Comparing two butts: Foiled & Unfoiled - QView

Discussion in 'Pork' started by knifebld, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    Hey all,

    So if anyone has tried searching 'Foil vs No foil' in the search box lately you will get an impressive quantity of threads that relate to the topic. Last week I was following another foil/no-foil thread in regards to pork butt ( This led me to stop off at my butchers on Friday and picked up two butts in order to test both methods and compare results for myself.

    Here we go;

    Both butts were about 10 lbs each (less then 1/2 lb between them) and both were given a thin layer of mustard (thanks to my smokin' buddy Daniel);

    Next, they were rubbed down and ready for the smoker (unfortunately, no time to sit in the fridge was 11:30PM Saturday at this point and was planning on using some of these butts for Sunday dinner).

    Both butts went on my WSM at midnight on the top grate. We were smoking these at 235F with Hickory and Apple. To ensure a constant temperature, Daniel volunteered to monitor temps throughout the night (he was very excited about this!).

    During the night, I asked Daniel to spritz (apple juice and spiced rum) both butts every hour after each butt had reached 100F. At about 7AM here's how they looked (Daniel...pretty exhausted at this point);

    My turn to take the reins Daniel headed off to bed LOL

    Both butts hit 165F around the same time (give or take a few degrees). I placed one in a aluminum pan, and poured a half batch of Chef JJ's finishing sauce (awesome stuff!) over it. Covered with heavy duty foil and back in the smoker it went;

    I continued to spritz the unfoiled but every hour or so.

    Finally after 14 hours, my foiled butt reached a pulling temp of 205F...non foiled butt was sitting at 185F. Without adjusting the temperature, it took the un-foiled butt 3 more hours to reach 205F.






    WOW, this is a tough one for me...the taste of the foiled butt was out of this world right out of the smoker, but I did miss that wonderful bark that the unfoiled one had.

    IMHO, I would vote for the foiled butt..the PROS simply outweighed those of the unfoiled butt. However, I am the kind of guy who thinks that you can have your cake and eat it too...

    So when I smoke my next butt, I will be attempting a variation of both methods (still not sure what yet). I am also hoping that some of the 'unfoiled' smokers chime in to provide some variations that help moisten up the meat a little (and I do not mean juicing it after its pulled).

    Anyhow...this was fun and I have over twenty pounds of pulled pork to make meals out of...unfortunately with my size family...this is no more then 2 meals [​IMG]

  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great post,      [​IMG]

    I will have a sammie from the one on the right.
  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's an easy one for me, foiled all the way. Your note that the foiled butt had more uniform flavor and better moisture jibes with my experience. I'm not such a fan of bark, but I absolutely refuse to tolerate dry pulled pork. To me it's a waste of time and money (and substantial amounts of both) to end up with dry meat just to assure you have bark. If you REALLY need bark, put it back on the smoker unwrapped for the last hour or two like you do with ribs.
  4. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    Both look wonderful, and great job Daniel and his "assistant".  While I love bark, the home boss [​IMG]  prefers the foiled version, and I manage to choke it down, each and every time!  But overall, placing back on the smoke for the last hour is a great thing and does work fine.

    Congratulations and keep up the good work!

  5. Great thread and great pics [​IMG]For me I am the Un-foiled guy.  I don't mind the time it takes to reach 203F and my family CRAVES those barky pieces throughout the pull.  To that end I have never had a dry butt in all the ones I have done.  I am lucky that my smoker (Smokin-It #2) holds moisture in the chamber very well.   I rub then into the smoker.  I don't spritz.....or open the smoker (just an occasional one to take a pic for you guys and gals) but for the most part I leave it alone.  After it reaches 203F I pull it out place in the pulling pan and cover with foil for an hour. 

    When I pull I make sure to mix well so the barky pieces are evenly distributed and usually add SoFlaQers finishing sauce (gonna have to try Chef JJ's, maybe on tomorrow's butt) and serve with my Famous (locally) cole slaw on a toasted bun.  

    With all the delicious fat marbelling a good butt I am not sure how they get dry and I usually smoke my butts at 240-250 the whole time through.  I don't use a WSM so maybe there is some moisture loss there?  Not sure. 

