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Pulled pork with time constraints-best way?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I work as a firefighter and bring in my smoker on weekends. I can usually get the butt in by 8:30 and we try to eat by 6. In my experience, this is not long enough to get a 5-6# butt up to 205* when the smoker is at 220*, so in the past I've ended up pulling and foiling it at 3 p.m, finishing in the oven.

Should I up the temp to 250* for the entire smoke or just keep doing what I'm doing. Or should I be doing something different to get (3) 5-6# butts done in 9 hrs?

Thx as always,

post #2 of 10
Taking the smoker up to the 240-250° range will not hurt a butt, as there is lots of fat. I usually do mine in that temp range.

Hope this helps!

Take care, have fun, and do good!


post #3 of 10
250* won't hurt a long smoke, especially when you might be wrapping at some point.
post #4 of 10

First of all thank you for choosing such an honorable profession. As dangerous as my own work can be yours requires a totally selfless commitment.

As for the butts, hmmnnn!

If butts were predictable and there was a surefire answer I'd like to see it all in print!

Truely good quality Q depends on time, not timing. It is done when the thermometer says not when the timer says.

With all that said, why not prepare your butts at home and take in to warm up? That will take the pressure off the timing and you can be assured of an excellent result.

I also have a question. What happens to the smoker when you get toned out? Is there anyone who can watch it for you?

Bottom line is that butts can be very unpredictable. Out of three butts no two will be ready at the same time. And then, of course, there are those nasty plateaus.

Just my two cents.

Thanks for being here with us and wishing you all the best!

post #5 of 10
In the past I've cut the pork butt in half. Then I'm smoking a couple of 2 to 4 pound butts. The smoking time is cut in half that way. If you only have one temp probe then I'd put it into the larger half. Seems to work for me.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I can't do the pork at home as I don't have an entire day to commit to this (kids, ball games etc).

When we get toned out, there is sometimes a unit left in the station depending on the type of call. My smoker is a gas GOSM, so the temp stays pretty constant. If we're out a long time, I may come back to no smoke, but can quickly add wood and get it smoking again. The majority of our calls last less than an hour. Unless we get a house fire...
post #7 of 10
I've done a couple of butts in my Weber kettle and I've found that it doesn't seem to hurt the final result to have the air temp up to 300 or above for the first part of the process. I suspect that it's more important that once the heat drops after about 4 hours of keeping it pretty high (and the butt is somewhere around 140 - 150) that the lower temps for the last half is what really brings the results, and the higher initial temperature seems to reduce the time by at least a couple of hours with no real ill effect. I'm guessing that part of it is that you're cooking mostly uncooked meat at the higher temp for much of that time which means that you get to the "low and slow stage" quicker than if you go low and slow the whole time. That higher temp doesn't really seem to hurt because it's fighting all of the uncooked meat and the mass of the butt protects it a bit. It's not like a thin steak where you really have to be careful about how long you leave the steak over the intense heat. You have a lot more leeway.

I actually pulled my last 7 # butt at around 6 hours (it was at 170) and took off about a quarter of it and left the rest in a 250 degree oven for another hour. The first bit that I pulled off the butt naturally had less rendered fat but was pullable and tasty. At the 7-8 hour point, the rest was at about 190 and I decided that was enough for me, since I was going to reheat it later after freezing (and refrigerating). Therefore, it would get another bit of heating at a much smaller mass, which would pretty much finish the cooking process pretty quickly. The result was a very tender pull after reheating, so it worked pretty well.

I think I would have ended up with 200 - 205 had I left the butt in the oven for another hour. This would have put me at about 9 hours total.

I wouldn't be too afraid of going to 300 degrees for the first half of the cooking. Of course, I only have two butts of experience, but that's what I've found.

Also, I wouldn't worry about finishing it in the oven. Maybe it's 'cheating" but if you get the result you're looking for with a time savings (if you need it), nothing wrong with that. Doing the 10-12 hour thing is fun, but if it means that you don't smoke because it just takes too long, there's nothing noble in it.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I think from now on I'll have them cut in half. They've been in for 6 hours and are at 165*. I'll take them off, foil and finish in the oven.

Is there a super secret temperature I should set the over to?
post #9 of 10
see if the crock pot goes any faster.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Lo and behold, just as the meat was reaching 203*, we got a call. Semi jacknifed, ruptured saddle tank and fuel leaking. Shut down I-95 for 2 hours and offloaded the fuel.

I turned off the oven before we left and fortunately, had someone available to pull them out about 40 mins later. They turned out very good.

Thanks again for all the replies.
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