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Help me with my first pork butt?

reformedvegan

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First time with a real long cook on a big piece of meat.

I got a 9 lb. pork butt at the store yesterday. I'm planning to serve it at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.
I plan to cook this on my Pit Boss 700s.
My understanding is:
  1. mustard and cover w/rub
  2. let rest in fridge for 12 hours
  3. fill pellet cooker w/competition blend and set to 225F
  4. take butt from fridge and place fat side down directly on cooker grates
  5. cook to a certain point (?) before inserting probe for internal bacterial safety
  6. insert probe and cook to 165F
  7. remove, wrap in heavy duty foil, place in pan and put it back in the cooker
  8. at 205F, remove from cooker, wrap in towels and place in a cooler
  9. wait 30 min to 1 hour before shredding and serving
Here are my questions:

  1. What am I missing above and what have I got wrong?
  2. trim fat, or not? Fat side down or not?
  3. directly on grates to start, or cover grates with foil to start, or start in a pan?
  4. use my 12" AMZN tube in the cooker or not? How full to fill this?
  5. how long to cook before inserting probe into meat to make sure I don't overshoot 165F
  6. what about braising liquid or basting spray, what to use, when, and how often?
  7. how much foil to use when wrapping, and how to wrap?
Here is the rub I will be using: may have to double recipe for this. Any suggestions for changes?
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Thanks in advance for your input!

~ Jon
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noboundaries

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Plan looks solid. Hold on. Hit wrong button.

Quick answers.

At 225F a 9 lb butt will take around 3 - 5 hours to hit the stall. Probe at 4 hours and watch the temp for an hour to see what it does. Or, you could just wrap it at the 4 hour point.

I used to use apple cider when I wrapped. Double wrap in HD foil.

Once wrapped, 225F chamber temp doesn't matter. Bump it up to 275-300F to power through the stall and finish more quickly. Just insert the probe through the foil.

Don't discard the jus. Separate the fat from the jus and add the jus back to the meat.

I let butts rest at least an hour or more. 30 mins is pretty quick and the meat will be really hot to pull, but it will work.
 
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reformedvegan

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Quick answers.

At 225F a 9 lb butt will take around 3 - 5 hours to hit the stall. Probe at 4 hours and watch the temp for an hour to see what it does. Or, you could just wrap it at the 4 hour point.
Okay, about 4 hours is what I was figuring. When should I have this started to be sure we are ready to eat tomorrow at 5:30 pm Pacific Time?

I used to use apple cider when I wrapped. Double wrap in HD foil.
Darn, I just got back from buying HD foil, ad forgot get any cider or apple juice? Any thing else can be used for added liquid or for spraying? We have apple cider vinegar, beer, wine, ginger beer, bourbon...

Once wrapped, 225F chamber temp doesn't matter. Bump it up to 275-300F to power through the stall and finish more quickly. Just insert the probe through the foil.
Okay, sounds good, my main concern with bumping up the temp is making the grates hard to clean afterward. Willing to do this though, if it means I don't have to start the cook in the middle of the night. Advice?

Don't discard the jus. Separate the fat from the jus and add the jus back to the meat.
Yes, of course!

I let butts rest at least an hour or more. 30 mins is pretty quick and the meat will be really hot to pull
Good point! I prefer to get my hands in there when I pull. I don't want it to be too hot. I will plan on one hour at least for resting. When will I need to start this?

Thanks!

~ Jon
 

reformedvegan

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Okay, I've got the rub in and it's back in the fridge.

I mis-stated my rub recipe above. Its actually 1 T. of freeze-dried onion ground in a coffee grinder, so makes maybe 2 tsp. onion powder. I also decided to add 1/2 tsp. garlic powder for good measure, so it should be:
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. sweet paprika
  • 1 ample T. of freeze-dried onion
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
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noboundaries

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Since you are smoking against the clock, and you are going to wrap the butt, you could throw it on the pellet smoker tonight at 225F, say 10 or 11 PM. Don't sweat the 4 hours. Wake up at 6 AM, wrap the butt with 8 oz of ginger beer or a soft drink, then crank up the heat to 300F. It should finish between 1-3 PM. Don't unwrap the butt. Just set it in your cooler. It'll keep no problem until you're ready to pull it apart and serve it.

It's always better to finish early than have hungry people standing around with their dishes saying, "Is it done yet?"

