HELP! First time smoking multiple Pork Butts!!(TOMORROW!)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by gary g, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. gary g

    gary g Newbie

    Hi All,

    I'm new here (just joined today!) and still pretty new to smoking (about 10 months and 6 smokes)!  My mother in law is turning 80 and we're having a birthday party for her this Sunday.

    It's a luncheon kind of thing and the main course is going to be pulled pork sandwiches.  We're looking at 30 (ish) people. From what I've been able to figure out through my research online over the past few days is to figure 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person. So leaning towards to much rather than to little, with 30 (ish) people I figured that I am going to need at least 15 lbs (ish) of cooked meat.  I've also read that you lose about 40% during the smoking process.

    So.....I went and bought 3 pork butts and a pork shoulder. Weights are 7, 8, 10, and 11lbs which is 36 lbs pre-cooked weight.  I'm hoping that's enough! (Am I on the right track here????)

    I'm also struggling is cook times.  The 1.5 hour per lb has been my experience so far (especially in cooler temps).  I'm wondering how much that is going to change with more meat in the smoker.  The party is Sunday at noon.  Saturday is supposed to be 48 degrees. It's going to hit 32 Saturday night!

    My original intention was to start smoking tomorrow (Sat).  Let it go over night and try to have it done by 10am or so on Sunday. 

    I'm thinking with the cooler temps it's going to drag the time out closer to 2 hours per lb with that much meat in there. I'm estimating it could take close to 20 hours to hit 205 on the 11 pounder.

    I'd love to hear about your experience cooking larger quantities of meat - especially when it's chilly out\

    Ok - another dilemma! To inject or not to inject! 

    So - it appears there are multiple camps out there on the injecting thing.  I've never done it before - but last night I bought and injector - kind of itching to try it!  But I also kind of freaked out by what I've read about the 4 hour/140 degree thing.  I'm leaning towards passing this time around since I'm feeding a group of older folks and maybe just trying it next time I smoke a single pork butt.

    Any help is very much appreciated.

    Thanks everyone!

  2. smokingearl

    smokingearl Meat Mopper

    The amount of meat in your smoker shouldn't really affect hours per pound as long as you keep the temp of the smoker up to its cooking temperature. Id prolly figure 2.5 hours per pound and then put them in foil and towels in a cooler if they are done early. They'll stay hot for a couple hours. Better early then late and make everyone wait. I never inject and my butts are always top notch.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  3. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    I would not inject. Keep things simple since it's your first time doing that much meat at once. Going to post a q-view for it?
  4. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    What kind of smoker do you have also Meat thermometers 
  5. I agree not to inject first time out. I just smoked two butts 8 and 9 lbs. Right at 9 hours for them and pulled them at 200 and 195 degrees. Straight to the cooler wrapped for 2 hours because we had to be somewhere. I pulled them that night when we got back and took them to the party the next day. It Fed 20 people and we still had almost half left. More is always better! Leftovers!!! I heated it up in their oven on 200 and sprayed with apple juice sparingly every 20 minutes until warm. About an hour or so. They loved it! Keep it simple with butts! Good rub like Jeffs and you will be the pit boss!
  6. vwaldoguy

    vwaldoguy Smoke Blower

    Good luck!
  7. gary g

    gary g Newbie

    I have a 22" Weber Smokey Mountain. Using lump charcoal and apple wood to smoke. I have a pampered chef digital thermometer. (Some high tech thermometers are on my Xmas list!)
  8. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF Gary!  I would smoke all that pork at 250 -275 until it reaches the IT your shooting for.  I would think 20-22 hrs at the most, pork can be contrary, and wrap them at 165 if you are pressed for time.  I wouldn't inject.  That pork will also need at least an hour to rest after reaching your IT.  Good luck!

