My pork butt was terrible...need expert advice

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mike miclette, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Hello -  So I did a butt on my XLG Big Green Egg this weekend and it was an abject failure.

    I had a hard time getting the temp down on my BGE and the first 4 hrs was at about 270 deg F.  I finally got it down in the 245 - 250 range and held it there for the rest of the time.  Cooked the Butt for 10 hours and pulled it with an internal temp of 189.

    The top inch or so was dry.  The internal was moist, but the texture was more like a pork roast and not fall apart tender like I was expecting.


    Was the temp too high to start off with?

    Should I keep the butt on even longer considering the top 1" or so of the meat was dry?  I read that the meat temp should be in the 195 range, but I'm concerned due to the texture of this butt.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I have to cook for a neighborhood party in two weeks.

    P.S.  I double checked my thermometer in boiling water and it is within a few degrees
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I've never used an Egg so I can't really help you there. I'm not sure why it was dry, it wasn't because of the temp. I've done a few butts in the 270*-280* range and they came out Great. I gave up on the 225* for butts because they just take too long.
    If you want it pull apart tender you need to take the IT to 195*-205* but don't rely on temps alone, I always do a toothpick test. That is to probe many different places with a probe or toothpick, it should slide in like hot butter, then you know it's done.
  3. ldrus

    ldrus Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I would of wrapped the butt in foil when the IT hit .165, then finished it until it hit. The 195/198 mark, let it rest for half hr. Then pull . Also when u foil it that is a good time to give it a good spritz of your favorite mop sause I like a 85% apple cider 15 % jack Daniels
  4. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Next time try foiling around 160°F and take it to an internal temperature of 205°F.

    Edit: it works for me...... not an expert.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  5. I say nix the foil and take 'er to 203*-205*... Probe check should be perfect then. Anything under 200 is just pork roast, put it on the table and slice away. Lol.
  6. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Agree with the above two. Foil and take to 195° for slicing, or 200°-205° for pulling.

    Also, did you trim the fat from the outside? Leave it on to get a moist surface. You can remove it when done.
  7. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Agree with the others, think you pulled the butt too early.    Also, did you wrap the butt and let it rest before pulling? 
  8. I did not wrap and I did not let it rest. I did leave the fat on the top, although it was not a very thick layer. I appreciate everyone's advice. I think next time I will cook at a lower temp for longer, get it to 200 degrees, pull it off the pit, wrap in foil and let it sit for an hour or two in an ice chest.If it's still not good, then I'll just make sure everyone at the neighborhood cookout has plenty of booze in them.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
    remmy700p likes this.
  9. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Mike, consider yourself to be in good company.  I'd wager that the two most common mistakes with Butts are 1) pulling them too early and, 2) not resting them properly.   The higher internal temp allows for the fats and connective tissues to really break down, and the proper resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.   I don't think your grate temps were the issue.  That said, if you are worried about the butt drying out, wrap it in foil at 160-165, spritz with some apple juice or a "foiling juice", seal it up and put it back in the smoker to reach 200-205.

    Worst case scenario, if you running out of time and know that you won't hit 200 or so, take it out a little early and slice or chunk it.    Throw it in a disposable aluminum pan with some sauce that's been heated on the stove, seal the pan and throw it back in the smoker at a higher temp (300 - 350).    Not as good as pulled pork in my opinion, but it's something that will satisfy the hungry masses in a pinch. 
    mike miclette and shawnmaloney01 like this.
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Mike, there may be mixed results with foiling a meat to bring it up to finished temps. It will save you time, yes, but may not create favorable conditions for finishing the meat and keeping the interior moist. A wet cooking environment does not do what you may think it would for your meats. I use foil for resting only now, and sometimes not even for resting. I'll let these tell you the rest of the story:

    From a while back, when I was still learning the basics about this:

    More recently...this thread discussed a non-foiled resting method in detail, and the resulting pulled pork it has yielded for me:

    All the details of what I know so far (updated periodically), including the above and other threads with beef chuck, brisket, pork spare ribs, top round:

    mike miclette and shawnmaloney01 like this.
  11. Thanks Eric, I appreciate the advice.
  12. backwoods bbq

    backwoods bbq Meat Mopper

    pulled pork 205 IT make sure you wrap in foil in a cooler (Styrofoam) if possible or also wrap in towels. R U sure you didn't have a pork loin those are more lean and dry out quickly.
  13. Mike, Fat cap on the bottom, cook until internal temp is 205, foil only for resting in a cooler. Some advocate 225 cooker temp, some prefer higher. I am one who prefers higher, I generally cook the butts at 250 - 275.

    No foil cooking develops a better bark on the butt.

    Just remember, stick with the internal temp of 205 and your guests will be pleased.
  14. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Not familiar with those smokers..... does it come with a water pan? 

