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Here Piggy-Piggy Brine, Hawg Heaven Rub: 2 Butts, Recipes, Q-view (#1 sliced, #2 pulled)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by forluvofsmoke, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey-hey, smoke lovers!

    I had a slight delema with my "steak ready" pork butts which I started thawing on 04-14-11. I popped them into the fridge in hopes that they would be thawed enough to smoke on my last days-off work, however, they weren't quite ready until late in the afternoon on Tuesday (04-19-11), and I had work the next day. So, I worked for 2 days while the butts were nearly completely thawed, and by this time, I'm thinking I need to do something with the pork or loose it (non-enhanced pork). On the evening of 04-21-11, I whipped up a brine for them to soak in for the remaining ~48 hours until I would be able to smoke 'em up. Last night I conjured up a new dry rub, which is based on my three favorite flavor sensations: apple, cherry and red bell pepper...they're all great in duo combinations, I figured I'd make a full-blown trio and see where it takes my brined butts.

    All that, and after my last q-view, I thought I was gonna slow down...[​IMG]...go figure...must have something to do with giving back to the roots of my smoking success here on SMF. With that, here goes another journey!

    The butts hit the brine @ 11:00 pm on the 21st, and are hitting the smoke for Easter Sunday for sliced with one and pulled pork for the freezer with the second butt.


    ***for 2 pork butts, approx 16lbs in a 5 gallon covered bucket***

    2 qts water in saucepan

    1/4 cup celery salt

    1 cup sea salt

    4 Tbls diced dried red bell pepper

    2 Tbls rosemary

    6 Tbls light brown sugar

    1/2 Tbls cumin

    2 Tbls chili powder

    2 Tbls cayenne pepper

    1 tsp cinnamon

    2 tsp thyme

    1 tsp marjoram

    1 tsp fennel seed

    1 tsp sage

    4 qts ice water (mix into brine solution after removed from heat and partially cooled)

    The brine is chilling with ice:



    Two butts in a 5-gallon food-grade pail with the fat caps against each other...not sure about this, but my theory is that if the fat is
    touching instead of the meat, the brine may penetrate more. It seems that fat slows everything down (smoke, cure, brine, marinates), so I figured by keeping the meat surfaces away from each other, there would be more meat surface exposed to the brine solution, thereby providing the most penetration. My reason for using 1 large bucket for both butts is that my smaller containers suitable for brining are only 6qt...just big enough for an average yard bird, but not big enough for a single butt:



    6qts of brine was perfect for this bucket with the size of the butts...they're submerged about 1 to 1-1/4" below the surface:



    ***for approx 15-16lbs of brined pork butts***

    4 Tbls ground apple

    4 Tbls ground red bell pepper

    3 Tbls ground tart cherry

    1 Tbls ground rosemary

    2 tsp ground oregano

    2 tsp thyme

    1 Tbls onion powder

    1 tsp cumin

    1 tsp ground sage

    1 tsp chili powder

    1 Tbls spanish paprika

    1.5 Tbls gound black peppercorn

    1.5 Tbls garlic

    ***makes approx 1 cup after a triple-grind***

    note: if using for non-brined pork, add salt as desired

    I forgot to grab the camera when I did it, but I poured the brine back into my 6qt food container before dumping it. It appeared to be just short of a 1/2 quart of water missing from the total volume of liquids, so those little piggies were pretty thirsty.

    Rinsed and ready for the rub...you can see a couple small spots which have a slight pink colo to them...this is where the meat was touching the bucket, so there's definitely a big difference:





    Into the Smoke Vault 24 @ 225* for a long night's ride through the thin blue smoke:



    Since I have apple and cherry based flavor profiles, I opted for those smoke woods as well. If there were red bell pepper wood, I'd probably be using it, too...LOL!!! TBS just getting started...apple on the left, cherry taking center, with pecan on the right, just because I love the pungent aroma of this wood so much. I've used these three woods in duo and trio combos alot lately, and can't seem to find anything I don't like them with (within reason):



    Smoke is on @ 11:15 pm mountain time...just wanted to get this up and started for now, so my friends don't miss out on recipes or any of the action later.

