1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Boneless pork butt into pulled pork-SOMETHING WENT WRONG, please help.

Discussion in 'Pork' started by newbsmoke, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    Sorry if any of this is repeat I searched and couldnt find the exact answer I was looking for.

    When I smoke the meat I smoke to 145, then foil, put back in smoker and bring up to 205?  Is this correct?

    At the end once it hits 205 I leave it in the foil, wrap in two towels and put in a cooler for an hour?  My questions is first is that correct and second why the cooler?  I dont really have a cooler but a small insulated lunch box is that ok?  What about just my counter?

    Its just me and my wife so I always smoke in much smaller quanitites then most people on here.  My butt is only 1.5 lbs so Im think 1.5-2 hours to smoke?  I have an old smokey so it keeps very accurate temp so I was thinking to do it at 225 it seems to be a sweet spot for it.

    And lastly, Ive always used hickory chips but I recently bought some apple wood.  Which should I use?

    Thanks for the feedback!!!
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    So the foil isn't crucial? I'm not risking drying it out?
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No, not at a low temp like 225°F. I just took a 3 lb piece and made Porchetta in a 400°F Oven. Cooked in a hour and was juicy...JJ
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
  5. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    Thanks Chef Jimmy once again you save the day!
  6. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter


    So I made the pulled pork today following the directions to a tee.  I smoked my little 1.5 boneless pork butt for almost 3 hours till my digital thermometer hit 203.  Once it hit 203 I pulled it(already wrapped in aluminum foil, 2 layers of the good costco stuff), wrapped in two towels and through in my soft sided cooler.  I then went and did laundry and was gone for about 3 hours.  When I returned home my butt was at right about 140.  I then unwrapped and here is where the problem started... the meat would not shred at all.  What I ended up doing was chopping it with my knife more like cubes then pulled pork.  The meat was pretty tender and tasted great.  What I did notice was the fat and connective tissue had no dissolved.  Where did I go wrong?????
  7. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Your therm was probably off a few degrees...... You need to check it...... 32 degrees ice bath and 212 degrees water boil depending on altitude... Next time use the tooth pick method... Dont pull it out until it slides in with no resistance. Usually 190 to 195 IT is for slicing so you were probably around that temp
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  8. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    I checked my thermometer and it is reading accurate. I also had it placed in the thickest portion of the meat.
  9. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ok.... what about the pork butt.. its kind of strange to have a 1.5 lb pork shoulder.... I actually never seen one that small... It had to have been trimmed down to where there was no fat ind it was so lean it possibly dried out before the collogen began to break down and tenderize the meat.... I'm just thinking here..... You sure it wasnt a pork loin...just saying.. get any pics
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It sounds like you did everything correctly. There just some Butts that defy the game plan. Some guys come back saying, " I planned on 20 hours for my 10 Lb Butt and it was falling apart at 8 hours!?! " Then there is your situation, should go 3 hours and be perfect at 205°F and you find it still tough. Must a been a Stubborn Pig!...[​IMG]...JJ 
  11. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    Ok I was frustrated and going to give up on pulled pork as everything else I've ever smoked its been great my first try. I guess
    Ill have to do a round 2!!
  12. Some critters are just more ornery than others. Try again but get an 6-8 pounder so you'll have some leftovers for tacos, nachos, egg rolls, etc, etc.
  13. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    For my next one should I go with picnic cut or shoulder cut? There is a .40 cents difference per pound at my local grocery store.
  14. TulsaJeff

    TulsaJeff Smoke Whisperer Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    I prefer and recommend the full sized bone-in shoulder. Should be about 7-8 lbs or so.

    The picnic has a thick skin that is difficult to remove and tends to block the smoke penetration if you leave it on.

    No matter how long you've been doing this, you'll occasionally have one that just defies all conventional wisdom. Give it another chance and your outcome should be much better.
  15. pureflusher

    pureflusher Fire Starter

    I agree with Jeff. Go with a 8-9 pnd boston bone in. Sounds like u did everything right.
  16. smokeusum

    smokeusum Smoking Fanatic

    You'll be happier with the butt as opposed to the picnic. The picnic can dry out in a hot minute, a butt is more forgiving.

    I rarely wrap mine after I pull it out. A pair of good heat resistant gloves and it'll absolutely just fall apart in your hands at 205. Every time I've had to let it "rest" it becomes too difficult. to pull.
  17. newbsmoke

    newbsmoke Fire Starter

    Ok so if when I go to pull it and it doesn't immediately fall apart is that an indicator I should throw it back in?
  18. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    When using a bone in butt as others have recommended, When you think it is done . Grab the bone and try to pull it out of the butt.If it comes out easily the butt is ready for pulling.
  19. michief

    michief Smoke Blower

    Another thought, a 1.5lb chunk of meat simply doesn't have the mass to maintain IT for long in a cooler and I have found that if you let a butt cool down too much before pulling it will tighten up and force you to chop it. I also smoke for myself and the wife only but I always go for a good size butt and freeze what we don't use in eggs, ragu, ETC that weekend.
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I think that one key factor with this small of a shoulder cut for pulled pork may have been overlooked...TIME. Time for melting those connective tissues during the smoke/cooking. 225* is considered low & slow, but with that small of a cut at under 2lbs, 225* may not be low & slow enough. That chamber temp may be quite a bit too high for a small cut, and if you use that temp throughout the smoke, there just may not be enough time to allow for the connective tissues to melt, the fat to render out, etc. With smaller candidates for pullong, I have often used a minimum chamber temp of 225* only for start-up, to pasteurize the surface for 45-60 minutes, then cut the chamber temp back to closer to 200* and let it ride until I/T is close to 170-175*. This allows I/T to rise more slowly through the 150-170* range, translating to more melting of collagen and rendering of fat. To do so with a boneless shoulder cut, one must still consider the 40-140*/4hr rule, but other than that, I it will yield a more tender pork for pulling.

    In regards to the picnic vs butt, I actually prefer the picnic...just can't find them very often around here, or they would be my first PP choice. It has been my experience that it is easier to pull picnics in most cases, likely due to heavier deposits of collagen, and they have much more of that deeper flavor from the collagen and higher amounts of the darker meat than compared to the butt. With every picnic I smoke, I seem to find less fat deposits remaining in comparison to the butt, and the only real difference seems to be more bone with the picnic than the butt, although I don't see this as a draw-back at all...bone comes out easily with little to no picking through the meat for veins, tendons and ligaments. The other noticeable difference is that the picnic has longer muscle groups, as they aren't cut mid-muscle like the butt...if that's an issue, just cut the muscle down a bit before pulling...I never do.

    Definitely a big YES to bone-in pork for pulling...it's a built-in gauge for doneness and will never fail you. The bone is also am any easy to read gauge for meat shrinkage, indicating the progress of cooking mid-smoke. Temps for monitoring overall progress and the indication of stalls, but a bone-tug will tell you the rest of the story. The only hurdle to overcome with a bone-tug is if you're going after a super-heavy, hard bark, as I do...gotta break the bark from the bone before it will really want to move at all...again, not a draw-back, but instead just a simple issue to overcome which also indicates that, yes, you got a great bark on that pork...pat yourself on the back!!!