Where did I go wrong with this butt?? (Qview)

Discussion in 'Grilling Pork' started by wmflyfisher, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Hey guys,

    Attempted to smoke this butt a couple of days ago and things didn't really turn out how I would have liked. Finishing sauce pretty much saved the meat (IMO).

    Ok, Started with two butts. One 5.5lb that had been cut in half (by the butcher). This might have been the first mistake. Rubbed both of the butts with rub the day before. Fired the smoker up (Brinkman red gourmet smoker) about 1am with no water in the pan. Let it get good and hot. Removed butts from the fridge, unwrapped and coated with another layer of rub. Left out for about 30mins to adjust to room temp.

    Placed on the smoker at about 1:45am. Woke up every hour or so to check on temp and spray with apple juice. Pulled both butts off at 195 degrees (probably a mistake) and this is what I had.


    I didn't "poke" or touch either butt. Wrapped both in foil and set in the cooler. Pulled both out around 10am (couple hours later) and they were both tough as nails. It was obvious that the connective tissue in neither had broken down. Had to finish off in the oven wrapped in foil. Both were good but dry and not really moist. The finishing sauce mad them taste great and others thought they were fine. I wasn't really happy with it though. Where did I go wrong?? Also, why can't I get a solid bark on anything that I smoke?? Always seems that the outside just gets good and done, not a crust or anything.

    ANY help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I wouldn't have cut a 5.5# piece in half, that makes two pretty small pieces of meat. You said you took them to 195*, how many place in the meat did you check temp? I use an instant read therm and check all over the meat and sometimes see as much as 15* differences. It probably would have helped something that small to have been foiled around 150* with some juice and finished to 205*. Just my thoughts, I'm no expert.
  3. What temperature did you smoke them at? Should maintain 225° - 240°. I pull and foil at 180° now rather than 170° It gives a better bark. Then I leave them on until they hit over 200° - 205°. I never get much upside once I cooler them so I leave them on to over 200° then rest. Always fall apart juicy.

    Yours look very nice!
  4. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    I agree, the pieces were pretty small and probably dried out before they hit 195 degrees.  On mine, I foil with a little juice and then finish to 205 degrees with a rest after. 

    They look good anyway!

    Try again, you will do great.
  5. davidhef88

    davidhef88 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The next time I would take them to 205*. I would also check your therms with boiling water to make sure they are close to being right.

  6. I agree. My meat guy lives less than half a mile up the road and he didn't have any butts in chunk. They were all cut long ways so I had have one cut in half. I told him they would cook better in chunk so next time I'll get them that way. I only checked the temp in one place. Had my probe shoved in length ways to the meat. I thought it would give me the best temp. I should have checked more places than one.

    I'm not sure what temp my smoker reaches. My guess is that they were too small but why were they still so tough after 195*? Maybe I didn't check temp in enough places.
  7. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    It is possible that your probe tip was in a piece of fat or maybe touching bone and could have shown a higher temp than the meat really was. I trust my probes accuracy but I don't always trust it's location, that's why I always check multiple areas once it starts getting up to temp.
  8. mike91mr

    mike91mr Newbie

    We are our own biggest critics, so if everyone else liked it, you probably weren't too far off.

    I think everyone has given you some good pointers for next time, so I'll just comment on the bark.  You may want to try to add something sugary to the apple juice.  I've gotten great results with a 50/50 blend of apple juice and rum.

    For what it's worth, one of the most crowd pleasing pork butts I made was on the dryer side...  It still had a great flavor, and a tray was put out with bite size pieces that people just ate with their hands. 
  9. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    So, how long were they actually in the smoker? From your post it appears to have been a max of about 6 hours. Is this the electric or charcoal version of the Brinkmann? If it's the charcoal version, with no water in the pan it could have been in the 400˚ range for at least part of that time. I don't know much about the electrics. I do know that it takes time to break down connective tissue, and  moderately low temperature, and moisture. The moisture is provided by the meat itself in most cases, unless the temperature's too high, in which case it just dries out. If the family ate it and didn't complain, you have a benchmark. Nest time if things go more to your liking, they'll be even more impressed. As for the lack of a "solid bark", I'm kinda against the grain here but I'm not the biggest fan of the crusty, over-caramelized sugar thing. I like a little mahogany crust and a nice smoke ring (which appears to be exactly what you have) but that's about it.

    Long and short of it is, Monitor your smoker temp and check your meat temp in more than one spot. Also, foiling, while viewed by some as a crutch, really works wonders.
  10. lostarrow

    lostarrow Fire Starter

    Two kind of charcoal water smokers.
    A WSM type allows regulation of temp by adjusting airflow, a water heat sink is not needed.
    The brinkmanship type has no way to regulate airflow & a water pan is needed to keep temps from soaring.
    I think it got cooked on too high a temp.
  11. I also think they were cooked at too high of a temperature. Your comment of "good and hot" kind of scares me.

    My MES will hit temps well above 350 degrees with no water in the pan. When I fill the pan about half way up, it peaks about 280#.

    You really should get a oven thermometer or a probe (like the Maverick ET-372) to keep an eye on the smoker temp.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  12. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Those little Brinkmans need to be modified to allow for some temp. controll, I believe there are some threads that show what folks have done regrading those mods. Also use water in the pan... it helps to regulate temps and recover temp when you lift the lid.

    As for it being tough at 195°, think of it like this: you cook it fast and hot and you a) drive all the moisture out of the meat and b) all the meat fibers contract real fast and tighten up. Where if you cook it low and slow (220°-250°), you b) don't drive all the moisture out of the meat c) are using a gentel heat that relaxes the muscle strands and breaks down the connective tissues slowly.

    At the very least drill the dome lid and put an accurate therm in it that goes from 0° up to 400°, then you will at least have an idea of what your temps are doing without having to lift the lid constantly.
  13. Albeit you had them cooking closer to 300°. The moisture may have left the meat making the muscle dry. When you cook slow the connective tissue and muscle become tender without loosing moisture. I think someone else mentioned this too...Don't sweat it though. There is always next time. Take this butt and cut in accross the grain sliced and steam it in a foiling sauce in the crock pot on low for about 5 hours. It will make it more tender and taste really good too....That's what I would do if I had a vote...

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