    I didn't get to weigh these (broke my high-capacity scale on the last smoke) and they're from a twin-pack case-purchase (un-labeled), but the biggest looks and feels like almost 9lb and smallest about 7lb. I'll probably be slicing the bigger one for Easther dinner and poulling the smallest, but we'll see how they come out. Hmm, I just realized it...I've never sliced a butt, after all these years, I've been pulling my butts and picnics.

    Temp probing in the morning when I crawl out of bed...yep, I learned how to sleep during all-nighters, just like the UDS boys do it.

    See ya Sunday with the finished pics and brine/rub reviews! Thanks for checking out my latest creation!

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
    mountainhawg and dukeburger like this.
  2. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Great start eric . I always enjoy your smoking adventures........[​IMG]
  3. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Always look forward to your threads Eric. Can't wait to see the finish of this one.
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Ditto to what Al said!

    Now move over Al, and give an Old Bear a seat !

    Want some of my popcorn?


  5. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well Eric, I've never brined a butt, so I'm interested in seeing how this turns out.  I'm quite sure it will be great, especially with the Hawg rub.  Looking forward to the finished pics.
  6. fife

    fife Master of the Pit

    [​IMG]Keep them coming
  7. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks fellas! Man, I can hardly wait to taste this combination. I know the butts took on alot of brine, and with the dry rub, it should be a killer match-up.

    9.5 hours in, and all is well...I grabbed a couple quick shots for everyone's drooling pleasures before checking temps. This dry rub is slowly carmelizing from the natural sugars in the ground apple/cherry...should be a great color when it's finished.

    The big pig is @ 157*, and the smaller one's @ 160*:




    Temps will determine which one will get sliced for dinner today and which will get pulled for the freezer, and I think the larger of the two will be for dinner. The way I see it shaking out, the small one will be above 180* by 4:00 pm when I'll want to wrap and rest the slicing subject (I want to slice thick and still be tender), while the larger one should be through it's stall(s) and coming in closer to my desired temp by then. I won't foil either one to bring to finish temps if I can help it...we love the bark on butts since the first one I tried this way, and no foiling will keep the temp-rise at a pretty slow pace. We'll see what happens, as I've been wrong before...nothin' like a big 'ol hunka meat to throw a wrench in yer gears...about the time ya think you've got 'em figured out, they prove ya wrong...LOL!!!

    Oh, I forgot to mention a couple things which some of you probably noticed already, but, these are bone-in butts, and when preparing to rub, I scored the fat cap and layed fat-cap up in the smoker for self basting. There wasn't alot of cap on these so it should have some nice crispy spots...love the crisp bits of fat in pulled pork, or on a sliced piece of meat for that matter.

    OK, time to shut my pie-hole, 'cause all this writing is making me hungry with the anticipation of sampling my latest creation! LOL!!!

    More to come!

  8. kingkoch42

    kingkoch42 Smoke Blower

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  9. Eric looking fantastic again. Your detailed threads with complete processes help make us all better smokers...Thank You. [​IMG]
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Makin' you hungry?!?!?!

    What the Heck do you think you do to all of us, who just get to watch from a thousand miles away???????

    I want to see those slices. I have never sliced a butt (as yet) either!

    Zoom one in, so I can feel like I fell down & I'm crawling around through the juices on the slices!

    Do you think I need help?

  11. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I always pull mine too. Looking forward to the sliced pics as well.
  12. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Those are starting to look awful good Eric...
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've brined a few butts before, though a few of them were already enhanced...benefits to brining in that case wasn't that noticable. I have had the opportunity to smoke a fresh butt without brining, and one or two with brine and there is a big difference in finished product...un-brined didn't want to pull very easily and seemed just a tad on the dry side. Oh, and brined pork chops? Ever try that number? Definitely worth the effort...we love 'em!

    Thanks, hey I don't know if I can make anyone be a better smoker or not...gotta have the desire to do well at anything, or it won't happen...main thing is, if you get some inspiration to try something new, then your interest is already captured, and you'll do whatever it takes to make it come together. I do like to give a few extra details to help take the edge off for those who may be on the fence...give 'em a little nudge so to speak, and once they take that first step, they're on their way down the road to success.