And if you have an ornery butt that is taking its time, crank the heat higher to finish. Butts don't care about cooking temp.
 
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reformedvegan

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Since you are smoking against the clock, and you are going to wrap the butt, you could throw it on the pellet smoker tonight at 225F, say 10 or 11 PM. Don't sweat the 4 hours. Wake up at 6 AM, wrap the butt with 8 oz of ginger beer or a soft drink, then crank up the heat to 300F. It should finish between 1-3 PM. Don't unwrap the butt. Just set it in your cooler. It'll keep no problem until you're ready to pull it apart and serve it.

It's always better to finish early than have hungry people standing around with their dishes saying, "Is it done yet?"

And if you have an ornery butt that is taking its time, crank the heat higher to finish. Butts don't care about cooking temp.
Thanks for all your advice putting the butt on the cooker at 10 or 11 tonight is exactly what I was planning, so it's good to have an expert confirm that I am on the right track.

I'm now reading about wrapping vs. not wrapping the butt. I'd like to have a nice bark, but don't want to risk drying out the meat. As a novice, is wrapping it part way through the cook more fool-proof? If wrapped at 165F, is it best to just wrap it tight in foil, or should it be placed in the tray and the tray covered with foil? Also, I've read some people say that they open the foil for 30 minutes or so near the end of the cook to crisp up the bark again. Is this a good option?

- Jon
 

noboundaries

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Wrapping and good bark is the unicorn of pulled pork. You could wait to wrap when the IT is 180F. You get a firmer bark, but not like unwrapped from beginning to end. Wrapping is more fool-proof and it speeds things along.

First butt, stick to your plan and don't sweat the bark. It will still be the best pulled pork your guests will have ever eaten, unless they are meat smokers themselves. Since you're in Pacific time, like me, they're probably not meat smokers. We're pretty rare out here.
 

noboundaries

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And you have a misconception of drying out the meat. An underdone butt will be dry and tough. An overcooked butt will be mushy tender but juicy and delicious. Butts get their juiciness from melted collagen proteins, not water or liquids in the meat.

Don't overthink the butt. You can literally thrown a naked butt on a smoker and walk away until it is probe tender, like butter. It will still be delicious, tender, and juicy.
 

reformedvegan

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Wrapping and good bark is the unicorn of pulled pork. You could wait to wrap when the IT is 180F. You get a firmer bark, but not like unwrapped from beginning to end. Wrapping is more fool-proof and it speeds things along.

First butt, stick to your plan and don't sweat the bark. It will still be the best pulled pork your guests will have ever eaten, unless they are meat smokers themselves. Since you're in Pacific time, like me, they're probably not meat smokers. We're pretty rare out here.
Well, since I am surely still a "fool" when it comes to pork butts, I'll go with the fool-proof option. I'm sure you are correct. I actually know quite a number of meat smoking enthusiasts around here. However, none of them participate in these forums, at least not to my knowledge, also the folks I know are at least 50% Persons of Color, and the demographic of these forums seem to skew the other way. Still, I have never lived in Dallas or Kansas City or Charlotte, so density of enthusiasm per population may not be very high in comparison. It is actually very easy to find very high quality barbecue here in Oakland. I miss a good Carolina-style though, which is nowhere to be found. Style around here seems to mainly be a southern style rather than Texas or East Coast style.
 

noboundaries

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Then don't forget a good finishing sauce. Chef JJ's is a good one. I always have some in the fridge for the PP I have in the freezer.

Tangy Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

This is more of an Eastern North Carolina style Finishing Sauce. The source is Chef JJ on SMF.

Ingredients
2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste
1/4C Brown Sugar or Sugar Substitute.
1T Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Granulated Garlic
2 tsp Granulated Onion
2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flake. Add more if you like Heat.
1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

Directions
Combine all and whisk well. This is a thin sauce, bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Adjust sweetness by adding Brn Sugar or additional Vinegar as desired...Makes about 2 Cups.
 

reformedvegan

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Then don't forget a good finishing sauce. Chef JJ's is a good one. I always have some in the fridge for the PP I have in the freezer.

Tangy Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

This is more of an Eastern North Carolina style Finishing Sauce. The source is Chef JJ on SMF.

