Got My Butt in a Quandry

Discussion in 'Pork' started by pi in sc, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. pi in sc

    pi in sc Fire Starter

    I smoked my first butt yesterday but I was not impressed with the outcome. I followed the sticky in this forum... When I finally pulled the meat and tasted, there was not a whole lot too it. The meat was a bit rubbery and lacked flavor. I decided maybe my taste buds were off from all the smoke so I tried again today.... Ehhhhh!

    So now the quandry.... Why go through ALL this time and effort, when I can drop a butt in a crock pot and get more flavor for a lot less effort and meat that melts in your mouth....?

    I love my smoker, but wondering if I should pull out the crock instead when a nice butt presents itself.

  2. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    To each their own.

    Rubbery meat sometimes (often) means it didn't cook long enough.

    Also, a pork shoulder is a big hunk of meat. That's why I prefer to inject them.
  3. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    my wife asked the same question, until i gave her some with the carolina finishing sauce added. one doesn't AHVE too use carolina finishing sauce, but i think it is the best to use/

    as for the part about it being rubbery, not sure how that happened - some more specifics about time, temperatures, when you pulled it etc would be helpful.
  4. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Sorry you were disappointed with the outcome. Please post some more specifics about your smoke, and let the experts weigh in on things you can alter.

    I have never had crock pot pulled pork, and I won't be signing up for that any time soon. I guarantee that any meat that you prepare from a crock pot will not hold a candle to something that has been well prepared from a smoker. This craft is not for the person that wants to take the easy way is a labor of love, and the results are a direct representation of that.

    I recommend that you try again. Start with some small items until you get the hang of it, and then progress to larger items...maybe start off with some smoked brats (I personally love apple smoked johnsonville brats) or maybe some country style pork ribs (which are pork butt cut into 1-2 inch strips) that cook much quicker due to increased surface area. These are not such a huge commitment of time. Once you start getting some confidence move on to a whole butt...Pork butts should be forgiving, and that is why I am somewhat confused at your results. Please post some specifics and let us try and help you.
  5. cruizer

    cruizer Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Believe me Pi smoking is an art that is learned through practice and help from the SMF. Have you heard of the faux-Q on ribs? This is where you crock pot them till tender the throw them on the grill. [​IMG] Keep hanging here. There is a wealth of info. Smoke on! [​IMG]
  6. dirtman775

    dirtman775 Smoking Fanatic

    Maby just a little more intell PI. temp's, maby you took it out too early? did you let the meat rest a bit b4 pullin?...butt's can be a challange, low and extremely slowwwww. they can be tricky. getting stuck at certian temps can try someones paitence[​IMG]
  7. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    More info would help.Pork butt is a forgiving piece of meat if smoked in certain guidlines.I inject myself, but dont break the crockpot out yet.
  8. pi in sc

    pi in sc Fire Starter

    Carolina Finishing sauce? Is that the cider vinegar, brown sugar and red pepper flakes sauce?

    Here is what I did....
    Smoked at 130-140 degrees until the meat reached 160. Wrapped in foil and braised at 250 until the meat reached 200. Pulled it off, wrapped in a old sleeping bag and placed in a cooler for 2 hours.

    Some thoughts...
    - Should I have smoked until the internal temp reached 165-170?
    - I purchased the meat at Wally world (was in a rush) and it was not the quality I usually get from my local butcher. The meat was pale, very wet (water injected) and too much marbling IMO...
    - Braising... I removed the smoke box and water tray and the temp spiked to 300 for 10-15 mins before I could get it back under control and down to 250. The meat reached 200 in approx 90 mins... Too fast IMO for effective braising...?
    - Meat had an excellent dark thick bark, just not as much flavor as I expected.

    Thanks for the help!
  9. crewcab4x4

    crewcab4x4 Smoking Fanatic

    If you smoked the butt at 130-140 deg. How did it reach an internal temp of 160 ? Smoking at that low of a temp. could leave the meat in the danger zone to long. Trial and error is the only way to improve the technique.

  10. pi in sc

    pi in sc Fire Starter

    Opps! Typo... 230 - 240. Sorry bout that!
  11. iadubber

    iadubber Meat Mopper

    I smoke mine at 240 until internals reach 165-170, then foil until 195-200. Sounds like you are on the right track. I also put as much rub as the thing will hold on it and some more. I also save the juices after foiling and reintroduce after chilling and removing the fat. A nice finishing sauce always helps.
  12. grothe

    grothe Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds ta me that ya got a low quality piece o' butt.
    Try again with a butt from your butcher (far better quality than wally world I'm sure)...I think you surprised at the difference.
  13. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    hi, pi -

    i've only done three of these so far, but it does sound like you did everything well -

    the butt's i've got have been from wal-mart as well - probably not the best, but they've worked well; the injection didn't seem to hurt anything although i would prefer them without. the marbling is generally fine as it all renders out and is what makes the butt juicy and moist.

    i generally smoke at about the same temperatures (short temp spikes are no big deal as it is a big piece of meat) until the meat is 190 degress, then i pull it off the fire, wrap it in foil and towels for about a half-hour and then pull and enjoy. i do intend to try foiling at 160-165, in order to see if that helps keep the surface from getting TOO dark.

    my suggestion might be that going as far as 200 before pulling it off the fire nmight ahve been waiting just a bit long - give 190 a try since the temp still continues to rise after it is pulled off. as one fellow explained to me, "there's cooking meat until it is done, and there is cooking meat until it is barbecue. those are two different things."