  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks so much for offering your experience. This is good info but what Temp was the smoker? This timing would be rare at 225-250°F. Try to give as much detail as possible when offering your much appreciated help...JJ[​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015
  10. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Gary I do not have the Smokey Mountain,I have a mini using KBB I can hold 225* to 260* pretty steady.The last one I did was 9 lbs. took 9hrs. foiled after 5 1/2 hrs. finished at 200* or more I used the tooth pick to probe test.Good Luck I have one I am smoking today going to light the smoker at 6:30

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015
  11. Sorry I was just giving info on time frame you were asking about. The smoker temp was between 240 -275. I just got a new smoker, I'm getting used to controlling the temperature on it. I used pecan and apple with a charcoal bed. I sprayed with apple juice every 45 minutes while on the smoker. I cooked them in pans uncovered the whole way. It spiked a few times but not long. I was trying to say that they don't have to be ready right at dinner time as long as they are done before hand they will be fine. I wouldn't depend on cook time charts! Give yourself plenty of time go with a good thermometer and when it's done it's done! Hope it turns out great!
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks so much for the follow up. This makes things more clear. Those temps are more likely to give the timing you describe. I have not tried Pecan yet but sounds like a good combo...JJ
  13. gary g

    gary g Newbie

    Hi everyone,

    Just checking in!  Put the rub on last night wrapped em in foil and let them sit overnite in the fridge.  They've been out of the fridge about an hour, smokers lit - gettin ready to load it up!

  14. gary g

    gary g Newbie

    This is kinda long - sorry!

    Well - It's Monday!

    The party is over and the smoking portion of my weekend was let's say......challenging!

    (note - all the vents were at 100% for the duration of this smoke)

    Loaded my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker with hardwood lump charcoal around noon on Saturday - 41 degrees outside.  Left a small pocket in the middle of the lump charcoal and lit a chimney of about 20-25 Kingsford Competition briquettes.(all I had left of these from a previous smoke)  Let them get good and glowing hot with a nice grey ash and then dumped them into the middle of the hardwood lump charcoal. Put everything together, filled the water pan with hot water, and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes and it seemed to stabilize at 250.  So far so good.

    Loaded in 3 pork butts and 1 picnic shoulder. Added 4 fist size chunks of apple wood. - temp drops to 225 - 30 min later - dropped to 200 then 180.  I added some more hardwood lump charcoal to see if I could get it hotter. - let it go for about an hour - back up to 200. 

    The wind starts blowing - probably 10-15mph. - well this sucks....

    So.  I pull out some plywood, find some door hinges out in the garage, and proceed to make a windbreak.  I had three pieces of 35"x35" pieced of 3/4 plywood left over from a previous project - perfect!. Hinged it together and made a 3 sided break with it open in the front.

    Loaded another chimney full of briquettes (This time trying som Backyard Grill Brand briquettes from Walmart - they're bigger so I'm hoping they'll last longer) - got em good and hot and added them in.  Back up to 250.  Shielding the wind....Life is good.

    Then is starts to rain.....are you kidding me!!!! - Scramble to get everything covered or out of the rain....

    I propped another piece of plywood so it rested on the handle of the smoker lid and rested on the front of my hi-tech windbreak.  So now the only thing exposed is half 1/2 of the smoker lid.

    half our later - rain stops - okay...onward with the smoke. 

    Stayed at 250 for about the next 8 hours the dropped to 225 at the 10 hour mark, meat temps were all in the low 160's.  Outside temperature was around 36 degrees. - Lit another batch of briquettes and got it back to 250.

    At 1 am - just approaching the 13 hour mark - Smoker temp was hovering around 200. It's damned cold outside! Lit another chimney full of briquettes, added some more hardwood lump, stoked it a bit and BAM - 275! (well alright then-this is good!)

    Meat temps were still in the 160 range, (the 7 pounder hit 171)

    It's now 1:30 am - I'm beat and go to bed. I figure the 275 should hold for a little while and I figured I'd be happy with 200-225 in the morning.

    Got up at 6 am.  It's 32 degrees out and the smoker is at 185. Crap.

    3 of them are in the mid 180's, the small one is now at 195. - Party is at noon.

    I am no longer having fun....I still gotta make baked beans and mac n cheese - no time to mess with the smoker at this point.

    So - rather than try to get the smoker back up to temp, I pulled everything, wrapped them in foil, and put them in the oven at 250.

    At 9:30 - I needed the oven to start the baked beans - they're coming out now! (21 hours later!)

    I didn't check the temps, but as I was lifting them I could feel them start to fall apart in the foil.  - Wrapped each one in another layer of foil and a bath towel. 

    Don't have a cooler right now - (don't ask!)

    So, I made a make shift cooler out of a big rubbermaid container.

    Loaded em all in - everything wrapped and snug, ready to go!

    12:30 - party time.

    My oldest son (who has worked several seasons with a competition BBQ team), pulls the first one out - unwraps it and it's still to hot to handle. (so the make shift cooler worked!)

