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First Boston Butt - how do I manage it with my grill?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by acadams, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. acadams

    acadams Newbie

    Hi all.  I joined the site a few months ago at the suggestion of my uncle-in-law, Larry. Anyway, I was planning to try my first Boston Butt, but as I read some of the other threads I realized I might have a couple problems with my grill.  As you can see from the picture, it's a two-chambered grill with a divider between the sections.  My first thought was that I could remove the divider and put the pork in the middle, with a fire on either side, but as I thought about it, I realized that probably won't work. 
    • First off, the removable divider only gives me about five or six inches of space and I wasn't sure that was enough room for the pork.  In the picture below you can see the divider between the grill grates.  You can also see at the top of the pic that the grill COVER has a divider as well; that'll get in the way, right?
    • Second, I can't for the life of me figure out how I'm going to get a water pan in there.  Will it be a disaster if I don't have one?
    So here's what I was thinking.  I could either put the butt and the coals on the same side (banked on the right or left) and hope I can make a big enough fire that way to keep it hot without ending up with direct heat (sounds dubious), or I could remove the divider and put the coals on one side and the butt on the other, with the vents opened from the fire side bottom to the pork side top, and turn the butt around halfway through.  But then I'm looking at a bigger fire to keep the temp up at 240, right?

    And what about a water pan/drip pan?  How essential is it?

  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you start a fire on either the left or the right side does the non lit side get any heat or does the divider stop most of? I would vote for fire on one side and butt on the other side but if that means you have to remove the divider to get enough heat to keep it at a constant 225-250 that kind of stinks. As far as a water pan you could just get one of those small square tin pans and fill it with water and put it over your fire or any where on your grate between your fire and butt.
  3. acadams

    acadams Newbie

    Thanks!  I'll start with that.  If I remove the divider, I get enough heat on the other side, but without removing the divider I won't get much heat OR smoke.  But you're saying I can put the water pan on the grate between the meat and the fire?  That would be convenient.  The biggest problem with doing the fire on one side and the meat on the other is that I'm going to be using a LOT of charcoal.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2010
  4. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I used to have one of them there grills/smokers and they work pretty good to. I would do just like rbrans said and start th fire on one side but I would take the moddle piece out so the smoke can get to the other side faster. Then just use a pan maybe a small cast iron pan is good for the wood chips/chunks which ever. Then you will be off and running with some good ole smokey godness.
  5. acadams

    acadams Newbie

    Awesome!  Thanks for the advice. 
  6. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    twere me I would remove the divider, start a fire on the left side (using the minion method, revised to burn left to right instead of from the center out.) mix some chunks of wood with your raw briqs and let er roll. no need for a water pan, unless your temps are spiking too high. After you figure out how much lit briqs it takes to maintain your desired temperature (dry run) repeat as necessary with the butt placed on the right hand side of the grill. You could place a drip pan below your butt to catch the drippings (to keep things tidy, and to use the juices to add back to your foiled meat when the time comes) I would think you could do it without water but keep that option open, if you need water place 9x9 cake pan directly above your fire. The water is not going to affect your meat, it is just to maintain a constant temperature. If you can maintain temps w/o water that would be best, just less to maintain during your smoke. Remember if your lookin....you aint cookin.
  7. acadams

    acadams Newbie

    So I probably should have mentioned that I had to make the pork today (it was on the weekly menu, so if I didn't make it, there'd be no dinner when my wife gets home, and it's my turn to cook).  Anyway, the shoulder is on, but I have a question:

    I added some charcoal after the first hour, but the temp has been going down.  It's down to 200 on the side with the meat and 325 on the side without.  It peaked at 270 about 45 minutes ago.  Should I be worried?  I know I should have used the minion method, but I forgot about it and didn't plan for it.  So without an alternative, I just opened the grill and added some coals.  I know, I'm a rank amateur, but it's my first attempt!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2010
  8. acadams

    acadams Newbie

    Everything turned out fine!  The meat was awesome!  Thanks again for your help.
  9. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    We need some Qview.....droooooling! lol

    Glad it turned out good for you!
  10. acadams

    acadams Newbie


    Here's the finished product.  Since it's my first one, I have no idea if there's a difference, but I asked for a Boston Butt and the butcher said, "A pork shoulder?"  The sticker he put on the plastic said "blade," so I thought, "Hmm... a butt is like the rear end, and a shoulder with a blade is like the front end.  Did I get the right thing?"  Anyway, it was awesome.
  11. mr mac

    mr mac Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Nice job and...yes, you got the right piece of pig! 
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  12. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    The Boston Butt cut is from the upper part of the shoulder from the "front" leg and may contain the "blade" bone.  Looks like it smoked up nicely.

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  13. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    hey great job on that there butt looks great.....happy smoking