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Butt not reaching temp

smokeordie

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Joined Nov 21, 2013
I have a modded ecb smoke n grill that will maintain 220-250 for 10 hrs straight using the minion method using briquettes. Today I smoked 2 slabs of spare ribs and a 5lb butt. The ribs were smoked on the top grate and the butt on the bottom grate. I started at 9:45am and the ribs were done at 4pm using the 3 2 1 method and were excellent. The butt was at 140 at 4pm and reached 145 at 6pm. I had to move the butt to the oven because we were eating at 7:30. Any reason why a 5lb butt after 8 hrs would only be at 145?? I've always had great success with ribs and turkeys but the butts always get stuck in the 140s and never rise. It's not like I'm smoking a 10lb butt, just a small 4 or 5lb.
 

superglue

Newbie
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Joined Dec 29, 2013
If you're not doing so already..maybe try letting the cut sit out of the cooler until room temp before cooking?
 

demosthenes9

Master of the Pit
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Joined Apr 2, 2013
I have a modded ecb smoke n grill that will maintain 220-250 for 10 hrs straight using the minion method using briquettes. Today I smoked 2 slabs of spare ribs and a 5lb butt. The ribs were smoked on the top grate and the butt on the bottom grate. I started at 9:45am and the ribs were done at 4pm using the 3 2 1 method and were excellent. The butt was at 140 at 4pm and reached 145 at 6pm. I had to move the butt to the oven because we were eating at 7:30. Any reason why a 5lb butt after 8 hrs would only be at 145?? I've always had great success with ribs and turkeys but the butts always get stuck in the 140s and never rise. It's not like I'm smoking a 10lb butt, just a small 4 or 5lb.
Butts normally hit a stall like that.  Options are to wait it out and just let it keep cooking, foil it and try to help it through the stall, or dial the heat up.

Out of curiosity,  where were you taking your chamber temp readings from ?  I ask this because there can be a fair degree of temp difference between racks in a chamber.
 

geerock

Master of the Pit
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Joined Oct 25, 2010
Yeah, I agree with above. I don't think you're cooking at the temp you think you are. The ecb dial gauges are usually way off. And another hint is that most folks I know who use the 3 2 1 for spares usually overcook them using the full 6 hours at 225 to 230. You say you are at 220 to 250 and using the full six hours. Over 8 hours to get to 145 on a five lb butt is the other hint.
 

davidhef88

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Joined Jun 24, 2011
If you're not doing so already..maybe try letting the cut sit out of the cooler until room temp before cooking?
I do not recommend this. The time it is sitting on the counter it is in the 40-140 in 4 range. There is no benefit to let it sit out, it will "warm up" quicker and safer in the heat of your smoker than on the counter. Check your smoker temps with a thermometer that has been tested in boiling water or an ice bath. If you are you are using the factory therm there is a good chance it is not accurate.
 
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smokeordie

Newbie
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10
Joined Nov 21, 2013
I put a temperature gauge in the top of the dome lid which has been tested and is accurate. I dont have any other temperature gauges so I'm not sure of the exact temps at the lower and upper cooking grates.
 

sprky

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I put a temperature gauge in the top of the dome lid which has been tested and is accurate. I dont have any other temperature gauges so I'm not sure of the exact temps at the lower and upper cooking grates.
You might look at getting a Maverick ET-732. It has 2 probes one for the cooking grate and one for the meat. You can buy another grate probe and use it that way as well. 
 

smokeordie

Newbie
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10
Joined Nov 21, 2013
I got an amazon gift card and was looking into purchasing a maverick thermometer with it. Maybe I'm not cooking quite as hot as I thought.
 

huskerfan1414

Fire Starter
60
13
Joined Dec 28, 2013
I got an amazon gift card and was looking into purchasing a maverick thermometer with it. Maybe I'm not cooking quite as hot as I thought.
This happened to me.  The 140's SUCKED and I actually lost six degress when in them.  It was my first smoke.  I'm guessing my thermometers were off too and I wasn't cooking as hot as I thought I was.  Man...those 140's will drive a guy to drink!  (as if I need an excuse)
 

jtrainor56

Meat Mopper
162
19
Joined Apr 21, 2013
Invest in a Maverick to monitor your cooker and food temps and if in the budget, get yourself and Thermapen. I invested in both this past spring and one of the best purchases I made so far. I now have the wife trained to use the Thermapen when she cooks in the oven!
 

demosthenes9

Master of the Pit
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Joined Apr 2, 2013
 
Invest in a Maverick to monitor your cooker and food temps and if in the budget, get yourself and Thermapen. I invested in both this past spring and one of the best purchases I made so far. I now have the wife trained to use the Thermapen when she cooks in the oven!
I'd definitely go with a Maverick as it eliminates all kinds of "guess work".   The chamber probe will tell you exactly what your grate temp is, and the meat probe will tell you what the internal temp of the meat is.   On top of that, you don't have to open a door / remove a lid to check either.  Even better, you don't even have to walk outside.

In short, temp probes like the Maverick's are game changers.

Smokeordie,

with all that said, it's not absolutely necessary to get a Maverick.   Once you know about the temp variations in your smoker, you just kind of wing it so to speak.  For example, if the dome temp reads 260, the top grate might actually be at 230.    That's fine.  Only thing that will really be affected is your time estimates.   Once you know of this difference, you adjust for it.  It's kind of like when you set your clock ahead by 5 mins, but then you mentally adjust the time to account for it.

Another thing is to learn the characteristics of your smoker and what might lead to temp variations.    For example, an ECB has a big water bowl that takes a while to heat up if filled with cool water.   So, at the outset, the rack right above the water bowl will probably have lower temps than the top rack does.  As the water warms up, that temp difference will decrease.    If you use sand in the water bowl, temps even out more.

If your current temp gauge is removable, I'd wait til you had a consistent temp reading in the dome, record it, then remove the gauge, quickly open smoker and put gauge on top shelf, let smoker recover and record that temp.  Repeat with lower shelf.     Won't be 100% accurate of course, but will give you a pretty good idea about overall variations.
 

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