    Bone pulls right out - and it shreds up nice.  The boy says it's good (not competition bbq good mind you, but good).  Son #2 comes in - he did 1 season with the same competition BBQ team - says its good (not competition bbq good mind you, but good). Okay - I'm happy with that.

    He pulled 3 of the 4 - panned them up and got them out on the warmers. 

    25 People show up - we only use 1 pan! (Yay - left overs) - why the hell I thought I needed 4 I'm not sure now!

    Got a lot of compliments on the pork from the party guests - happy about that!

    Gave each of the boys a pan to take home (now it's not competition bbq good, but when you're a single mid 20 something sharing a house with a bunch of guys with no money, all of a sudden it tastes real good!)

    Kept the 4th one for myself.  Pulled it last night, made some more sandwiches, and froze the rest.

    In bed by 9:30pm. (that never happens!)

    Some observations.....

    With the up and down temps, the bark was pretty weak. (I love a good bark!)

    Very little liquid in the pan when we pulled it - everything was for the most part pretty moist (although my wife thought it was dry - she's really not a fan of smoked meat to begin with)

    On the picnic shoulder - I cut the skin off this time - in the past I left it on and scored it and then took it off at the end.  Not sure what kind of affect this has on the cooking process.

    Wasn't exactly blown away by the rub I made this time.  I've been trying different recipes. (I should really find one and stick to it!!)

    Also, I didn't inject - and I didn't baste. - I kind of missed having a little sweetness. 

    Another non-meat related observation -

    I thought just to give folks some variety - I put out several different sauces.

    Jack Daniels - Original

    Bullseye - Original

    Sweet Baby Rays - Original

    Sweet Baby Rays - honey

    Darned near everyone there (except 1 or 2) used Sweet Baby Rays original! - interesting....

    What sauces do you folks like???

    Me personally, I like sweeter Kansas City style sauce.  I'm not much on Vinegar based sauces.

    I'd like to come up with my own one of these days -

    Just need a good sauce recipe to use as a starting point and tweak from there.

    All in all, the party was a success, no one left hungry - and we have a ton of leftovers!

    Thanks for everyone's advice! 

    It's great to be a part of this community!

    Until next time....

    mike5051 likes this.
  15. Wow!, thats some trouble there! But sounds like a success overall! Glad to hear the meat came out ok. I would bet you learned alot along the way on this one.  I seem to pick something up everytime I fire up the smoker. I like jeffs bbq sauce recipe. A little sweet, a little spicy. I have changed it to my taste a little but a very good starting point for sure. Check it out if you havent yet!
  16. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well done Gary!  [​IMG]

  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Here is my KC Masterpiece Clone. Good stuff and since you add your rub, it will have the flavors you like...JJ

    KC Bubba Q Juice

    2C Ketchup

    1/2C Brown Mustard (Gulden's)

    1/4C Apple Cider Vinegar

    1/2C Molasses

    2C Dark Brn Sugar

    1T Tomato Paste

    1T Your Rub

    1-2tsp Liquid Smoke

    1tsp Worcestershire Sauce

    Combine all and warm over low heat just until it starts to bubble. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, to combine flavors and to thicken slightly.

    Use or pour into a sterile jar and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

    Makes 3 1/2 Cups.
  18. ohiojason

    ohiojason Newbie

    Sounds great! I've been making Jeff'a sauce for years now but started buying KC Masterpiece lately to switch things up. I'll have to give that a try
  19. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bah Humbug..... give the guy the good stuff JJ. It is Chef JJ's Finishing sauce. You'll throw rocks are bottles of BBQ sauce after ya try it. It ever so slightly seasons the pulled pork while allowing you to replenish the moisture lost. ZOWIE, its good stuff Maynard!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
  20. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    OK Foam, twist my arm!...JJ[​IMG]

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses

    Optional: 2T Apple Cider Vinegar. Add 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more of a KC Glaze.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork:  Make a Double batch, skip the Butter.

    If you plan to Foil the meat, add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

    Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

    At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

    Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten, the meat should be shiny and juicy but not swimming in sauce. Serve while hot...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

    If you choose to Not Foil or Pan the Butt. Add the Finishing Sauce to the pulled meat before serving. Add the hot Finishing Sauce a little at a time until the Pork is moistened, again the meat should be shiny but not swimming in sauce.

    When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.

    I was AMAZED...No additional sauce needed. ENJOY...JJ

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