Apple & RBP Butt- Experimental High Temp Smoke & Cold Smoked Pinto Beans: Q-view & Recipe

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Aug 27, 2008
Hey everyone! I had an idea on a butt smoke which I wanted to pass along today. I wanted to see what the results would be if a smoke were started in the 225-250* range and then pushed at over 300 to reach finished temps. I was thinking along the lines of not over 2 hours at normal smoke temps for a shoulder, and then push it hard for the remainder of cooking time to see how it effects the texture for pulling after it has rested for an hour or so.

So, the gourmet for a no-foiled butt and the SV24 for cold smoked dried pinto beans will provide my smoking mediums for today.

Is low & slow absalutely neccessary for tenderization of tough cuts? Most will say it is, and I would agree with those who do. I want a trial for factual evidence, and today, if the charcoal fired smoker will give me the temps to pull it off, a high temp finish for this smoke will provide the means to see if low & slow for tender pulled pork from the tough shoulder is a must or not. If nothing else, this should put any controversy to rest. Realizing that the butt will suffer less smoke penetration/reation, I planned on starting at normal temps to compensate for this, then building up the heat after a couple hours.

I have a back-up plan for the pork shoulder if pulling will not be achievable as well, so we'll at least be able to enjoy the efforts for today's smoke if the pork won't pull. I have some dry pinto beans which I started soaking in salt water @ 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon for some smoked beans to go with the pulled pork. If pulled pork won't happen, then I can chunk up most of the meat and toss it into the loss in doing that, IMO. So, either pulled pork or bust, we'll have dinner.

My youngest daughter (about to turn 15) has been showing some interest in learning the craft of smoking meats lately, so she assisted me with grinding and blending the dry rub last night, applying the dry rub this morning, and observed the smoker prep and firing of the charcoal, etc. It is nice to have a younger prospective smoker take interest, and this should be a fun day for her as well. So, I'm explaining some of the basics of what we're doing along the way today.

Oh, here's the dry rub we tossed together last night:


4 Tbls dried ground apple

2 Tbls dried ground red bell pepper

1 Tbls dried minced garlic, ground

1 Tbls dried rosemary, ground

1 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbls paprika

1 Tbls chili powder

1 Tbls ground black peppercorn

With a scored fat cap, dry rub applied, we're ready to go into the Gourmet charcoaler with smoke provided by one small chunk each of apple & pecan:


I used a form of the minion method by loading my coal grate/cage about 3/4 full of cold briquettes, then laying out 3/4 of chimney of hot coals on top. I ran into an issue with the height of the coals being too high and the water pan was actually resting directly on the coals, so the resulting rapid steam-off of the water was holding the chamber temps in the 220-225* range just below the upper grate where the butt is resting. I pulled a few tricks with reducing the lower intake draft, spacing the barrel up off the rim of the stock charcoal pan for about 30 minutes to get the fire burning a bit hotter around the outside of the coal bed, then, removed the spacers and opening up the main and auxiliary intakes fully.

I puzzled me that the temp didn't want to rise to excessive range, but then with the firing method and close proximity of the water pan to the fire, it all made sense. Also, I only added 1 quart of water, knowing that with less water to steam off, higher temps would be achieved. I made need to add a half quart at a time every 30-40 minutes to reach and hold a 300* (+) chamber temp...we'll see how that works out later.

The pinto beans into the Smoke Vault 24 on the jerky grate for a cold smoke with apple and cherry after a 21-hr soak:


I opened the side intake vents and left my 24" vent stack in place for added draft to reduce smoke stagnation in the chamber due to low heating which reduces draft, placed 3 hot coals in a row on a stainless expanded steel grate, added small chunks and chips of smoke woods, and added one more briq on top/front of the smoke wood and waited for the TBS to begin:


Waiting for smoke:


There we are:


Smoke is coming on slow, but sure, just the way I like it:


Ah, yes, time to close it up and give it 30-40 minutes to smoke the beans:



Temps ran up to 159* on the door therm...I'm not worried about what temp it rose to as much as having proper ventilation of the smoke chamber. 45 minutes and the briquettes had mostly burned up and smoke wood died out.



The butt is in for 4 hours now...I stuck it about 15 minutes after taking these pics and the temp was 158*F @ 4.25 hrs, so I may be able to hit the 195-200* finished temp within 7-8 hours. This was a 7.5lb butt, so that would be a fairly fast cooking time...that's what I wanted for today, just for the purpose of putting this trial smoke up against the low & slow debate:



The scored fat cap looks nice, as expected, and the bark is forming up quite well.

I'm letting the water pan run dry for temp spikes into the 350-400* range for a few minuutes before adding another 1/2 quart, so that's helping me pull the higher average chamber temps. After adding water, it's holding in the ~315-320* range.