    I'm not shy about sharing my successes here with all my friends...even those which the outcome has yet to be determined, as is the case here...experimental brine, experimental rub. The thing is, I haven't had but just a handful of flops in the past couple years...I owe that to many other members here at SMF. So, I give back to those who inspired me to become who I am today in my outdoor kitchen. And so, the cycle continues...

    Ha-ha-ha!!! Yea, the sliced, man, I gotta try it. You want me to pull it in close like I did with the pastrami, I take it. So you cvan see the individual meat fibers and pockets of fat...almost microscope details. OK, well, maybe I shouldn't have merntioned that...I'll try though...gotta clean my camera lens for sure to get that tight of shots.

    Need help? Ah, maybe, but that's why we all hang out here...LOL!!!!!!!


  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like the smaller butt will go under the knife for our dinner tonight afterall, as it was 174* a few minutes before I peeked, and just hit 175* @ 16 hrs in. The biggest one's @ 169*, so it'll never make 180* in less than 2 hours, so he get's pulled.

    The bark color is turning a nice deep brown now, and the bones are showing much more now...cookin' right along::



    I need to order another digital probe...my last of 3 Acurite brand has finally had it's probe cable damaged, and my newest one in use today is the only one remaining in my aresenal. Two would have been nice for today, but not really a must...I know the bigest butt will probably be a midnight run...funny thing is, I started this smoke at 11:15 pm last night...ah, ya gotta love a good, long smoke now and then, right?

    Here's a little Easter story for ya...

    My oldest daugther loaded and hid all the plastic eggs for our youngest of the clan to find. She put a rock with a band-aid still in the wrapper into one egg, with an inscription on the band-aid reading: this is for the burn...

    Ah, she wasn't too mean...only one out of 36 that was a "rotten egg".


    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  15. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    Looks great! Can't wait to see the finished pics. Another great post from the mad scientist of smoke!!!
  16. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man... those look good! Now I got just one question..... how do you "grind" cherrys and apples?
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Man, who would have thought...the small butt rode it out for 18.25 hours until I yanked it to foil/wrap/rest @ 181*. The bigger one was still rolling with an I/T of 176* @ 18.5 hours in...it maybe pushing 22-23 hours plus before it comes out @ 200* to rest in foil/towel. Here's one factor which I recently learned to be true regarding elevation: (example) if you do alot of oven cooking, and a recipe calls for 30 minutes @ 350*, but then states to increase cooking time at higher elevations? Same is true for smokers...either a slightly higher temp, or longer times are needed to achieve the same results as you would get at sea level vs ~5,000 ft where I'm located.

    Anyway, that's been something I've been trying to take into consideration when I fire up a smoker. For this run, the danger zone wasn't of concern due to having intact whole muscle meats, but my smoke chamber temp of 225* would be comparable to somewhere in the neighborhood of 212-215* at sea level, maybe less.

    The slicing subject, just out of the Vault:



    I managed to stretch the resting for 1.25 hours...at first when I grabbed the bone, I thought I'd taken the temps too high. It was nearly pulling consistency. The bone, upper left pulled out nearly clean. I only had to break a small piece of bark to release it from the meat, so yes, it is very tender, just like I wanted.

    The bare meat area is where the bone came out...I'll follow it down the side with a close-up of the bone cavity:




    OK, I need a plan here on slicing...cuting down the long side is accross the grain, but the pieces will be too large to handle for plating, and this is so tender that thin slicing will be nearly impossible while it's still hot. It would literally fall apart. So, I cut the butt in half next to the left of the bone cavity (with the grain), then I rotated the right-hand half 90 counter-clock-wise and sliced accross the grain into approx 1 to 1-1/8" thick slices. The bone cavity was already seperated meat, so of course, it wanted to fall to the board, but it gives a good look at the muscle areas which were attached to the bone...they're smooth and clean of any  tampering, so it's very close to pulling texture.

