• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Help My Butt!

BrownRooster

Newbie
8
0
Joined Jan 8, 2019
I am historically NOT a fan of BBQ pork. Raised in Texas and NM, ranchers taught me that pork was for breakfast. I am trying to learn to like it and am trying to learn to do it well.

I apparently screwed up. And need to know what I did wrong. I see all of these pull pork videos online and the talk about how the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and how easily it shreds just by pushing into it, etc. Mine don't, to say the least. So, this will be long, but I want to describe everything so you can help me find my errors. I really do want to make good pulled pork.

So, my local meat purveyor had twin packs of butts on sale, I grabbed two and headed home. I froze them till I could use them. It took about a month till I had the time. I defrosted them in the sink, using cool water and changing it out every 45 minutes till thawed. Once thawed, I had seen numerous videos suggesting a brine. I had never brined before, I usually just dry rub my beef cuts and country ribs. I decided to try two different brines.

Brine 1: Basic apple cider based brine with kosher salt and other seasonings I found online.

Brine 2: One of my own creation, I really like the flavor of carnitas so I went for that flavor profile using lime Juice, a touch of vinegar and Hatch Green Chiles with Kosher salt as my primary ingredients. I Brined both overnight.

The Smoke: I have a Barrel type offset smoker (Old Country brand, I believe). I used generic charcoal as my base fire because it is easy to start. Then I used Mesquite to begin transitioning my fire to a wood fire for the smoke/cook. I use mesquite primarily for heat...it seems to burn hotter, but I don't really like the flavor. Once my fire was established I transitioned to pecan because that is one of my fave smoke flavors.

Air Temp was about 58 when I began, warming to 68 or so by mid-late afternoon. Negligible humidity but 40 mph winds, at least 25-30 in my back yard near my fence.

I put the meat on at 150 degrees, assuming it would rise. That ended up being a wrestling match all day. It seems I could never get the temp above 150 no matter how many or what type of wood I added to the fire-box, even charcoal. This is unusual for this smoker.
After about 5 or so hours I finally got the temp to right at 200. this is where i generally smoke most of my meats with generally good success.

It stayed this way for about 9 hours (until I went to bed). I let the meat continue in the grill unattended till morning as my box tends to hold heat pretty well.

In the morning, I checked things. Color and taste on bark were great (had to sample, right). But as I pushed into to it, there was very little, if any give. It definitely did not try to fall apart when I picked it up to place on the platter.

I didn't understand why after cooking for so long even if the first 5 were cooler than I would have preferred. I did not have time to restart a fire and deal with that. So I figured if it was undercooked, i would try to finish in the oven.

I tented it, placed in over and cooked at 200 degrees for another 4 hours. When I removed it and it had cooled, it still was not the image of tenderness I had seen.

Butt 1: is now in a pot of reserved brine and green chiles, stewing a bit before it finds its way to a tortilla...( i gave up on trying to pull it and just chopped it)

Butt 2: is now back in the oven at 205 degrees to see if I can get more fat to render and get the meat more tender.

the two pics are of a cross-section of Butt 1: as I was chopping it for the pot and Butt 2 as it looked after settling back to room temp, before placing into oven for 2nd time. just wanted you to see how the exterior looked.

Any guidance would be appreciated. Help this pork-smoking newb. I know it can be better than this.

BUTT2.jpg BUTT 1.jpg
 

oddegan

Smoking Fanatic
703
374
Joined Mar 27, 2017
Way under cooked. Can tell just looking at the cross section. Trying to smoke in that kind of wind is tough and makes it very difficult to hold heat. The key is to cook to an internal temp of around 205 give or take .Cannot recommend strongly enough to get a good thermo.
 

pit of despair

Meat Mopper
269
88
Joined May 18, 2011
Brown Rooster,
At first glance it looks like you have 2 hams not Boston Butts(pork shoulder). Maybe someone with butchering background can help out.