    yep, the carolina sauce i use is based on cider vinegar, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. i got the recipe from RIVET and it is good:

    the red pepper flakes might sound scary, but they really do enhance the flavor without being too voer powering. if you choose to try this recipe, you can try reducing them by half, if you want, but i don't think it's necessary.

    one final thing - along with the excellent advice provided here by forum members, i would recommend that you download this safe word-zip file called the BBQFAQ and save it to your desktop for reference -

    there is a LOT of stuff here and will answer nearly all posaible issues ~ i can honeslty say that this thing has helped me turn out some great stuff.

    above all, don't give up! give it another try, change one or two small things with your goal in mind, and keep track of results. it might sound a little crazy, but take pictures of the process, too. they can help you keep track of what you're doing - and besides, we love q-view! i've got two strikes against me - i've lived in the north all my life plus i've never done real BBQ of any kind until last year. if i can do it, anyone can!
  14. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    I found on my first several butts, that I had rubbery meat too. it wasn't until I got smart and paid close attention to where the bone was - down inside the butt - and made sure I got the thermometer probe into the center of the largest chunk of meat, and well away from the bone, that I got really good results. also, I know everyone says they pull at 160/170 and foil, but I always just go all the way nekkid (no foil) and don't take it out of the smoker til it hits 200-210. wrap, and insulate (I wrap it in 3 or 4 bath towels) for 30 min to an hour. then I unwrap, remove the bone, break it into chunks and pull by hand as the chunks cool enough to handle. I also use the finishing sauce - really adds that extra little bit.

    that's how I do it. It might not be what everyone else does, but I've never had anything but good results with this method (my yardstick is whether or not my wife's eyes close and a long low "mmmm" issues forth as she chews. [​IMG] (also, by how many times I have to slap her hand away from the pile of pulled pork [​IMG] )
  15. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It sounds like you did everything right. Just a thought, have you checked your therms? What kind of wood did you use?

    I always use a drip pan underneath with some au jus and a few thin slices of onion. I then put that in the freezer for a bit, skim the fat and pour over the pulled pork to add a nice smokey flavor.

    Don't give up, just get a handle on it, you'll be glad you did.
  16. pi in sc

    pi in sc Fire Starter

    I tend to agree. I was there yesterday and just looking at the color alone, the butchers butts were a much richer red.

    I was thinking about doing the same thing and skip the foiling. If I drop the temp 5 degrees or so, and raise the meat up in the smoker to the top shelf it may prevent the meat from creating a bark that is too thick/dark.

    The finishing sauce is very similar to the one I use, minus the beer. I always have a few bottles of guniness in the fridge and will give a nice stout beer a try next time.

    Thanks for the Link TasunkaWitko, very helpful indeed!

    I was worried about this when I was inserting the probe... Too close to the bone can definitly give you some bad temps. I may have had the probe a bit too close tho I tried to keep it about 1/2" above the bone furthest away from the heat source.

    Another vote for nekkid meat! Next go round no foil it is...

    I use an ET73 and did verify using boiling water when first purchased... I used hickory, I actually though of a mod for my smoker while smoking the butt. My fire box is a bit high IMO so I purchased some of those clay "feet" people use to raise planters off their decks. The small ones are perfect to raise a smoke box about an 1" off the flame. Should result in quicker smoke.
  17. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like you're getting it figured out. I've smoke about a dozen butts in the last year or so. I've also done the crock pot method a few times. There's nothing wrong with the crock pot if that's the flavor you want. I used to add chicken broth, celery, carrots, salt & pepper and a little Worchestchire Sauce. Let that baby sit all day and you've got a nice, melt in your mouth piece of pork.
    The difference is the smoke. It's a totally different way to cook food and comes with it's own distinct flavor. I guess you've got to decide if you and your family enjoy that sort of thing. If you've had it, and liked it, from restaurants or friends, etc. I encourage you to keep playing and experimenting until you get it right. It's very satisfying knowing what you've done when you get it right.
    But like you and several others have noticed it may be the meat. I have trouble finding anything but vacu-packed Hormel pork AND I LIVE IN IOWA. I don't like their stuff because it's injected with all kinds of crap for flavoring and and often for preserving. Alot of their stuff seems to be really fatty too.

    So don't give up. Unless you just don't like BBQ.
  18. pi in sc

    pi in sc Fire Starter

    Thanks Dude! I love the taste of smoked meat and the challenge of getting it perfect is something I cannot walk away from. My initial reaction was well, just that... I guess my point was if this is good as it gets then why bother...? Luckily thanks to some great support from the folks here I realized it is not as good as it gets and I have some work to do to take it to the next level.

    Thanks again!

  19. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    as far as meat quality goes. I'll tell you my favorite way to get meat now is to buy directly from the farmer. I bought 3/4 of a beef, and a whole hog the last 2 years. I was lucky to have sources come to me, but if I were to move, I'd call local butcher shops and ask them for names and numbers of local ranchers/farmers that consistently bring in good quality animals, and call them to inquire about buying one. to give you an idea, I just got an "unsound" hog (had fought with another and hurt it's lower back causing it to limp and favor one back leg - nothing at all wrong with any of the meat - but the farmer takes a price hit when he takes it to the market), 320lbs on the hoof, for $100. then paid the butcher shop another $156.47 for processing, and now I have 286lbs of pork in the freezer - less than a dollar a pound average. All processed according to my preferences. cant hardly beat that, and it's all good quality meat. the beef is similar, but comes out to just under $2/lb processed. Check it out.

    Edit: I was curious, so I just punched the numbers: $0.90 per lb.
  20. erain

    erain Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    wow heck of a hog, only a 34 pound loss freezer weight/live weight. better ck your numbers or i would be cking out that butchers scales.

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