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Area for Improvement on my boston butt smoke

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Saturday I smoked a 5# butt and it turned out ok, I don't think I used enough smoke cause there really wasn't much smoke flavor in the meat. I went through a 10# bag of Royal Oak lump charcoal (which seams a little ridiculous) and about half of an 8.4# bag of Hickory. I don't know if the hickory was just not strong enough or I didn't use enough.

I was battling temps all day. It hovered around 220 or so which I thought was pretty good but I think I let the charcoal burn out too much before I would put more on becuase I was putting cold coal on and it would dip to about 100 or so before the new stuff would light up and get back up to 220 or 250. I had my wood soaking all day so the latter parts the wood was wetter but the earlier it was probably pretty dry cause again I forgot to soak it the night before. After about 7 hours it was only at like 135* so I wrapped it in foil and let it smoke more. After about another hour it was at 150 and I let it sit about another 1/2 hour with foil until I took it off at about 160*. I then let it sit inside for another half hour or so before I unwrapped and cut into slices.

It didn't fall apart at all, I wasn't really suprised at this, but there was a pretty good smoke ring despite the lack of smoke flavor. Shredding wasn't impossible but I had to really get in there to get it shred up. It was pretty tender overall, but the smokeyness just wasn't there. Friends enjoyed it, so I guess that was good.

Looking for anything that will help me improve my game, this is my second smoke and I'm amazingly suprised again that it ended up edible.

post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
Oh, I put some brats on for about an hour. I have an offset smoker and I put a pie pan of water just after the opening of on the smoker side and the pork on the far side of the smoker just under the chimney. My brats where about in the middle and there was a considerable amount of ash on them. I don't know if this was because of something I did or just the wind (20-30mph winds) that blew into the vents blowing the ash onto them or what. I just blew it off and noone was the wiser. hehe
post #3 of 16
I don't have that brand smoker so I might not be the best at questions relating to it....however, I don't soak my wood, just throw it on the coals. That may have something to do with your temps not getting up there...someone else might have more to say on this. I've always used the minion method for my fire....and have never had a problem with my temps dipping that low...might want to try lighting them first before you put them in the firebox and see if that helps. I would think that if you had that much wind blowing through your firebox your temps would have been higher. I don't think I've ever gone through that much smoke wood for a cook. My opinion is I only smoke for about 3-4 hours then it's over for adding wood smoke. Never had a complaint with my meat not having a smoke flavor. Do you take your meat right from the fridge or let it set out before going to the cooker? I like to prep first and let sit overnight then when the fire is right through it right on. There more than one answer to some of your questions....others will be along soon and assist.
post #4 of 16
Hey Gabe glad your guests enjoyed everything. A few things to consider: First off get yourself a charcoal chimney, and light off a new batch everytime you add coals. I usually light mine up about 15 or 20 min prior to the need to add more to the smoker. This will help keep your temps steady throughout the smoke.

7 hours for a 5 Lb butt really isnt that long. I would have expected it to go at least 12 hrs or so before reaching an internal temp or 200 which is optimal for pulling. At 200 internal, all you have to do is look at it and it falls apart. If time or daylight is a factor, foil the butt and finish it in the oven at 250 degrees until you get your desired internal temp. Patience is the key, and so is preplanning if you are going to eat the meat at a certain time.

Lastly 10 Lbs of lump is not at all uncommon for a butt smoke. I use at least 10 Lbs when I am doing larger cuts of meat for extended periods of time.

You are on the right track and as you see, even the smokes that dont quite go as planned still end up being quite tasty. Lets get the basics down first then we can worry about added smoke flavor. Once you master fire control, the smoke flavor you are looking for will come quickly thereafter. Hope this helps. Hang in there, keep asking questions and you will get the hang of it in no time at all. PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, I just did too much drinking the night before to get up early and start smoking. I didn't get it on the fire until about 10:30am and took iti off at about 5pm. When the weather starts getting nicer I'll be able to get up at 6 or 7am to start the smoke so it will be possible to smoke for 10-12 hours. I know this is far off, but I'd like to get to a point where I can smoke overnight but I don't see how people do that cause my fire ran out after like 45min - 1hr and I don't want to get up every hour to add more charcoal.

Some other notes, I have two vents on my firebox, one that is above the midline and one below the midline. I ususally kept the lower one all the way open and the top one closed or just like a 1/4 open cause my fire was sitting on a grate about 2" from the bottom of the firebox I figured it would be better to blow on the coal instead of above them.