    Anyway as I said great post!!! 

  6. smokerelli

    smokerelli Fire Starter

    Really great post!! I know personally I was one that also has asked foil/no foil in the past.  Even better pics, looks delicious.
  7. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Adam...gotta love that bark! LOL
    Thanks Scott, was not suprised with your vote...come to know that you are not a wrapper! LOL
    Thanks bud, it is a very popular topic!
  8. "Thanks Scott, was not suprised with your vote...come to know that you are not a wrapper! LOL"

    Chad that's the GREAT thing about Q is experimenting and finding out what ya prefer and finding NEW things to try.  [​IMG]
  9. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    We have the same taste and I do tend to agree with your comments. Thanks for stopping by :)
    I think you are right...I like the bark, but I could do wife LOVES the I am going to try unfoiling for the last hour and see if I can have the best of both worlds!
  10. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    Oh almost forgot....last nights pulled pork was used for.....POUTINE!!!

    This was the best Poutine I have ever had...and being from Montreal, I know my Poutine!! This even tops the Poutine I have a few months ago made with Montreal Smoked Meat. The kids absolutely loved it!

  11. [​IMG]   Mmmmmmm Poutine........I love love love Poutine!!!
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nice smoke! Good comparison. However to have made it a fair comparison you should've not added anything to the foil except the butt. Then tried each prior to adding your finishing sauce. Then add the finishing sauce to both and tried those. That would be closer to comparing apples to apples.
  13. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    Good point....however, with the foiled version 'I CAN' add finishing sauce mid-way through the smoke....if I attempted that with the unfoiled version it would have simply made a mess of my smoker! LOL

    My objective in this comparison was to compare two butts using best known techniques for foiled and unfoiled smoking methods...only thing I did not have control over was using different temperature for each cause I only own one smoker (for now LOL).

    Appreciate you weighing in!
  14. They both look great, the smoke ring on the un-foiled was super. I usually wrap mine, but on occasion I will leave it unwrapped  Try sitting it in a foil pan uncovered and use the juice in the pan for basting.

    Gary S
  15. knifebld

    knifebld Smoking Fanatic

    Aww see now there's something I could try...'best of both worlds' approach! LOL

    So no foiling, just panned and you would baste it every now and then? Sounds like a plan!

    Cheers Gary!
  16. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cool thread Chad.... Betcha you'll end with a 50/50 split on the two.... LOL ! :biggrin: Always enjoy these discussions ! Thumbs Up
  17. For a "best of both world's" approach what about doing the same process then mixing them together while pulling them? Seems like you'd get the bark from the unfoiled and the moisture and flavor of the foiled.

    I think I just gave myself an idea for this upcoming weekend...
  18. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Absolutely fantastic thread. I'll keep foiling. I learned something new though called poutine. Gotta make me some uh dat!
  19. mrshep70

    mrshep70 Fire Starter

    Thank you for the side by side comparison. I have been wondering about foiled or unfoiled for a while.

    I have made several butts and I foiled all of them. I always had a good smoke ring, but I let them get to around 160 before foiling. I pull mine out of the CC at 190-195 and place it in a small cooler wrapped in a towel to rest for at least an hour. I would let it rest for two if you can get away with it. Here's an idea... Try letting your unfoiled butt hang out and rest in the finishing sauce for an hour or so. I bet the meat will suck up some of that sauce and distribute it nicely throughout the butt. I keep a foil pan under my pork to catch every possible dripping that comes of of it. Then I foil it, and place it in the dripping pan to finish, and it rests in that pan too. When it is done, it is really, really moist. I don't even use any finishing sauce, and my pan is almost full to the top with juice.

    I do the same thing with my brisket, and it comes out incredibly moist, tender, and awesome...

    That's just my two cents. [​IMG]  
  20. That's the Neat thing about BBQ there Is no right or wrong way, whatever you like and works best. Sometimes I get in the mood for totally different style and taste and just go for it. As you travel all over the US (and other countries) you find all types of different flavors, sauces, rubs and smoking wood. I have found flavors I really liked and methods that surprised me.

    Fun to experiment !!!

    Gary S

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