I did add another 1-1/3 chimney for hot coals after the 4-hr mark, as the initail coals had burned up nearly 80% of the total I started with, so we should be good to run for another 3 hours, give or take. The higher temp smoke burns up the coals pretty fast compared to when I run in the lower 200* range...lots more air flow through the smoke chamber to keep a hot enough fire. The additional air flow will like effect the overall convection process during the smoke as well, creating more thermal energy transfer to the butt. All in all, much faster than I would normally smoke...probably twice as fast...we'll see how it effects the pulling of the meat tonight.

Internal temp is now 167* @ 5 hours into the smoke...dang, that's a fast climb from the 4.25-hr check...again, that's what i wanted to see for the purpose of this trial smoke.

Thanks for checkin' out my latest experiment! The finish and results to come in a few hours, then we can discuss the relative issues.

Have a GREAT Sunday!!!

The beans dish was not fully concieved as to what the ingredients would be earlier, but I have it put together now, and finishing in the oven @ 325*. I have the beans smoked, so there's not much point in finishing cooking them in the smoker. We don't use liquid smoke around here, so the cold smoke was a great way to kick this dish off.

I tossed a chopped med/lg yellow onion and 1 Tbls dried minced garlic, 1 Tbls Paprika, 3 Tbls light brown sugar, 3 Tbls dried 3/8" diced red bell peppers, 2 cans ro-tel diced chilies and tomatoes and 2 large handfuls of white rice into an aluminum 12" x 18" x 2" deep baking pan, then added enough cold water to come up about half-way up the pan sides and popped it into the "O". It's just another spur-of-the-moment dish that should be a very good accompaniment for the pulled pork...that is, if I can pull the shoulder...if not, it can get chunked-up and added to the beans for some serious smoked pork and beans with a slightly spicy/hot and slightly sweet flavor profile to go along with the apple/cherry smoke.



I stirred this a bit to get everything blended togetehr a bit after it was baking for the first 45 minutes, did a moisture check and I may add a few cups of water to it at about 90 minutes in, if needed. I want just enough water to build somewaht of a natural sauce from the bean and rice starches, and enough liquids to cook the rice and beans. The rice should be very tender by the time the beans are cooked through, as the beans were soaked for so long before cooking, and the rice is much smaller and was not soaked before cooking. Nothing too complicated going on here.

BTW, our house is now filled with the aromas of the beans, and it smells great!

More to come!

Thanks Bear!

I yanked the butt out @ 7 hours in, with internal temps ranging from 191* to 202*. Probing was very tender in most places, with just a slight resistance closer to the bone area. This was a fairly small spot though...I probed it about a half dozen times in that spot and decided this one small area may be a bit tough, but the rest felt like it was good to go for a towel covered rest for an hour before I pop the bone out and begin the final cerimony.

Temps have been running in the 335-350* range for the past hour or so, and the apple dry rub's natural sugar's took a bit of a hit from the extra's not burnt, but very well carmelized, for sure...every place the fat cap rendering had dripped or migrated to has a very dark colored bark:


Got tons of shrinkage, and some bone showing, so we should have a decent cook...but was it too fast for tender, juicy pulled pork???:


73abc1fa_19.jpg foiling, no added juices and a fast smoke...that's really pushing the envelope...only a wet smoke to keep it happy during it's double-time smoke chamber ride.

Pulled Pork (I hope) coming soon...gonna give it 60 minutes rest, and that's in about 45 minutes, so..........


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Thanks fellas, the results are in for the high temp smoked shoulder. I hadn't read of anyone deliberately cranking the heat to a shoulder before, and my curiosity has now been satisfied.

It wasn't a total bust...still very good eating, with a nice smoke flavor to go along with the apple/rbp rub, which was actually quite good as well...enough flavor to hold up to the stronger flavor of the shoulder, even though it was a variation of the last butt rub I used, which contained the ground cherry to add a bit more punch. I wasn't even looking at that recipe when I tossed this one together last night...just shooting from the hip to get something a bit different.

The smoke reaction was reduced quite a bit, with far less smoke ring than I'm accustomed to seeing with my pork smokes, especially with a charcoal-fired smoke. That's mainly due to the high heat after the initial couple of hours in the low to mid 200* range. A larger cut like this can take on a good amount of smoke for several hours if lower temps are maintained.

But man, what a PITA to get it pulled. I used tongs to grab hold of part of a chunk while I held it down against the pan with a 4" wide heavy-duty meat handling fork. The bark was super-heavy, which I wanted, and required some extra effort to break it down a bit as a result...the price you pay for a great bark, and well worth it.

The bone was not exactly wanting to come out...I had to use tongs to remove some rather large pieces of bark and some attached meat:


Lots of connective tissues were still intact, and that was the culprit to the tough pulling shoulder...low & slow would have taken care of that, for sure...:







The probing for tenderness was a bit decieving in this case, as I do probe if I have any doubt, instead of relying on temps alone for my doneness checks.

I did manage to break it down to edible size chunks...the bark was very nice, thick and crisp from the no-foiling, of course.

Anyway, low & slow for pulled pork is definitely the way to go. I wouldn't do this again, especially if it were for a special meal which I would be serving to guests.