As for my meat, I thawed it in the fridge a day in advance and then rubbed it with mustard and a pork rub and let sit for another day in the fridge, so it was completely thawed out. I then let it sit on the counter for maybe an hour or two before putting it on the fire.

Also, what about my wood choice, should I have used something else? Maybe a mesquite or cherry wood? A guy I used to know always used cherry flavoring in his hams but don't remember if he ever actually used cherry wood.

Thanks for all the tips guys!
post #6 of 16
yup Joe steering you in the right direction-as far as your wood that sure seems like alot to use on 1 smoke-I use chips-somtimes soak somtimes not.I don't have a smoker like yours but my ECB's tend to not need alot-and ya that was a short time for a cut that size-most of us drink while we smoke,but we do have our priorities.good luck on the next one.
post #7 of 16
Gabe........what you mite of done..........wrap in foil.........put into a 250 degree oven, till internals hit 200...........then you would of had fall apart butt.........just make sure you give it a good spraying down of summin........applejuice/capt. morgans is one idea............then wrap........put in oven...........till you get the internals you want.......yum dude.............i have fought temps this spring myself........no harm/shame in finishing up in the oven
post #8 of 16
You got some great advice on the coals. The reason your temp dropped it because you were adding unlit coals. Light them up in a charcoal chimney as suggested, before you need them.

"don't see how people do that cause my fire ran out after like 45min - 1hr and I don't want to get up every hour to add more charcoal."

Well if you don't want to be up most of the night then an all night smoke isn't for you. There is a lot to be said for it though, a nice quiet starred filled night, accompanied by your favorite adult beverage and the aroma of the thin blue smoke rising from the smoker. It's really a right of passage.
post #9 of 16
what ron said..............and get a ET-73 maverick redi-check thermo........its remote..........with high and low alarms.........you can get SOME sleep.......if you can wake with a alarm......now i am not saying you can get 4-5 hours sleep........but some...........i usually stay up till the peice of meat, be it butt or brisket, hits my target temp to wrap.......round 4-5 am on a brisket..........then foil.........put in a low setting oven............and hit the hay........momma should be up by then.......then she can pull in outta the oven..........wrap in towels, and put in cooler..........least thats how it werks round here
post #10 of 16
Yes it is my friend, yes it surely is!

My guess is you never were getting to 225-250 in your smoker, or at least not very long at a time. It shouldn't take 7 hrs to get to 135 internal. Maybe 4-5 at most for a 5 lber. I'm thinkin your therm is off, or not at grate level. Get a cheap ole oven therm to leave on the grate with the meat, or spend 20-35 bucks for a good digital remote thermometer.

I would take a butt to at least 170-180 to slice it. A loin can do well at 160-165, but I think the connective tissues in the butt are gonna make them slices real chewy. 160 is too close to the plateau. Just wait it out and when it starts to rise again, foil it and take it to 170-180. Just my .02 worth.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, I'll remember all this when I smoke again. And for that remote alarm thermometer, is that for the meat or the smoker?
post #12 of 16
What Walking Dude said...
post #13 of 16
Just wanted to back up everything said here already.

The first time i done a boston butt it took 9 hours, i used about 1 and 2/3 bags of lump and maybe 1/4 bag or less of hickory from wally world.

With all the advice you've gotten here i'm sure the next smoke will be a better experience. It's all part of the learning curve, at least you get to eat your experiments biggrin.gif
post #14 of 16
The horizontal offset smoker requires some babysitting. If you are looking for something that you don't have to tend the fire as much, consider a Weber Smoky Mountain. It will be a bit more efficient than your current smoker. Or if you can swing the cash, look at a ceramic cooker. That was the biggest reason I got a BGE. They can go 20+ hours without having to add lump.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well the main cavity is big enough that I could just put the fire under the meat, but I always thought that was bad because it would cook the meat too fast. What if I put the fire off to the left side of my smoke box (near the hole to the firebox) and put the meat on the right side.

And 20 hours w/o adding more charcoal?!! That's amazing...
post #16 of 16
My offset I have to add charcoal too about every 60-90 minutes. I've modded it. I've got a basket, I've got my smokestack on the grate, only thing I need is a baffle, now. I can cook a lot in it but I just have to babysit it. Its fun to do but I won't be doing all nighters on it again now that I got a BGE.

WSM are supposed to be pretty efficient. They are a cheaper than ceramic cookers and might be something to look for if your goal is to do an all nighter with as little tending the fire as necessary.
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