Smoking a pork shoulder while keeping my social distance

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gtmski

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Dec 18, 2019
10
5
Westfield, NJ
I went to Shop Rite the other day, and they were sold out of Chicken. But they had plenty of pork and beef! So I bought a pork shoulder and am smoking it today while I work out of the house.

I put the rub on last night.

I am smoking it with applewood, and will bring to IT of 200 degrees.
 

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gtmski

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Dec 18, 2019
10
5
Westfield, NJ
It was a little tougher than I am used to. I usually cook till 200 degrees IT, but took off at 195 degrees. Not sure if 5 degrees would have removed the toughness. I was able to pull it, just took a little more elbow grease. It tasted good and I have plenty of leftovers.
 

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one eyed jack

Master of the Pit
Oct 11, 2014
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Coastal NC
Good looking bark on your butt.

I watch meat temp, when smoking butts, but have never used temp as a "done" indicator. If you buy "bone in" butts you can read done-ness by when the bone wiggles free cleanly. I am sure that a "probe test" would give you a good indication of done-ness, also.

Best I can recall; All the butts I have smoked went to at least 200* before they were pull-able. Don't forget the wrapped rest in a cooler after taking it out of the smoker.
 
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gtmski

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Original poster
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Dec 18, 2019
10
5
Westfield, NJ
Good looking bark on your butt.

I watch meat temp, when smoking butts, but have never used temp as a "done" indicator. If you buy "bone in" butts you can read done-ness by when the bone wiggles free cleanly. I am sure that a "probe test" would give you a good indication of done-ness, also.

Best I can recall; All the butts I have smoked went to at least 200* before they were pull-able. Don't forget the wrapped rest in a cooler after taking it out of the smoker.
Thanks for the pointers!
 

gtmski

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Original poster
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Dec 18, 2019
10
5
Westfield, NJ
5 degrees can make a difference. After hours and hours, it is better to overcook than undercook. Better yet, only use temp as a guide when to probe for tenderness, then keep smoking until it probes tender.
Thanks. I will be sure to go to 200 IT in the future. I am always worried about drying the meat out if it gets to hot. What is the max IT you have ever reached to ensure the meat is soft to the probe?

Thanks!
 

noboundaries

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Thanks. I will be sure to go to 200 IT in the future. I am always worried about drying the meat out if it gets to hot. What is the max IT you have ever reached to ensure the meat is soft to the probe?

Thanks!

Ah, and there's the issue. You NEVER have to worry about drying out a pork butt because it gets it's juiciness from melted collagen, the tough fibers of a hard working muscle. If undercooked, it will taste dry and tough because there's too much collagen remaining. If overcooked, it will be juicy but mushy because all the structure has melted away. A pork butt isn't a loin or a loin chop. Those get dry when overcooked, thus their internal target temp is around 140-145F and you DEFINITELY have to use IT to get a juicy chop or loin.

The sweet spot for a butt's IT when the meat is going to be pulled is generally between 200-207F, but it can be a little less or a little more depending on the animal and how it was raised.

Max temp? Next time you smoke a butt, aim for 203-207F IT, but start probing at 195F, purely for education purposes. Probe every 45 minutes or so and take note of the IT. You'll quickly get a feel for how the meat softens FOR THAT PARTICULAR pork butt as the IT rises. The next butt you do may be totally different. And many times I've had two butts of the exact same size finish hours apart when smoked simultaneously in the same smoker.

Another thing to remember. Heat is transferred to the meat faster the greater the temperature difference between the meat and the chamber. If you're smoking at 225F and the final 10-20F IT is taking forever, that's physics. Crank up the chamber temp another 50F to increase the difference. Trust me, that butt doesn't care one bit.

Happy smoking!

Ray
 
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gtmski

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Original poster
Thread starter
Dec 18, 2019
10
5
Westfield, NJ
Ah, and there's the issue. You NEVER have to worry about drying out a pork butt because it gets it's juiciness from melted collagen, the tough fibers of a hard working muscle. If undercooked, it will taste dry and tough because there's too much collagen remaining. If overcooked, it will be juicy but mushy because all the structure has melted away. A pork butt isn't a loin or a loin chop. Those get dry when overcooked, thus their internal target temp is around 140-145F and you DEFINITELY have to use IT to get a juicy chop or loin.

The sweet spot for a butt's IT when the meat is going to be pulled is generally between 200-207F, but it can be a little less or a little more depending on the animal and how it was raised.

Max temp? Next time you smoke a butt, aim for 203-207F IT, but start probing at 195F, purely for education purposes. Probe every 45 minutes or so and take note of the IT. You'll quickly get a feel for how the meat softens FOR THAT PARTICULAR pork butt as the IT rises. The next butt you do may be totally different. And many times I've had two butts of the exact same size finish hours apart when smoked simultaneously in the same smoker.

Another thing to remember. Heat is transferred to the meat faster the greater the temperature difference between the meat and the chamber. If you're smoking at 225F and the final 10-20F IT is taking forever, that's physics. Crank up the chamber temp another 50F to increase the difference. Trust me, that butt doesn't care one bit.

Happy smoking!

Ray
Thanks for the info. I have noticed that as the meat gets closer to 200 degrees I need a greater "delta" in the temperature to pull it across the line (grill temp closer to 300 degrees versus 250). I will be sure to go above 200 next time!.

It is great to have such a helpful group of community members here to keep me going in the right direction . I really appreciate it!

Thank you!
 
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