Smoked Butts Learning the Importance of IT

Discussion in 'Pork' started by caleb, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    Yesterday I smoked my first boston butts. One was boneless just shy of 4 lbs and the other was bone in around 5.5 lbs. I also smoked a pork loin at the same time, and since I'm a newbie I mis judged the time it takes to smoke these pretty hardcore. I'm using a MES 30" and added apple wood chips about every hour or so.

    So now you know the context here is what happened. I started out cooking at 225 and left it there for about 3 hours. I then noticed the loin was cooking way to fast for the timing in which I needed it to be done for when we had people over. I wanted to take it to about an IT of 140-145 and it was 130ish at the 3 hour mark so I turned my smoker waaaaaay down to about 190. This bought me about 2 more hours but sacrificed my butts and really slowed them down. So the loin was done in about 5 hours and I let it sit for 2 hours before slicing it (not desired but just needed to wait because I wanted to keep it warm before we had people over.)

    After I pulled the loin out of the smoker I had no idea how much longer the butts were going to take. But I kicked the smoker back up to 230 for about 2 hours and then kicked it up to 250 to finish them off (again not desired but needed them to get done because I had people salivating to try them). They both stalled hard at 145 so i foiled them at 160. I pulled the boneless butt at IT of 190 and let it sit for 15 min and attempted to pull the pork.....would have been better off slicing it. It still tasted good but not as good as what it could have been. However it satisfied everyone that was still hungry after eating 6 lbs of loin and some chicken drumsticks.

    Now for the bone in butt I took more time with it mainly because nobody was hungry anymore. So I took to an IT of 205 and let it sit for about an hour. Put it in the pan and man o man it just fell apart. Major difference in just 15 degrees IT and letting it sit longer after pulling from the smoker.

    All in all the the boneless butt took 9 hours and the bone in tool 11 hours. I know these times are much longer than what I should have taken because slowing down the cooker because of the loin. So next time I know to start the butts early and add the loin later.
  2. davidhef88

    davidhef88 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    11 hrs is right on schedule for a 5.5 butt smoking at the temps you were. I always figure 2 hrs per lb at 225*. My last butts were 8 lbs. and took 18 hrs with no foil. Keep some good notes and you can start to dial in times it will take in your smoker. Unfortunately, every piece of meat is a little different.
  3. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Welcome Caleb

    The rest period makes a lot of difference.   I smoke mine at 250 to an IT of 200.  It usually takes about 10-11 hrs.   The more you have in the smoker the longer it will take.  The cold mass of the meat takes longer to get everything warm.

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Lesson learned, believe me, we have all been there. You came to the right place to learn from the goofs the rest of us have made. Congrats on getting them done and feeding that crowd. Post some Qview next time so we can all enjoy your success...JJ
  5. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, different cuts of Pork cook differently. You checked on it @ 130*F , it would have been Great if you would have then pulled it , double wrapped it in foil and wrapped in towels lying in c dry cooler. The residual heat would have finished the Loin and tenderized the Heck out of it.

    The Butts should havwe been left at the original temp. and left to do the " Porkbutt Stall" then taken out @ your 205*F to rest in the cooler with the Loin (wrapped and all.) At mealtime, you would have still had piping hot Meat and less Drama.

    Do your self a favor,(if you haven't already) and get a Maverick probe therm. Great little units and are pretty tough.

    Hope next cook is less worry always . . .
  6. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    So for no Q-View. I was to flustered in trying to get them done right. I will next time though.

    How long is a good rest time? Also what is the max rest time you could have?
  7. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    See I pulled it at 145 and there was a piece that was still a little bloody. People might have frowned upon that. Also I have 2 Taylor meat probes I got at Target for about $15. They seem to work pretty well.
  8. ps0303

    ps0303 Meat Mopper

    I did two butts yesterday.  I kept the smoker around 225-235.  I started at 0700 and by 2100 the first butt hit 190 and I pulled it off the smoker and wrapped it in foil and then a beach towel and placed in cooler to rest.  The second butt hit 190 right around 2200.  Did the same wrap up process and put in cooler.  Around 2300 I started pulling the first butt I put in the cooler.  It was awesome.  The bone pulled out cleanly.

