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Splitting a Boston Butt

Discussion in 'Pork' started by marlin009, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. Using meowey's tutorial I did my first Butt this past weekend. It turned out fantastic! Thanks meowey! The only thing I changed was that I did not foil it on the smoker. It was 6.5 pounds (boneless) and took right at 12 hours to hit 200 and I took it off. I did wrap it at that time in foil and towels and put it in a cooler for about an hour. I did take a pic before I put it on but forgot to take any after I took it off or pulled it. [​IMG]  Oh well, next time.  

    My question is could I take one and split it in half prior to cooking and cook two smaller ones? I was thinking it would reduce the cooking time but I don't know if it might create other problems or if there is any disadvantage to this. Would it be better to buy two smaller ones rather than splitting it?

    I am using a Chargriller Pro with the SFB.


  2. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Since you are doing boneless butts ,yes you could split it and yes it will reduce your smoke time . But it won't reduce it by half. We had this conversation a while back and the math crowd said that if it takes X ammount of time to smoke a 8 lb butt ,You cut it exactly in half . Now you have 2 , 4 lb butts then X / time should also be exactly cut in half.

      It doesn't work that way.

     Glad your first butt came out great!
  3. If you want to do it quicker you might want to consider just picking up some "country style spare ribs."  That's butcher code for boston butt that is cut up into rib sized pieces.  You can often get a really good deal on them since they seem to do it with overstocked butts and want to move them fast.  I think I saw them in the local Harris Teeter this week for $1.89 per pound.  I've found you can cook them to pull-able temps in about half the time of a butt.  If I see them on sale I'll cook them as ribs for dinner and then pull the leftovers and mix them with a little finishing sauce for pulled pork the next day.

    My $.02,

  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I echo what Bob said. 1/2 does not = half the time to smoke. My guess is that you might drop 1/3 off the time but remember we recommend you cook by temp not time
  5. I've heard of the new math, this must be smoking math. [​IMG]   After reading some of the threads on here, I was just happy it didn't take 18 hours. I got a little nervous when it hit the plateau but I was prepared, I had plenty of beer chilled and the Bucs on the laptop. [​IMG]

    The boneless butt was by accident. When my wife ordered it from the butcher that was what she told them, we hadn't discussed that, just the weight. Is one better than the other? It's hard to believe that anything could be better than what I made Sunday but then I have been suprised several times in the last two months with my smoking.

    Scarbelly - I am definitely going by temp. First time using my ET-7, and it worked great.
  6. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I think that a bone in taste a little better.

    And believe it or not. A bone in butt smokes a little quicker.

    The bone conducts heat to the inside of the butt so it cooks a little faster
  7. cobble

    cobble Smoke Blower

    While we're on the subject of meat cuts...

    I have the hardest time finding a bone-in pork butt locally. I can find bone-in picnics, and boneless butts very easily, but in my area, a bone-in pork butt might as well be a unicorn haunch, because I cant find either one. What is the difference between a bone-in butt, and a picnic? Can I use the picnic for pulled pork? Is the preparation any different? Do you trim off the outer skin, or...?
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Yes you are still smoking the same amount of meat even if you cut it in half. The meat is gonna cook in it's own sweet time no matter what you do to it. Unless of course you take it out and put into a pressure cooker then it will cook faster. Much faster
  9. Cooking pork ribs is also a great way to try different rubs and sauces. This past weekend I cooked up 20 lbs of pork ribs, I used 6 different rubs and 4 sauces. It was a cheep, great way to try different things. Give it a try.
  10. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    A picnic is closer to the hock of the pig's front leg.  The small side of the picnic goes to the hock and the large side of the picnic attaches to the butt.  The butt is higher on the shoulder of the pig.

  11. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Also in my opinion the Boston butt is much tastier than the picnic shoulder, but I guess it is supposed to be, because it is "Higher on the Hog" (see Al's illustration).

    Just my 2 pennies,

  12. I understand the low and slow method, I'm not trying to do this fast. I was just curious. Clearly, with more surface area exposed to direct heat, the cooking time should be less, and I agree, not by half. If cutting one in half or buying two smaller ones would produce inferior pulled pork, then I don't want to do it. 
  13. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    No it will not produce inferior pork. The rub is the same, the heat is the same, the pig is the same. You should come out w/ the same results just in a slightly shorter ammount of time.
  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Also if you're partial to great tasting bark, there is a chance for you to get a lot more of it, with two 4 pounders, instead of one 8 pounder!

  15. bigal

    bigal Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Marlin, I've done b.butts fast by going up to 300 pit temp.  Also did a brisket hot and fast and both turned out great.  I do them a little different though.  I like do'n the butts hot'n fast to 200 or so, then pull and keep all juice and put all in an alum foil pan.  Then about 3hrs before we are to eat(I usually smoke and pull the day/night before and let cool in fridge)  I put the pan back in the smoker at about 200-225 and add more rub and ACVinegar and mix it all up every 1/2hr to 45 min.  Mix and taste till I like it.  This adds more rub and smoke flavor on all the meat.  One prob is crust is kinda gone, unless you save it separate.  A little crunch of crust but not as much as off the smoker and into a pan. 

    Butts are real forgiving.

    Just an idea.
  16. That's a good point Bear, I'm very partial. If there are two pieces left on the plate, I'm snagging the one with the crispy parts. Actually, I'll probably take both of them but I'll eat the barky one first. [​IMG]

    Good to know there are options but I'm going to stick with the standard method. The results I've had with the butt and ribs so far has been hard to beat.   
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010