Keep trying...
Teddy
 

bregent

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,445
448
Joined Mar 1, 2014
I can't tell exactly how long you cooked it and you don't mention the weight. For me, a 8-9lb butt can take 14 hours in a 235F pellet grill. Given the struggle you had with temps, and the low temps you finished cooking at, I wouldn't be surprised if it would take 24 hours to get tender enough. What was the total cook time? Next time, try cooking it at 225F and make sure your fire is right before putting the meat on.
 

hardcookin

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
2,210
677
Joined Aug 13, 2015
I always like to smoke butts around 275-300. It's done when the bone pulls out.
Just done some last week and posted.



Edit: usually 200-210 is when the bone pulls out. Just check for bone wiggle.
Any questions just ask.
 
Last edited:

chopsaw

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
5,872
2,589
Joined Dec 14, 2013
I defrosted them in the sink, using cool water and changing it out every 45 minutes till thawed.
Sure it was thawed in the middle ? I just did one , took 3 days in the fridge , and it was still semi frozen next to the bone .
For starters , I would skip the brine . I also like the higher smoke temp 275 . Let it run til it's done . Temp around 205 , you're getting close . I don't rest , I bring it in , pull it and poor any drippings back on the meat .
 

BrownRooster

Newbie
8
0
Joined Jan 8, 2019
O.. thank you for the tip! I am trying to get get this. Will purchase thermometer today. Do you use a leave in, or one that you take and check each time?
What sort of impact do thermometer holes have on moisture loss?
 

BrownRooster

Newbie
8
0
Joined Jan 8, 2019
hardcookin hardcookin how long does it takes at temps that high. Looks like your rig is an offset. Do you push it to the back away from the opening to keep that much heat form hitting it dead on or does it matter?

chopsaw chopsaw - I normally don't brine anything, but so many said to I thought I would try it? if you don't brine, do you rub or marinade? thanks.
 

chopsaw

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
5,872
2,589
Joined Dec 14, 2013
chopsaw chopsaw - I normally don't brine anything, but so many said to I thought I would try it? if you don't brine, do you rub or marinade? thanks.
Well , I say starting out do it without so you know how it comes out with no brine . Get that figured out and try brining so you can tell the difference .

This last one I did , took it out of the package , patted dry , salt and pepper . Smoked fat cap up no trim . I sprinkle the rub we like after it's pulled . Sometimes I pack brown sugar on the outside . When your lips and fingers stick together from the collagen , you know it's good . Lots of ways to do it . I like simple .
 

bregent

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,445
448
Joined Mar 1, 2014
Many of us use remote leave in thermometers, but use this only as a way to check progress. As kruizer suggested, use tenderness, not temperature, to determine when it's done.
 

BrownRooster

Newbie
8
0
Joined Jan 8, 2019
Many of us use remote leave in thermometers, but use this only as a way to check progress. As kruizer suggested, use tenderness, not temperature, to determine when it's done.
any particular brand you recommend for leave in? I like the remote idea. Btw way...I know brisket has a "stall" do butts have the same or similar thing?
 

bregent

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,445
448
Joined Mar 1, 2014
>any particular brand you recommend for
>leave in? I like the remote idea.

For a remote therm, you need to decide how many probes you need and if you want one with a dedicated receiver, or one that uses bluetooth and your mobile device to display temps (or both). For bluetooth/mobile devices, folks here like the Inkbird, but there are many similar devices branded differently. For dedicated receiver, Maverick and Thermopro are popular. For a little bit more, I think Thermoworks Smoke is a better option - much better build quality than the others.

>Btw way...I know brisket has a "stall" do
>butts have the same or similar thing?

Oh yeah, it sure does. You can wrap to reduce stall time. Cooking at a higher temp also can help.
 

