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more cooking time for more meat?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
So far I've cooked 1 butt for pulled pork. It cooked for 16 hours (200* for 12 hours, 225 for 4 more), and... it... was... Spectacular! The family requested an encore for Saturday, and since there will be more people I need more meat.

Which leads me to a couple noob questions.

-- Will putting 16 lbs in the smoker take longer due to the larger total quantity of meat? I'm putting in a triple recipe of Dutch's beans too, sounds like I gotta try 'em :)
-- I wanted to make two 8 pounders, but the stores only had 4 pounders, so I got 4 of them. Smaller butts will cook in less time, right? In other words, will the four 4 lb butts cook in less time than two 8 lbs butts?

I know "its done when its done," I'm just trying to do some planning - dont want dinner to be done at 9 and people with small kids had to be leaving at 8.

If I had to do it without advice I'd plan on 16 hours again, raise the temp sooner if they're cooking too slowly, and just keep them warm if they finish too soon. Sound reasonable? For a 5:30 dinner, what time would you put in the pig?
post #2 of 21

Personally, I'd crank up the smoker to 250-275
post #3 of 21
They will cook much faster two four lb butts DOESN'T equal one eight lb'er they will be done in about 1.5 hours per lb of meat so 1.5 x 4 = 6 hours give of take. You can bump the temp up to 225-250 with no problem too. Personally if I was doing 4 lb butts and wanted to eat at 5:30 I'd put them into a preheated smoker about 8 and let them rest in the cooler for awhile before pulling for dinner.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link to the cooking times, I hadnt seen that.

As far as cranking it up to 250+... I thought "lower and slower" was better? Thats an honest question - remember, I'm sort of new at this. :) Thats why I did my first one for 16 hours, and man, that was without a doubt the single most tender piece of meat I've ever seen in my 48 carnivorous years!
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thats what I suspected, thanks for the confirm.

Right - add time to rest, I'd probably have forgotten that.
post #6 of 21
Ya need to get your meat from 40* to 140* internal in 4 hrs (danger zone), plus I haven't seen any difference in tenderness with smoking butts at a little higher pit temp.
post #7 of 21
What grothe said...There is a point of diminishing returns on lowering the temp. For instance if you are doing a large piece of meat and have a smoker temp that is to low, the meat will not be through the danger zone quickly enough to be safe to eat. It will have effectively spoiled in the process. For butts, I shoot for a smoker temp of 225-250.

BBQ Eng.
post #8 of 21
For small butts personally I go with 225 the large ones I kick the heat up to 250 and try to get them up to 140 internal quicker.
post #9 of 21
I would do what you did last time with the smaller butts and be done early. They will stay hot for hours in a cooler with foil and towels.

post #10 of 21
Here's a link to the entire post.


And the thread has a lot of good info as well such as . . .

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
umm, ok. In hindsight that was a really stupid question. icon_redface.gif

The danger zone though, I guess I'd have to say I was blissfully ignorant. Good thing I have a cast iron stomach. Definitely learned something there, thanks. And the meat probe ... guess I'd better clean it, eh? Does wiping it on my jeans count? :)

Jeez - and I thought I did a lot of reading here over the last couple weeks specifically to avoid asking dumb questions.

Thanks, my meal Saturday will be better now.
post #12 of 21
Don't submerge the probes in water tho I usually use alcohol prep pads to clean mine
post #13 of 21
Yep, I agree , they work great.

The process of breaking down the connective tissue takes time and energy(btu's) a 4 lb butt will not cook in half the time an 8 lber will.

I would say about 75%-80% of the time though. They will also dry out a bit more.If I had to use 4lb butts, I would find a new butcher!PDT_Armataz_01_20.gif

Since you are already set on the meat, I would start the smoke at 7am, run it at 235-250, foil them lil doggies at 170-175(with added mopp) take to 200-205 and pile them in a cooler for an hr or 3.

Better to be done early, you can always pan the pulled meat, add the seperated juices and re heat.

