anything sticks to the grates, all you are losing is fat and not the meat.
I used to smoke all my butts at 225, but lately I've been smoking them at 260-280.
They come out just as good & take a lot less time to cook.
A couple of weeks ago I smoked a 10# butt in 11 hours in my Lang running around 275.
I do fat side down.
Pork Butt weighed 12lbs 12 oz. After smoking, the finished meat after being pulled weighed 5 lbs 8 oz.... Is that normal for it to lose that much weight in smoking and bone removal?
Smoker controller was set at 270*, so the meat was smoked at 255* as the actual shelf temperature is 15* less than the controller reads. It took 14 hrs to smoke the 12 lb 12 oz butt. At 13 hrs the meat temp was 201*. An hr later at 14 hrs, it was still 201*, so I pulled it and let it sit for another 30 minutes before pulling it. The bone slid out easily and the meat was moist. I did cut off almost all of the fat on the bottom of the butt before applying rub and putting it in the smoker.
I used Mike Mills rub and jj's finishing sauce. I wasn't impressed with either, especially the finishing sauce. On the rub, it's taste only went skin deep. As for jj's finishing sauce, I didn't like it at all the evening I put it on after pulling the pork, but the next day it tasted better atlhough I am not sure I will use it again as I think their has to be a better finishing sauce. Too vinegary for my taste.
The evening it was done and finishing sauce applied, after tasting it, I said I probably won't do another one again. However, since it was better the next day, I will try it again as soon as I can find a different rub and finishing sauce.
Also the next time I do one and get it pulled and the smoker has cooled some, I am going to but it back into a foil pan and put it back in the smoker and smoke it with smoker turned off for approx 30 min to an hr, then taste it and go from there and see if it needs more\ smoke.
Hey Kurt, that is a good formula to remember, so I have made note of it as my memory isn't what it once was ...
I used to smoke anywhere from 225-250° (you know how the controller is on the MES) but since I bought a new controller from Masterbuilt the heat is more or less stable, +/- 10 degrees, if that's still considered stable. As you know the temp variance is greatest during the heating cycles and then it calms down. Today while smoking a brisket I'm trying for 225° and it's more or less staying there. Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe prefers smoking at 235°. From my research it appears that smoking a pork butt, beef brisket, or a chucky fat side up or down is merely personal preference. I don't know if keeping the fat side down does serve to act as a rack lubricant and I've read that if you smoke it fat side up, the rendering fat does nothing to keep the meat moist and tender because it can't penetrate deep enough. So, I guess it's a case of pick 'em. Or maybe buy two 3 lb. pork butts and cook one fat side up on one rack and fat side down on the other.
Temp: 225 - 240.
Smoke: I use the AMNPS for smoke which really helps for something like a butt that takes something just north of forever to cook.
Fat cap: Fat side down. My reasoning? I spritz with apple juice & rum a few times during the smoke, and since I'm going to remove whatever is left of the fat cap, some of that flavor would get cut away just prior to the pull if the fat cap was up. I don't think the "self-basting" from the fat cap really does anything, although it is certainly a cooking technique that you'll find in a lot of cookbooks ("larding the turkey" is in all the old cookbooks).
Water: I'm still not sure about water in the pan with my MES 30. Almost everyone in this forum says not to use it, and I've done it both ways. It sure is a lot less messy without water in the pan, because the MES retains a lot of that moisture from the pan and drips it down the door and onto the floor. However, this decision depends a lot on the type and model of smoker you own. There is so much moisture in a big butt and the MES is so small and tight that no matter what decision you make for other food, smoking without water in the pan is probably the right decision for a butt in an MES.