Ingredients
2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste
1/4C Brown Sugar or Sugar Substitute.
1T Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Granulated Garlic
2 tsp Granulated Onion
2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flake. Add more if you like Heat.
1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

Directions
Combine all and whisk well. This is a thin sauce, bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Adjust sweetness by adding Brn Sugar or additional Vinegar as desired...Makes about 2 Cups.
This sounds *exactly* like what I have been missing! Thank you!
 

reformedvegan

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So, it is wrapped in pan. I decided to added 1/2 cup of 50/50 apple cider vinegar/water blend to the pan. I was a dumb-dumb and stuck the temperature probe directly through the foil rather than running it along the edge of the pan and crimping the foil around it.

I stuck in the probe until I hit the bone, then pulled it back about an inch. My plan it to pull it at 205, add another layer of foil, and rest the whole thing, wrapped in towels, in a cooler until our guests arrive.

Temperature is already 184F at 7:51am, there has been no sign of a stall, so it must have made it through the stall last night while I was sleeping? Based on the ThermoPro, the cooker seems to be averaging about 15F over the temp (225F) I set, but my unit does not have a data logging function. I am starting to really want one of those units that can create a plot of temperature over time so I can see what the real average coking temperature is.

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reformedvegan

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Well, it's 9:00 a.m., and it's already resting in the cooler, all spots in the butt registering between 206F and 210F.

Can it hold like this until 5 p.m.?
 

noboundaries

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Okay, you've got the temp where you want it. What did it feel like when you probed for temp. Resistance? Or warm butter?

Here's a couple of options for holding it until 5PM. If your cooler has room, boil some water, fill a pitcher with it, and place the pitcher in the cooler for a gentle source of heat. Replace the water a couple of times during the day. Or, you can keep the butt wrapped and put it in the oven set for 140-150F. If your oven doesn't go that low, say 170F, just turn off the oven once it hits that temp, and turn it back on every half hour to an hour.
 

reformedvegan

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Okay, you've got the temp where you want it. What did it feel like when you probed for temp. Resistance? Or warm butter?
I would say closer to warm butter. The probe slid in easily, but there was a very gentle, even resistance all the way through. There seemed to be a bit of springiness to the texture too, as if I were to stop pushing the probe in, the meat would want to push it back out a fraction millimeter or so, or put another way, i got the sense that if I were to leave the probe in the meat, and flick it with my finger, it might vibrate slightly.

Oh, here it is! I'd say it felt more like pushing the probe into a giant Jello-O Jigglers, rather than a mass of warm butter.
 

jasinil2006

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It can easily rest until 5. You also can keep it in a 150 oven, tightly wrapped; that will be about the same as the cooler. I’ve done it both ways, and they both were pretty much the same.
 

reformedvegan

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Thanks, jasinil2006 jasinil2006 , noboundaries noboundaries , I figure I will check the temp with a sterile probe a couple hours before guests arrive. If it looks like it's dropped too far, I will place in oven. When I think about it, meat was sealed and placed in cooler at over 200F, so should be absolutely sterile, with no chance of any danger, even if it cools into the "danger zone" for a while.
 
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reformedvegan

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noboundaries noboundaries and others: please forgive my lack of follow-up! It was received well by my guests, one of whom is an Alabamian, and something of a BBQ connesuer. While not a BBQer himself, his wife tells me that she is dragged to a variety of BBQ spots when visiting his folks back home, because each establishment is the "best" at only one thing - brisket, pork, etc.

Personally, I think some of the meat was a bit overcooked and mushy, and the smoke flavor wasn't as prominent as I hoped. The Carolina style sauce was a hit. I omitted the celery salt, which I didn't have, using applewood smoked salt in its place, and i added a tablespoon of ketchup too (so more of a Western Carolina style in the end).

Next time I am wondering if I can do my butt in a tray, uncovered the whole time? Since my cooker seems to be running a bit hot, I think I lost a lot of flavorful juices to the grease tray. I'm hoping cooking in a tray will retain my juices. Also, the aluminum foil corroded away where it was in contact with the probe and the meat - I am assuming this is due to galvanic corrosion since my tray is stainless steel. I love these trays! They are a set of two in different sizes, so next time would like to keep using the same tray but avoid the wrap partway through the cook. As it was, the butt was only overfed with foil for about 1.5 hours before it hit 205⁰F, and was still plenty moist. Is smoking in a pan/tray, and doing it uncovered a thing that is acceptable practice?

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