If you're in a pinch for time, it's do-able, just be advised that you will be busy for awhile getting the meat pulled apart.

The texture of the meat isn't bad, it's just a few small chewy spots that didn't have enough time to get melted down from the high rate of internal temp rise. Moisture content was typical of my previous no-foiled low & slow smokes with a humid smoke chamber, so no appreciable amount of change there.

So, for the newbies to pulled pork, there you have it. I've been smoking butts for more than a few years now, and wanted to find out for myself just what would happen if you jammed the heat to a, I know, first-hand.

I've got a couple more pics to post, but have been fighting issues with the preview button not pulling up a valid page, and showing errors, among other issues. I may be able to get this to post and then edit to add the rest, or try an additional reply. Here goes...SUBMIT...


OOOOOOOOOOOOPS!!! I fogot the beans! LOL!!!


Later all!

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Thanks for the info, I've wondered about the results, but the price and availability of butts kept me from trying it.

The beans look interesting, how did they turn out?

Great "What happens if" story, Eric!

I don't know how many times, while reading, I said,"Oh No, don't do that!"

But it came out better than I expected.

Looks to me like it's not real easy to screw up a butt, as long as people get it through the danger zone safely.

Thanks for the education, Eric!

Yes, thanks Eric. Even if it wasn't melt in your mouth PP, it SURE LOOKED awesome. I don't mind chewing on a little bark!
Great "What happens if" story, Eric!

I don't know how many times, while reading, I said,"Oh No, don't do that!"

But it came out better than I expected.

Looks to me like it's not real easy to screw up a butt, as long as people get it through the danger zone safely.

Thanks for the education, Eric!

Thanks, Bear, I guess I decided to try this project with the understanding that it could turn out much worse than I even expected it to. That's where the beans dish came into the picture, as a catch net of sorts to rescure the meal, if need be. I knew there would be some tough spots, but when probing for tenderness, I think I might have run the probe with the grain more than through/across it, and that may be where I was fooled and decided it could come out and rest. Also, the towel covered (not foiled) rest for only an hour was likely a faster cool-down than it should have was still too hot to handle without protection though, so it's hard to say for sure.

The texture and moisture of the meat wasn't that bad, with a slight chew like it would be if sliced thick. The bark was pretty intense...I loved it.

Yea, I would have to agree with you about a butt being difficult to totally screw it up...tough to pull, but still edible, just not like a properly cooked pulled pork would eat.

Yes, thanks Eric. Even if it wasn't melt in your mouth PP, it SURE LOOKED awesome. I don't mind chewing on a little bark!
Yea Al, it wasn't bad eating, just different than you'd expect for pulled pork...more of a chunked pork, I guess, without slicing. The bark was really good. My wife looked at it under low room lighting and asked if I was going to trim off the bark, and I said, oh, no that stays...that's flavor! She looked at me kinda funny, so I said it's not charred, just very well carmelized. I didn't taste any charring at all, and I'm not a big fan of it myself, except for a bit of charred fat on a good t-bone or ribeye of the charcoal grill...crispy fat edges...just a touch of it, and I'm good to go.
Thanks for the info, I've wondered about the results, but the price and availability of butts kept me from trying it.

The beans look interesting, how did they turn out?

Thanks Gene, yeah, it's probably not a game that just anybody would want to play, especially if you hadn't thought ahead and planned on a bust of sorts like I did. It did turn out better than I thought it would, so the beans just ended up being a bonus for the day.

Oh, speaking of the beans, they're a pretty nice twist from the canned beans. I didn't want to add much in the way of sugars, so stayed light on the brown sugar, but I sure did miss having the pineapple chunks like in Dutches Wicked Beans. I didn't find any in the pantry an ddidn't want to send anyone out for some, so opted to go without. The acidity and sweetness of the pineapple would have been a great finish for these. As they were, it was a bit spicier dish, just not as sweet as I would have liked.

Also, they do like to be cooked covered, but you probably knew that. The soaking for a long period helps quite a bit to soften and bulk them up with water before you start cooking. These still had a small percentage that split open, which soaking should reduce, but it's just a visual appeal. The pinto beans seem to take longer thatn great northerns? Maybe It'st me, but that last soaked beans I made didn't take this long, maybe 4 hours at 225* s,moker temps, where these were pushing 4 hours @ 325* oven temps...

Oh, a good additional tidbit on the beans...if you put them under your ribs in a vertical smoker and run about 25-40* higher chamber temps to compensate for the baffling effect the pan has on the meats above it, you can catch drippings in the pan of beans for added flavor. Just stir it in before serving, and be sure they're over 170* (that's what I was told a long time ago, but that may be lower for minimum safe temps for meat drippings now).

Thanks fellas! That was a pretty fast-paced ride, but still a good learning tool, even for me. I knew it would be a bit rough, but it wasn't like I had white caps breaking over the bow and crashing through the wheel house...this boat's still steaming forward...LOL!!!!!!!

Great smokes to all!

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