    The with-grain cut looked dry at first, but that the nature of the cut, as it frays the meat fibers. The cross-grain slicing is where the rest of the story is told:



    The two right-hand slices here show the bone cavity again...look for that smooth gray telltale sign of the missing bone:



    This tells the the story of moisture...not dry, not spurting juices, just a nice, moist slice...I gotta tell ya, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this:




    You've probably already taken note of the bark...awesome! I can't wait to get into that bigger butt for pulling, 'cause the bark is gonna be even twice as well developed as this one.

    The brine had a huge impact on flavor. I could taste it in the range of approx 3/4' into the meat from the bark/smoke for most of the depth into the shoulder. The very center there was an absence of these flavors, but it gave me a very good feel for total brine time needed with this salt content, and also a true way of tasting the meat with and without brine...I deliberately went for the med-section first, then the center, then the bark so I could find what everything did for me today.

    I ran outside after eating and went straight to my freezer and dug out another twin-pack of butts to start thawing in my fridge while I waited for a pic to upload. I'm doing another batch of this pork ASAP, and I'm not one for doing repeats very often...I like to change things up from one smoke to the next, but this one really deserves a revisit. I want brine...all the way to the center of the butt, if possible, and I have the flavors worth going after again and again. This was a 2-day brine, and I was pretty close to having a full brine into the center, so, yea, we're doing this one again!

    The dry rub? Yep, it's dangerously good, and the smoke was not hampering anything...brought it all together very nicely, with those milder sweeter aromas and flavors. I will say this: if you can get your hands on some pre-dried (or, dry your own) red bell peppers, apple slices and cherries, you won't be disappointed. NWDave has been using them as well...he'll tell ya what it's all about...scary good. There's not much I'd want to change with this round of brine or rub, other than a longer brine period of maybe 4 days, 3 for sure. I may want to increase the salt, maybe not. I'll have time to figure that out before my next butt smoke. I'll like leave everything alone and just give it more time. And, no I won't inject the brine in these, not when I have an intact whole muscle meat to work my magic with. OK, after thinking about it a minute, I may only take the temp to 175 or so for slicing, while still hitting the 200* mark for pulling.

    So far, so great! I'm dying to hit that pulled pork, though, and it'll be resting 'til morning for sure! Oh, speaking of the pulling butt, last check it was stalled @ 179-180* for over 2 hours, and we're now @ 21.5 hours into the smoke...gonna be a long friggin night, but man, will it be worth it. No work for this boy in the morning, so bring on that 24-hr smoke...I can handle it! LOL!!!!!

    See ya in the morning with pulled pork...this should be a killer bark, 'cause I refuse to foil this one!

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Les, this is one wicked fun ride, so far!

    Thanks Johnny, the cherries and apples have to be well-dried and you can can grind them up in your spice/coffee grinder. The cherry processing is explained in the Wiki under "Cherry Dry Rub" found HERE.  I explain how I first made my cherry dry rub including mincing the dried cherries with a chef knife on a board, but have found that you can go straight to the grinder in smaller quantities...it's all in the Wiki for the cherry gig. The dried apple just needs to be broken small enough to fit into your grinder, a few quick pulses, and viola...apple powder! The red bell peppers are diced before dehydrating...at least that's the form I get them in, and they can go straight to the grinder.

    Oh, if you have high humidy like NWDave, he knows of methods to help overcome some of the caking/clumping associated with that problem. He mentioned something about vac-sealing the powders into a canning jar, then regrinds to break it up when he mixes a batch of dry rub so he can get accurate measures, etc.


    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  19. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Great job Eric. As always a great post too
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Scarbelly, it's turning into a long ride, but not too bad...cruise-mode as I call it.

    Well, that 24-hr smoke I was talking about earlier? The 24 hr mark has come...and gone...just hit 193* @ 24.25 hours...at least the last stall is over now, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Nice, deep, dark colored bark goin' on:


    Still hangin' on for a no-foil 200* finished temp...not gonna budge either...past the point of no return...........OK, I do think I'm getting a bit rummy now, and it's not from liquor, either!

    Pulled pork sometime in morning...

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011