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Some Boston Butt Questions

rustin788

Newbie
19
31
Joined Nov 14, 2016
Hey,

This Saturday I plan on smoking two boston butts on my WSM 14" and just had a few questions since this is my first time smoking two at once.  I currently have a 6.2lb and a 8.1lb boston butt.  I plan on using Hickory and Cherry wood and I'm going to try and keep the temp in the 225°-250° range.  Currently the weather forecast has it at a low of 22° and a high of 44° with 6mph winds that shouldn't be an issue based on the direction.  Here are a few of my questions/concerns:
[hr][/hr]
  1. Since it is going to be cold out should I leave the water pan empty?
  2. I plan on putting the larger of the two butts on the bottom rack with the fat cap facing up.  Do I need to do anything different with it since it will be getting drippings from the top butt?
  3. With the temps being so low is there anything else I need to do other than adding more fuel than usual to keep the temp up?  
  4. With two butts I imagine it will take longer to get back to temp once the meat it added but after that the smoker should act as normal, correct?
  5. I have doing these butts for a potluck Christmas lunch at my office on Tuesday.  Currently I plan on pulling the butts once they are cooked, tossing them in the fridge, and then the day of the party microwaving the meat up to temp and keeping in a crockpot to serve.  Does this sound like a decent plan?
[hr][/hr]
Thanks for taking a look and for any advice. This will be my second time smoking boston butt and my 4th smoke overall.

And just so this isn't just a wall of text here is my smoking partner, Candy:

 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
7,705
1,931
Joined Sep 7, 2013
 
Hey,

This Saturday I plan on smoking two boston butts on my WSM 14" and just had a few questions since this is my first time smoking two at once.  I currently have a 6.2lb and a 8.1lb boston butt.  I plan on using Hickory and Cherry wood and I'm going to try and keep the temp in the 225°-250° range.  Personally, as cold as it is outside, I'd go hotter, 250 to 275, and don't worry about spikes above that.  Currently the weather forecast has it at a low of 22° and a high of 44° with 6mph winds that shouldn't be an issue based on the direction.  Here are a few of my questions/concerns:
[hr][/hr]
  1. Since it is going to be cold out should I leave the water pan empty?  Yes.
  2. I plan on putting the larger of the two butts on the bottom rack with the fat cap facing up.  Do I need to do anything different with it since it will be getting drippings from the top butt?  That's backwards.  The top shelf of your smoker will be hotter than the bottom shelf.  The empty water pan acts as a heat deflector.  I dry smoke almost exclusively and in my WSM the bottom rack runs about 15 degrees cooler than the top rack. 
  3. With the temps being so low is there anything else I need to do other than adding more fuel than usual to keep the temp up?  You can add hot coals instead of cold ones.  Cold ones suck the heat out of the hot ones to reach ignition.  You take care of that if you add hot coals instead.    
  4. With two butts I imagine it will take longer to get back to temp once the meat it added but after that the smoker should act as normal, correct?  Don't load the meat when the temp of the smoker is at 250.  Get the smoker up to 300+ then load the meat.  The temp will fall into your range.  You'll be glad you did.  It is much harder to bring temps up than it is to bring them down. 
  5. I have doing these butts for a potluck Christmas lunch at my office on Tuesday.  Currently I plan on pulling the butts once they are cooked, tossing them in the fridge, and then the day of the party microwaving the meat up to temp and keeping in a crockpot to serve.  Does this sound like a decent plan?  I've done potlucks at work many times, always taking pulled pork I did the day before.  No need to microwave the meat.  The crockpot I used from a coworker was a big Costco version.  We'd load 12-15 lbs of meat in the crockpot a 2-3 hours before serving then turn it to high.  It was always ready. 
[hr][/hr]
Thanks for taking a look and for any advice. This will be my second time smoking boston butt and my 4th smoke overall.

And just so this isn't just a wall of text here is my smoking partner, Candy:  WHAT A CUTE DOGGY!

 
Last edited:

rustin788

Newbie
19
31
Joined Nov 14, 2016
Thanks for all the info.I'll make 250 the minimum temp for these.  My thinking for putting the bigger on the bottom was just that the smaller one will be done quicker so I have have that more accessible on the top grate.  Do you think mine will have that much temp difference being the smaller WSM?  Either way I'll switch them up and put the bigger on top.  Do you add water or anything to the crock pot?  I was thinking about saving some of the drippings and possibly adding that to the crockpot.

Thanks again.
 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
7,705
1,931
Joined Sep 7, 2013
 
Thanks for all the info.I'll make 250 the minimum temp for these.  My thinking for putting the bigger on the bottom was just that the smaller one will be done quicker so I have have that more accessible on the top grate.  Do you think mine will have that much temp difference being the smaller WSM?  Do a dry run with an empty smoker.  Check the differences in temp between the top and bottom grate.  Then add something that smokes relatively fast, like two small chickens, one on each grate.  It will be well worth the effort and you'll get smoked chicken!  Either way I'll switch them up and put the bigger on top.  Do you add water or anything to the crock pot?  I was thinking about saving some of the drippings and possibly adding that to the crockpot.  BINGO!  Since you are doing the pulled port ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator, a nice bark isn't really an issue.  Wrap the meat with a little apple juice or cider around 160F IT. then cook it until it is finished.  Once you wrap it, let the chamber temp soar if it climbs.  It will just be done more quickly.  Pork is ULTRA forgiving.  

Save the drippings from the wrap, put them in a container, then in the refrigerator.  The fat will separate and leave you pure, delicious, flavor-packed gelatin.  Gelatin is pure protein.  It is the connective tissue that has melted out of the meat.  After the drippings have cooled, scrap the fat off and save it for making gravy, cooking eggs, etc.  When you reheat the meat in the crock pot, add the gelatin back to the meat.  It will melt and turn to liquid.  You can also add some apple cider.  Depending on the crowd, I've also added pineapple juice, a little (emphasize little) BBQ sauce, etc.  Don't be afraid to add more rub too.  I've had some rather bland tasting meat that needed a little help in that way. 

Thanks again.
 

nptwnsmkr

Smoke Blower
92
19
Joined Jun 17, 2014
Sounds like you're getting some good advice, here's my 2c's- I put a sand/gravel mix (commonly called pit run here) in my water pan and cover with foil when smoking in the winter, play sand works the same. This acts as a heat sink and will help hold steadier temps and less recovery time IMO. Also, look up JJ's and SoFlo's finishing sauce, both are simple to make and excellent for PP - you will not be disappointed! It will help when reheating in the crockpot as well as the drippings just like NB discribed. I put the larger on the bottom rack in my 18.5 WSM for the same reason you were thinking. I usually cram four 7-9lbers in there (2 upper & 2 lower) and run at or above 250*.  Whichever way you go, you'll be fine. Again, just my 2c's...
 

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