Pork Butt: What Not To Do

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mneeley490, May 11, 2015.

  1. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey folks,

    I've been doing successful pork butts for years, and as we all know, it is usually the most forgiving cut of meat to smoke. You have to try pretty hard to screw one up. Well, I guess I tried pretty hard.

    I didn't have as much time as I usually allow for a butt. In fact, I didn't even get it on the smoker until noon, yesterday. So I deboned it, and cut it in half to speed up the process. I also smoked at 300°, figuring it should be okay. Well, I was wrong.

    It did come out quickly; reached 200° IT in about 4-1/2 hours. But after a 2 hour nap in the cooler, it was very difficult to pull. Very tough and fiberous.  The collagens didn't have the proper time to convert to gelatins, and I got the worst pulled pork I've ever done. Had to practically drown it in finishing sauce to make it edible.

    So remember, take your time. Some things just can't be rushed.
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That is interesting. I have had great success smoking them at 300 but I leave them whole. I have done bone-in and boneless at 300 and haven't noticed a difference between the two. It must have been cutting it in half that was the issue. 
  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Just don't pull till probe tender. If you do probe for temp with a remote then verify it with an instant read.
  4. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, I should have done that. But one piece appeared to be coming apart as I lifted it off the grill, so I "assumed" they were done. Believe me, I will be much more diligent next time.
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That is interesting. I too have had fantastic results cooking at 300°.
  6. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    Funny.  I did pretty much the same thing on Saturday.  Picked up a package of deboned shoulders from Costco, decided to cut them down to smaller sizes, cooked just below 300.  Had just a little bit of trouble pulling one portion, and I chalked it up that part just not being as done as the rest.  I think there's some merit to your point about having enough time to break down.
  7. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Previous post removed.

    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Guys, guys, guys...... now we all know about pork butts and your acting surprized that everyones results are not consistent. LOL

    mneeley, I can apprecaite your grief, and of course it was on Mother's Day too. I am laughing with you, and I have earned that right as most of these others commenting have also....LOL

    Every once in a while we have to be brought back down to earth and reminded that the great swine shrine always has a joker up his sleeve. And its always the very worst timing on it. Its why places like Pizza Hut can stay in business, well that and date nights. LOL

    Thanks man, you did make me as well as the rest (even thought they didn't fess up to it), smile on a Monday evening. Stuff happens, I hope you recovered well.
  9. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Previous post removed.
  10. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Removed my previous post encouraging to try cooking butts at a higher temp.  That won't happen again.

    mneeley490, sorry your butt didn't turn out the way you wanted.

  11. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I cook picnics ( harder to get right ) all the time at temps around 300. Never had a problem.

    High temps work. Who has 15-20 hours to cook???? Not me.
  12. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Foam. We gamely ate some Sunday night, but I have the feeling that the rest of it will get stewed some, and end up as tacos carnitas.
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And you are saying this like its a bad thing?  ZOMG.........

    You know if you can sneak a little into the bedroom and put it under the pillow........ Those are the best dreams!
  14. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    A few observations-

    1- As stated by FWISmoker don't take the off the pit until the meat is "probe tender".

    2- The "money muscle" portion of a butt will be probe tender and at higher temp than the muscle parts around the bone, especially the part that is under the bone. This part may be as much as 15°+ lower in temp and not probe tender when other parts are.

    3- Your 2 hour "rest" may have(emphasizing the "may") allowed much of the butt to cool and made pulling difficult. I never rest butts more than 20 minutes, it is not necessary for tender, juicy pork to rest any longer than that if cooking at high heat.

    4- If you are going to cook at 300° you do not need to debone and cut the butt in half, the whole thing would probably been done in the 6 1/2-7  hours at 300°.

    5- There is nothing wrong with slicing those parts that are difficult to pull, it is still tender and delicious.
  15. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This is a cool thread. I should have added a line to my earlier post:
    "So I'm interested to see what happens here".
    While my experience with higher heat smokes has produced great results, it's still a 6-7 hour smoke.
    Mneely's results might just answer some questions.
    There is a sliding point on a graph where time and temperature intersect and the meat is done. I've always kinda thought that it was a fixed relationship, that raising the temperature lowered the time by x amount, across the graph. But,the results here show that by cutting the butt into smaller pieces, you reduce the time to an extent that the temp can't catch up and the tissue doesn't break down.
    So, there is a 3rd element here. I guess you could call it "time in the sweet spot".
    We know from sous vide cooking that you can get almost any cut of meat to tenderize at almost any safe temperature, given enough time. You can have medium rare brisket that you can cut with a fork.
    But on the opposite end of the scale, how far can we push the temperature and still give enough time for the connective tissue to break down? My guess is that it's somewhere around 3 hours between 155° and 195° or so at a minimum.
  16. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Cliff, the butt was rested as per the standard. Wrapped in foil, then wrapped in towels, and allowed to rest in a dry cooler. It was still hot to the touch when I pulled the meat. I don't use forks or gadgets to pull, just latex gloves, as I like to feel where the fat is and remove it. I'm used to burned fingers.
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  17. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have to say, I am guilty of spitting butts into smaller pieces and smoking at 300.  I do it all the time.  I once split a 9 pounder in 3 somewhat equal parts and I got really good results.  Easy to pull, juicy and great bark and of course much shorter cook time.  I think Foam might be right in saying some butts are different. Maybe it just needed to finish at a higher temp.  I usually go 203 and the rest brings it up to 205 but some of them have needed 207 or even higher to be probe tender.  The mystery of meat!

Share This Page