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1st Boston Butt - Questions

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
This is my first smoke, with my new MES. I put my butt (5 1/2 pounds) on about 7:30am. Set the temp to 225 (MES temp). It's been on for about 3 hours - but my Digital probe temp only shows 196 (the MES shows 225). I've read don't trust the MES temp, but should I increase the temp on the MES to get my prob to read roughly 225? Or what should I shoot for on the temp? Any help would be appreciated.

Also, I rubbed with Mustard and a dry rub last night and am using part apple juice/water in the water bowl.

How long will this take until it's complete? Should I take it out and foil it at 160 or keep it in until the meat prob shows 200. Foil or no foil?
post #2 of 6
Foil or no foil is fine. Foil makes sure the meat falls apart, everytime. I usually cook butts at 250 to 260. Foil at 165 internal, pull off the smoker to cooler and rest for at least an hour when they reach 205-210. Hope that helps.
post #3 of 6
hey, john - welcome to the SMF ~ we'll see if we can get some answers to your good questions. here are a few suggestions based on my experiences.

first, trust the people who say never trust the sstock thermometer or heat indicator. even if it is accurate (which is usually not likely), chances are that it is not at meat level. many of them are far above the meat and what you get is a temperature that is far below what you need it to be - judging by the differences in your temp indications, this may be the case.

trust your digiprobe, assuming that it is calibrated and reading correctly. a good way to test this is to stick the probe into boiling water, not touching the pan. it should read at the boiling temperature FOR YOUR ELEVATION (a conversion cahrt for this can be looked up on the internet); where i live, this is 207.8 degrees and my thermometer reads dead on. you can also make an ice slurry and stick the probe in there, it should read very, very close to 32 degrees (i think mine reads 32.5, IIRC).

you want to smoke at around 225 degrees, but this is not set in stone. if it is at 220 for a while, it's no big deal. i myself prefer to smoke at around 250 degrees as i believe the meat takes on some great flavors at around this cooking temperature. there is actually a term for this addition of flavor that i saw on the food network, but i'll be danged if i remember what it is. all i know is that it seems to happen better when cooking at 350 rather than at 225. my opinion is that at 225, the meat can dry out a bit and leave you you with the beginnings of pork jerky. opinions vary on this, but the best thing to know is that you will be fine if smoking anywhere between 220 and 260. most prefer 225, some prefer 250.

as far as foiling, i prefer not to but there is nothing wrong with doing so. the only time i foil is when the meat is done and has reached a temp of 190 or so (200 is actually a bit better, but i never can seem to wait that long), then i foil it and wrap it in towels and set it in a cooler for at least a half hour and it can be there as long as the internal temps are above 140 degrees. you need to let your meat reast at leat a half hour, or it will turn an ungly brown when you slice/pull/shred it and, even worse, all the juices will run out.

hope this helps - be sure to ask any follow-up questions you might have and keep us posted. q-view is also great as it helps you learn and makes us drool. lastly, it would be a good idea to pick up the knowledge that can be found in the BBQFAQ. this is a word document that you can download to your desktop and refer to any time. there is a ton of information here, and you can read it all or simply skip to what you need. here is a link to a download of a SAFE zip file for the word document:

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the help. I'll try and get my temps up. Unfortunately, I did not calibrate my digital probe - I hope that it is accurate. But the temp difference between my MES digital temp and my ET-7 digital temp is quite different. My MES is reading about 23 degrees higher than the ET-7. (I have the probe poked through a potato).

The pork has been on for about 3 hours and the internal meat probe is showing 149 degrees.
post #5 of 6
the internal meat temperature is the important one to keep in mind. you are soon going to hit the "plateau" and it will hold at a temperature and might even drop a degree or two. just wait it out and keep your cooking temps constant.

one thing to keep in mind is that if you can get a good, accurate reading at grate level, and note what your "stock" thermo reads at that, you will be in good shape. for isntance, i've got the "wonderful" "warm-ideal-hot" indicator. i learned that when my grate is at 250 degrees, my indicator reads on the "A" in "ideal." with this information, i can see what my temps at the grate are doing and know when to bring temps up or down. it's a good relative gauge for this and does the job. the important thing is to be aware of what's going on and make small adjustments - nothing drastic or you will end up overshooting your mark.

finally, remember that there is a difference between meat being "done" and meat being "barbecue." barbecue means that the meat has come slowly up to an ideal temperature to melt down fat, connective tissues etc. and has maintained those higher (but slower) temperatures long enough to impart some great flavors and tenderness to the meat while keeping it good and juicy. the result is nothing short of spectacular.

keep up the good work!
post #6 of 6
Without calibrating, I would still trust the Maverick thermometer over the stock. It only takes a few minutes to boil water, why not check the Maverick on the fly today? If it looks good, you'll have a much less stressful cook.
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