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Setup For Pork Butt

Carne_Lover

Newbie
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3
Joined Sep 17, 2020
Going to smoke an 8.4lb pork butt this weekend for the first time in my MES 30 and am curious what setup y'all use. I successfully smoked a bunch of chicken thighs for my first smoke and they came out great. A few questions:
  • Should I put an empty water pan in for smoking the butt to catch the grease? For the chicken thighs, I didn't have the water pan in while smoking them and noticed a lot of burned residue on the cover of the heating element.
  • How often should wood chips be added for the butt? For the chicken thighs, I did two portions of chips (one at the beginning and refilled about 20 minutes in after I stopped seeing smoke come out of the vent) and they came out plenty smoky. Those are of course much smaller pieces of meat, so not sure if the butt needs more smoke.
  • How open should the top vent be? For the chicken thighs, I had the vent closed as far as it would go to trap as much smoke as possible. Is that a good strategy for the butt too?
  • Any other recommendations?
This is the first smoker I've ever owned and this will be the second thing I've ever smoked, so appreciate any advice or constructive criticism.
 

gmc2003

Epic Pitmaster
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Joined Sep 15, 2012
Welcome to the forums glad to have ya join the fun. Bearcarver Bearcarver has a list of different smokes in his signature that he's done in his MES.

Here's one he did just the other day:

Chris
 

Kevin DeShazo

Smoking Fanatic
415
1,113
Joined Nov 7, 2018
Welcome to the site. With my MES, I never add anything to the liquid pan, just use it as a drip tray. I usually run mine at 225 and refill the chip loader every 30-40 mins when I notice there is no smoke coming out of the vent and speaking of, leave the vent wide open.

You will have folks also tell you skip the chip tray and get an AMNPS tray. I havent used one but instead of loading chips every 30ish mins, the one load in the tray should last your entire smoke.
 

forktender

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Joined Jun 10, 2008
Going to smoke an 8.4lb pork butt this weekend for the first time in my MES 30 and am curious what setup y'all use. I successfully smoked a bunch of chicken thighs for my first smoke and they came out great. A few questions:
  • Should I put an empty water pan in for smoking the butt to catch the grease? For the chicken thighs, I didn't have the water pan in while smoking them and noticed a lot of burned residue on the cover of the heating element.
  • How often should wood chips be added for the butt? For the chicken thighs, I did two portions of chips (one at the beginning and refilled about 20 minutes in after I stopped seeing smoke come out of the vent) and they came out plenty smoky. Those are of course much smaller pieces of meat, so not sure if the butt needs more smoke.
  • How open should the top vent be? For the chicken thighs, I had the vent closed as far as it would go to trap as much smoke as possible. Is that a good strategy for the butt too?
  • Any other recommendations?
This is the first smoker I've ever owned and this will be the second thing I've ever smoked, so appreciate any advice or constructive criticism.
" How open should the top vent be? For the chicken thighs, I had the vent closed as far as it would go to trap as much smoke as possible. Is that a good strategy for the butt too? " Never close the top vent or your smoker will creosote over causing a nasty bitter taste on your food.
Once again NEVER close the top vent, the top vent should be open 100%...........100%of the time you're cooking!!! Only close the top vent for snuffing a fire and or storage besides that open 100% for smoking.
 

tallbm

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Joined Dec 30, 2016
Going to smoke an 8.4lb pork butt this weekend for the first time in my MES 30 and am curious what setup y'all use. I successfully smoked a bunch of chicken thighs for my first smoke and they came out great. A few questions:
  • Should I put an empty water pan in for smoking the butt to catch the grease? For the chicken thighs, I didn't have the water pan in while smoking them and noticed a lot of burned residue on the cover of the heating element.
  • How often should wood chips be added for the butt? For the chicken thighs, I did two portions of chips (one at the beginning and refilled about 20 minutes in after I stopped seeing smoke come out of the vent) and they came out plenty smoky. Those are of course much smaller pieces of meat, so not sure if the butt needs more smoke.
  • How open should the top vent be? For the chicken thighs, I had the vent closed as far as it would go to trap as much smoke as possible. Is that a good strategy for the butt too?
  • Any other recommendations?
This is the first smoker I've ever owned and this will be the second thing I've ever smoked, so appreciate any advice or constructive criticism.
Hi there and welcome!

1. No need for water in pan in the MES
3. Leave the vent wide open the whole time
2. Well I would say feed wood chips every 30 minutes as long as you can stand to do so. I would strongly suggest you look into the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS) tray or tube. The tray will provide PERFECT smoke for up to 12 hours using pellets. The tube does like 3 hours of smoke using pellets as well. Almost all of us MES guys upgrade to using an AMNPS tray or tube because it works amazingly and no more babysitting smoke.
Because you have an MES30 some guy shave trouble using the tray inside the MES. In this case you can build a "Mailbox Mod" where you just hook it up to the the chip feeder whole (remove the tube) and you put the AMNPS tray inside the mailbox and the smoke feeds into the MES via the tube hole. This is my preferred method no matter what since it separates smoke from being produced inside the MES and allows max flexibility for things like cold smoking food especially without adding too much heat (think smoking cheese).

4. Other suggestions... Pork Butts, Briskets, and ribs really don't care what temp you cook them at so I suggest you crank up the heat to 275F. If you were to achieve a steady 275F and never open the door then the pork butt would finish in about 9hrs.
If you don't have a dual prove (or more probes) wireless thermometer then get one. Use 1 probe to measure smoker temp at rack level and another probe to measure meat Internal Temp (IT). MES probes are ALWAYS off so a good thermometer is needed.
Pork Butts are done when they are tender. They are tender when you can stab all over with a wooden kabob skewer and it goes in like butter. The IT of the meat tells you when to check for tenderness. Pork butts are NEVER done by Time or Temp only by Tenderenss. Same goes for brisket.