    I never track or keep track of time.  I go by IT only.  If it takes 12 hours or 16 hours so be it.  The wife always asks me how long they will take.  Same answer all the time, when the temp is right they are done. 
  9. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    minimum of 1 hr rest... up to 6 hrs and will still be hot.... I would leave the therm. probe in them while resting.. that way if they get down to 140` IT you can take the proper precautions... for my pork loins.. I brine them overnight... so much juicer...

    pretty much every smoke I do I learn something new.... so chalk it up to a good learning experience...
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Typically we try to rest in a cooler with towels for at least 1 hour, 30 minutes tented with foil in a cold Oven. In the Cooler those Butts would have stayed Hot, above 140*F, for 4-5 hours. The Loin, a much lower IT, would have stayed hot about 1 hour or so. It's nice to get an early start and have the Meat waiting on the People rather than the other way around...JJ
  11. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If it makes you feel any better, I made the same mistake with my first butt. Misery loves company? There is an old saying a science instructor taught me. You learn more from failures than mistakes. We'll both cook to IT from now on.

  12. woodchucks

    woodchucks Smoke Blower

    If the meat gets finished to soon no worries just wrap in a couple towels and put in a cooler will stay hot for hours I put loins wrapped in a towel into a cooler wrapped in a blanket over night for work the next day. They were still very hot the next morning, I would never slow down the smoker for pulled pork. They can stall for awhile, I have hard time getting them done before10 to 12 hours. Loins usually take around 4 hours. So just try to put them on accordingly. Just my 2 cents 
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Very True! My Chem Professor taught..." God must be a Woman because She can make Pancakes with Her Laser Eye..." I think he may have Played with the Chemicals too many times...[​IMG]...JJ
  14. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Har. I think we had the same instructor.
  15. dougmays

    dougmays Limited Mod Group Lead

    We've all been there brother! We are all learning with each smoke.

    One thing you'll learn as you do this more and more is to time your meats...for instance your loin is a much more lean meat so it'll cook fast! No stall, no muscle to break down, and no pulling. So you want to put "quicker cookers" on later. In your case i would have put the butts on and maybe 5-6 hours later put the loins on, hoping that i'll foil at the same time or serve the loin as a attiptizer. Just like poultry that cooks quick...if i'm smoking a chicken with some butts...i'll put the chickens on say when i hit the stall in the butts. Starting meets at different times is much better then altering my cook temp for one cut of meat (if cooking different cuts). In a comp i'll cook my butts/briskets at 225-250 but when its time to put the chicken on i'll up the temp for that short time i need to (currently on a vertical smoker which no variance in temp), usually those thicker cuts can handle the temporary temp spike.

    For competitions i've actually starting drawing a visual timeline for all 4 of my meats and when i'll put them on, when i'll foil, and serving time.

    Also you mentioned checking the temp at 3 hours...i never open my smoker until the first 4 hours is up. you want to get out of the danger zone (40-140) within 4 hours so i dont touch my smoker once it's up to temp for that first 4 hour time period then i'l prob the meats...usaully in that time if you are at 225 or more  you'll be well above 150degrees on butts/briskets...more for poultry and tender meats.

    like everyone said...its all about learning and having fun! Also us BBQers are the biggest critics of our own food...i'm sure you hated the final product but your guests LOVED it:)

    keep on smokin!
  16. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    Thanks for the help everyone! Glad your willing to help me through my learning process.
  17. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It is one of the best things about this forum. When I did my first successful pulled pork (only a month ago), I posted at each step and was walked through it step by step. The people here are so generous with their experience.

  18. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    Just realized I did take a pic. This was about an hour in. In which I have learned since then. Not to even check until the 3 hour mark.
  19. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I noticed in one of your posts that you said you raised the temp to 250* and that was not desirable. I run my smoker at 265* all the time when smoking butts. I used to run 225*-250* but have found no real difference cooking at the higher heat and have found that the stalls aren't as long. I am not sure though if  the MES can get that hot?
  20. caleb

    caleb Fire Starter

    Okay thanks, that is good to know. I just didn't want to dry them out by cooking them too fast.

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