Just my 2 cents
post #14 of 21
LOL, I want that post back, I just lost 3 green tiles over it .rolleyes.gif

just a quick visit I guess!PDT_Armataz_01_02.gif

On edit, I see everyone has the same tile count, hehehe even the newbie!
post #15 of 21
No such thing. Asking questions is how you learn. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

Trust me . . .you were not the only one. That thread was quite and eye-opener for me.

post #16 of 21
4 4#butts will cook in the same time as 1 4#butt. At least in my cooker.

Like Dan said... Dont count on a 4#er cookin in 1/2 the time as an 8#er.

Get it done early and reheat it if you need. Like you have read it will stay hot in the cooler for hours.

And as for low and slow....
Butts are very forgiving and can be cooked at a higher temp. (250 +)
Briskets , on the other hand, are not and need to stay lower and slower.

Smoke on...
post #17 of 21
I used to live & die by smoking my butts at 200-225*. Tried bumping the temps up to 240-260* & it shaved about 2-3 hours off the total smoke time. No difference in taste, just a heckuva lot quicker!!!
post #18 of 21
Goes for briskets and chucks too!wink.gif
post #19 of 21
That's the conventional wisdom. But it's not true if you take it literally. I've cooked quite a few very successful butts with initial temps of 325 - 350. This has been more out of necessity because I smoke on a Weber kettle and I don't like to have to stand there the whole time trying to regulate the temp down to 225 - 250, which is difficult at best. It's a waste of fuel and time, but only if you can get away with it. It doesn't do any good to save time and fuel if the end product isn't good. But I've done systematic investigation of this and have found that there's absolutely no risk in having temps well above 300 for the first 4 or 5 hours of cooking a butt. Of course, I always start with the butt right of the 'fridge.

The key is going lower and slower for the last part of the cooking. The great thing is that you can actually do this in the oven since most of the benefit of smoking is finished by hour 5. Believe it or not, you can actually take a butt that's sitting stuck at 160 -170 and put it in a 170 degree oven for 8 or 9 hours and the internal temp of the butt will creep up to 195 or better. This happened to me last week when I had to go to work before my 5 lb butt was finished (it was already at 8.5 hours but had only made it to 165). It was as tender as any other butt that I had ever done and pulled just as nicely when i got home that night. The final temp on it was 200 on the button even though the oven's temp was set at 170.

In my experience, cranking up the temp at the beginning doesn't really speed up the process all that much. The convenience is the lack of worry about temperature spikes and it reduces the need to micromanage your fire. Of course, if part of your joy in smoking is the sitting by the fire and tinkering with it, that's a different story. There's a satisfaction in that you can't deny, especially if there's beer involved.

Oh yeah, if you do the split coking thing, you don't have to set your stove at such a low setting. I did it because I was going to have to go to work. Normally, I put it at 225 to finish the butt. This particular time, I didn't want to come home to find a shrivelled up black piece of inedible shoe leather. I *was* almost pleasantly surprised that the 170 temp got the butt up to 200 internal. I suspected that it might be the case, and was glad when it turned out to be true.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Lots of good advice, thanks.

Results: Preheated the smoker for 45 minutes at 6 AM, butts went in at 6:45. The temp of the smoker never got quite high enough, I had the dial set at its maximum which is 250 but it hung around 200-210 until mid afternoon. Temp of the meat did OK though, I foiled it at about 2:00, meat was done at 6. Taste was A-1 excellent. :)

Not sure why my smoker didnt want to get hot. Outside temps were in the 30s all day (no wind), but its fairly well insulated so that shouldnt have been too big a problem. I did some more reading on the SMF, a few things I'll be checking:
- calibrate my probes
- use the potato method - I had the probes just dangling there in the air
- probably buy a good temp probe, drill a hole and install it permanently so I can keep my remote probe in the meat
- open the door a little less often
- maybe supplement the electric with a couple briquettes
- not sure about the dial on my smoker that sets the temperature - probably try to calibrate that too.

Dutchs beans are awesome. :)
I think brisket is next. And a fattie, by request of my sons.
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