SOOOOooooo, with this knowledge at a 275F smoker temp (never opening door until thermometer tells you to check for tenderness) you can guesstimate that it takes 9-10 hours to be tender. So start your smoke an EXTRA 4-5 hours before you plan to serve and eat. So in this case start the smoke 14 hours before you plan to serve and eat. Why???

If you finish 4 hours early, then congrats! You tightly double wrap in foil, then tightly wrap in 3 bath towels and set on the table. 4-5 hours later it will be steaming hot and still ready to pull and serve, I promise!!!
If you don't finish 4 hours early... you have 4 hours for it to finish before people riot due to hunger hahaha.
Number 1 issue with failed pork butt and brisket smokes is pulling the meat out before it is done because people are waiting :)

I hope this info helps and I look forward to you posting the results :)
 

smokerjim

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The others have ya covered, I would add though cover your water pan and grease tray with tinfoil for an easier clean up.
 

SmokinAl

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IMHO you can cook a butt at any temp between 225 & 325. You can wrap it at the stall , but if your cooking it at higher temps, it will not stall. I prefer to smoke mine at 270 and don’t wrap it. We like the bark mixed in with the PP. And don’t forget a finishing sauce, that will put it over the top. We like SOflaquer’s finishing sauce, but chef Jimmy J has a good one too. Just use the search for finishing sauce & use what you think you will like.
Al
 

Bearcarver

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Hi Carne!!
Below are my two favorite Pork Butt Pulled Pork Smokes, in a "Step by Step":
My other one was without foiling @ 165°, but We liked these 2 better:
Pulled Boston Pork Butt (230°--April 23, 2013)
Pulled Boston Pork Butt (265°--Oct 21, 2018)

Bear
 

Carne_Lover

Newbie
2
3
Joined Sep 17, 2020
First off, a big thanks to all who replied! Really helped guide me through this first smoke. Especially Bearcarver. Your detailed posts were very informative and inspiring.

Started off the day before smoking by washing and drying it, applying the rub (Bad Byron's Butt Rub), and wrapping it tightly in saran wrap to sit in the fridge overnight.
1st Smoked Pork Shoulder (1).jpg


Got it in the smoker at 5:05 AM set to 225 with hickory chips. Refilled the hickory chips two more times to ensure it had near constant smoke the first two hours.

Let it cook at 225 for the remainder of the day until the IT hit 203 at 7:50 PM. Total cook time was 14 hours and 45 minutes. Longer than I had expected, but not too bad. (Shout out to smokerjim for recommending wrapping the water pan in foil. So much easier cleanup!)
1st Smoked Pork Shoulder (4).jpg

Took it out, pulled it apart with bear claws, and chowed down. Made a sandwich, and also ate some with just sauce. Was AMAZING!
1st Smoked Pork Shoulder (8).jpg

Topped it with some home made Eastern NC sauce.
1st Smoked Pork Shoulder (9).jpg


For those interested, here's a table of the IT as the smoke progressed: (Shout out to Bearcarver for this idea)

TimeProbe#1 TempProbe#2 Temp
5:05 AM3737
6:35 AM7175
7:20 AM10596
9:30 AM174141
1:45 PM174173
3:15 PM180179
4:30 PM185186
5:30 PM188191
6:30 PM193197
7:00 PM195200
7:30 PM198202
7:50 PM199203
 

JLeonard

Smoking Fanatic
998
613
Joined Apr 17, 2020
C Carne_Lover Looks great. And you cant go wrong with Bearcarver Bearcarver step by step instructions. He has a whole thread of his instructions. I have it bookmarked. I have bombarded him with question in the few months I've been smoking,
Jim
 

tallbm

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
4,600
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Joined Dec 30, 2016
First off, a big thanks to all who replied! Really helped guide me through this first smoke. Especially Bearcarver. Your detailed posts were very informative and inspiring.

Started off the day before smoking by washing and drying it, applying the rub (Bad Byron's Butt Rub), and wrapping it tightly in saran wrap to sit in the fridge overnight.
View attachment 464136


Got it in the smoker at 5:05 AM set to 225 with hickory chips. Refilled the hickory chips two more times to ensure it had near constant smoke the first two hours.

Let it cook at 225 for the remainder of the day until the IT hit 203 at 7:50 PM. Total cook time was 14 hours and 45 minutes. Longer than I had expected, but not too bad. (Shout out to smokerjim for recommending wrapping the water pan in foil. So much easier cleanup!)
View attachment 464137

Took it out, pulled it apart with bear claws, and chowed down. Made a sandwich, and also ate some with just sauce. Was AMAZING!
View attachment 464138

Topped it with some home made Eastern NC sauce.
View attachment 464139


For those interested, here's a table of the IT as the smoke progressed: (Shout out to Bearcarver for this idea)

TimeProbe#1 TempProbe#2 Temp
5:05 AM3737
6:35 AM7175
7:20 AM10596
9:30 AM174141
1:45 PM174173
3:15 PM180179
4:30 PM185186
5:30 PM188191
6:30 PM193197
7:00 PM195200
7:30 PM198202
7:50 PM199203
Great job man, that looks fantastic!

Smoking naked the whole way is the only way to go for me and u did just that!

If you want to add a new amazing wrinkle try cutting the pork butt from the bottom (meat side) upwards till u hit the bone. This will not allow you to cut the thing in half but instead will allow you to kinda spread the meat on the rack so you get more surface area for bark, more seasoning in there, AND you get more smoke penetration deeper in to the meat!!!

Doing this kicks up the amazing flavor a whole other notch! :)
Just some food for thought for the next pork butt :D
 

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