    Everyone has a theory.... 

    Here's one of mine..... Smoking a big hunk of muscle for ever (at times it seems) in dry heat, will dry out the outside surface. How much and how deep, probably depends on intensity of the heat and length of time the meat is in it.

    Do a search on pork butts here on SMF and you'll get all kinds of tips. Try one method that sounds good to you, then go from there.

    So far I've done every butt the same way, as far as smoking/cooking. I keep doing it that way because I like the results. Haven't smoked one yet in my WSM, but soon will. They were all done in my MES40".

    I start up the smoker and set the temp to about 255°F or so. Fill the water pan with hot liquid and let the smoker get up to temp. Meanwhile the butt(s) are sitting at room temp so they're not as cold going in. Before I put the butt(s) in the smoker, I get the TBS going. With cold mass going in, door being open, the temp will drop in the smoker. I let it go like that for a while to see what's going on with the smoker temp. Adjust temp set point as needed to stay close to 225°F on the plus side. When I know the surface temp of the meat is above 140°F I give it a spritz and stick the meat probe in it. I try to maintain 225°F the whole time, hot water in the pan and TBS until I foil around 165°. No need for smoke or liquid after this point. At some point I have to start adjusting temp set point down to maintain 225°F. When the IT of the butt(s) hits 205°F I take it out of the smoker, put it inside the cooler wrapped in towels and let it rest for at least one hour. After the rest period I pull it for some delicious PP. And yes, the bark will be soft.

    Whichever way you try next time, good luck! It's a learning process and you'll get better with every smoke.
    shawnmaloney01 and hammocksmoker like this.
  15. tennman73

    tennman73 Fire Starter

    Lots of great advice here. Might I add...never inject with Tequila and sweet and sour mix. Yuck! Lol
  16. Smoked two 8 pound butts a few days ago on my WSM using a DigiQ DX2 ATC to keep pit temp at 225. Heavily relied on Eric's (forluvofsmoke) Wet To Dry method to obtain maximum bark production.

    Trimmed all exterior fat from butts. Rubbed with Jeff's rub. Wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.

    WSM water pan ~ 1/2 full of sand with terra cotta saucer on top and wrapped with aluminum foil. Filled remainder of water pan with hot water. As WSM warmed up and started producing smoke (pit temp ~115 deg) put both 8 pound butts on top rack (food temp ~35 deg).

    Took 27 hours on smoker with no foiling and no lid opening to get butt IT to 195 deg. Did have to add some charcoal during smoke, but just a few handfuls.

    Rested pork on raised roast trays in large aluminum pans covered only with kitchen towels for a couple of hours to maintain maximum bark.

    Was very pleased with results. Heavy delicious bark mixed with moist tender pulled pork.
  17. marshman71

    marshman71 Smoke Blower

    First off remove the fat cap as much as you can while preserving the meat.  Your rub wont penetrate through the fat anyway.   Defiantly use a water pan if you can that will help add alittle moisture

    and also helps to regulate temperature.  you may also want to try injecting it with apple juice.  or another injection you prefer.   I use Chris Lillys Injection and love it,  Apple Juice works well too.

    I start mine out at 225-230 for first 4 -5 hours  Mist with apple juice every couple hours throughout the entire cook,  after the IT hits about 145 -150  I start to ramp up the temp to 250-260 range.

    I have found by doing this in my experience I have been able to avoid having to foil my butts and avoid the Stall ( it's where the internal temp just wont come up any more )  This in turn will create the best bark for you by not foiling.  

    I then pull my butts off at IT 205  wrap in heavy duty foil and toss in cooler for an hour rest.   Now your ready to pull it. should be extremely moist if there is a bone the bone should just fall out or remove cleanly with ease.

    lastly invest in a digital thermometer ... best investment you'll ever make for your smoking.  The stock dial guage on the BGE is more than likely about 30 degrees off.  

    Hope this helps.   This is a great community and everyone seems to be very willing to share their expertise.    Happy Smoking.
  18. Mike I cook on a vision kamado so it's just like what you are using and you just need to cook longer and let it rest. I don't foil, I don't use a water pan, I just let it cook between 225 and 250 untill IT of around 200. Did you have a heat deflector, in place so that the heat was indirect. Here is a couple of butts I did on my kamado with pics of how i set mine up from the coals to the grills.
  19. rivertonsmoker

    rivertonsmoker Fire Starter

    Few questions about this post...

    I have a MES 30"... should I get a digital thermometer also? Can you link me to an inexpensive one that will work for this?
  20. Thanks. i appreciate everyone's advice.I did use a heat deflector. In the BGE, they call it the plate setter. A ceramic insert with three openings around the perimiter
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013

Share This Page