GaryHibbert

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
7,855
1,190
Joined Jun 20, 2013
Yep. Not much question but what your pork was underdone.
Everybody has their own way to cook a butt. Personally, I cook at about 240 and then foil when the stall hits. That saves time, but it will make the bark soft. I don't particularly like hard bark, so that works for me. When the IT hits 205, I check for tenderness by probing (probe should slide in like going into soft butter) and by bone wiggle.
I use a Smoke remote digital therm (pricey, but very accurate) and also a Weber Instant Read therm (cheap at Home Depot).
Hope this helps. If not, just ask more questions.
Gary
 

radio

Master of the Pit
1,074
393
Joined Jul 28, 2013
My guess is in that kind of wind the smoker was not drawing, which could be complicated by any gaps around the cooking chamber door. Always try to position it where a building is blocking the wind as much as possible. If no windbreak is available, at least turn the smoker with the firebox to the wind to help create a positive draft.
Many times while smoking in my offset, a breeze has sprung up and I have seen smoke coming out of the firebox intake instead of the chimney! A small fire just can't provide enough draft to overcome the winds going in the chimney and possibly the cracks around the lid unless those are well sealed. My stick burners loaf along at 275° without much fuss, so that is where I run them instead of constantly trying to manage temps Putting the meat in at 150° and the smoker taking 5 hours to hit 200° combined with leaving it in a stick burner overnight without stoking the fire would cause me to toss the meat for fear of getting sick
 

oddegan

Smoking Fanatic
703
374
Joined Mar 27, 2017
I should have said start probing at 205. When the probe just slides in I like to pull it from the smoker, wrap it and let it rest in a cooler for at least 2 hours.
 

hardcookin

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
2,210
677
Joined Aug 13, 2015
hardcookin hardcookin how long does it takes at temps that high. Looks like your rig is an offset. Do you push it to the back away from the opening to keep that much heat form hitting it dead on or does it matter?

chopsaw chopsaw - I normally don't brine anything, but so many said to I thought I would try it? if you don't brine, do you rub or marinade? thanks.
My rig can hold about 35 butts. So room isn't really an issue. Usually smoke them on my top shelf.
I usually pan at 170 and pull when I have good bone wiggle. Usually about 7.5 hours for 8.5lb pork butt.
 

ab canuck

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
2,997
563
Joined Nov 20, 2016
Brown rooster, I have had a few different cooks happen, I bought a 2 pack rubbed and put on to do PP. I did them at 250, cooked to IT of 206-207 . Always by IT, You can leave in your thermo from the start or put in later on during the smoke. My first one was done 8-9 hrs, the second one took another 6 ish hrs. it was 14-15 hrs when it finally finished. They vary in times, I usually have them done within a couple hrs of each other. A good thermo is good thing to have.
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
18,528
2,936
Joined May 12, 2011
IF you maintained 200°F the entire time, you didn't from the start and not likely during the hours you slept, those Butts would have taken at least 2.5 hours per pound to get to an IT of 205. For an average 8 pound Butt, that is 20 hours minimum. With temps you experienced, you would need to be smoking 30 hours easy.
You got a lot of suggestions above. I suggest you use ALL OF THEM. This way you have more than one tool in you smoking kit. Figure an average time to 205 per pound. 2.5 hours per pound at 200, 2 hours per at 225-250, 1.5 hours per at 250-275 and 1 hour per at 300-325. Next, when the meat IT gets to 200°F, start probing for tenderness. When the Probe slides in, with no resistance, you are good to go. Last wiggle the bone, should nearly fall out.
At this point the meat is Done. A 30 minutes rest, on the counter is all you need, then pull it and serve. There no reason to cooler rest meat that is done, unless you need to transport it or it finished early and you are not ready to eat. Putting meat that is Done in a cooler for a couple of hours don't make it Better Done. I just continues to cook and break down more, getting softer even mushy the longer it sits...JJ

.
 

bregent

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,445
448
Joined Mar 1, 2014
I would just add that if you do prefer to cook at 200, then start testing for tenderness at temps lower than what has been suggested. The lower the cooking temp, the lower the final IT will be when it reaches tenderness. I cooked a butt at 200 last year and it finished at 186F.
 

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.