1st attempt at smoking led to Butt troubles

Discussion in 'Pork' started by smoker-noob, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. smoker-noob

    smoker-noob Newbie

    OK, I just got a masterbuilt electric smoker.  I pre-seasoned it and was excited to give smoking a try.  I went out and got a 9.5 pound slab of pork butt.  I seasoned it with some rub(forgot the mustard to help it stick). In looking at this site, I figured 1.5 hours per pound so I woke up at 3:00 this morning and set the smoker for 225 degrees and got it going. 

    Now the problem is that when I checked on it around 9:00 the meat thermometer was already reading 170 degrees.  I figured it would take at least 12 hours to reach that temp. 

    I turned it down to give it more time, but I'm afraid the damage is already done and it won't be very tender and juicy.  I thought I followed the directions pretty well, but I don't know what went wrong.  I'd love some help!  Should I just start at lower temps?  Has anyone else had this kind of a problem? 

    I'm hoping for a summer of smoking, but this isn't a good start.
  2. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    sounds like cooking temp was to high... were you using the stock thermometer or are you using a remote therm with a probe at grate level... If your just using the stock therm, you really need to check into getting a a digital probe thermometer... 99% of the time the stock therms are WAY off...
    smoker-noob likes this.
  3. smoker-noob

    smoker-noob Newbie

    The masterbuilt has a whole deal where you digitally set the temperature, so I'd say it was the stock thermometer.   The digital probe thermometer you mentioned, is that to keep track of the general temp of the smoker or the meat temp?  Is it something that stays in the smoker to tell the temp?  I definitely need to see if that's the problem, but that would suck as I'll have to figure out how far off the stock one is.  Thanks for the idea.
  4. kryinggame

    kryinggame Smoking Fanatic

    Hey man, it takes  a lil bit before you perfect smoking.

    I always smoke at 225 degrees and will never adjust the temperature. Here's what I do, step by step, using the method provided by Meowey:

    Basic Pulled Pork Smoke

    I’ve been reading a lot of posts from newer members asking questions on how to smoke a butt or picnic for pulled pork. The Mods have made this a “Sticky”.

    Please feel free to add comments or additions to procedures described here that you use, like tips and tricks of the trade.

    Choice of meat:

    I use bone in Pork ShoulderBoston Butt for my pulled pork. They range from 5 to 9 pounds. I find mine at Sam’s club cryo-packed with two butts per pack. Sometimes you can find them in supermarkets, or if you have a source at a meat wholesaler you can get them there. Some folks use a fresh pork picnic which is the Butt (Shoulder) and the upper front leg bone together. They are larger than the Butt alone.


    About 12 hours before the meat goes in the smoker, trim a little if desired (I usually don’t), apply a coating of your rub of choice, and wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. (Some folks put on a coat of yellow mustard before the rub to hold the rub on and add to the bark. The mustard taste cooks out. This is a matter of personal preference.)


    I can’t give instructions for each type of smoker, as I have experience only with mine. (GOSM and CharGriller w/ SFB) Check the forums for that info.

    Start your smoker and get it up to 225-240 degrees F. My personal wood choice for pork is hickory. Unwrap the meat, stick in the probe of your digital thermo (A highly recommended accessory.), and place the meat in the smoker, fat side down. I don't flip butts as it interferes with bark formation. Fat side down helps protect the meat if you have a temp spike. After the meat gets over 100F I spray it every hour with a 3 to 1 mix of apple juice and Captain Morgan’s Original spiced rum. I have used bourbon instead of rum, but my family prefers the taste of the rum spray. The sugars in the juice and booze will caramelize, and add to the bark. (Bark - dark outer crust that develop as the meat cooks.) Others will make good suggestions for alternate sprays. You will develop your own favorite with a little experimentation. (The nice thing is that they all taste good!)


    When the meat gets to about 165F, double wrap it in Heavy Duty aluminum foil. Put some of your spray of choice in the foil to help braise the meat. At this point I usually stop making smoke unless there are other things in the smoker that need the smoke. (You can finish cooking from this point on in the oven set at 250F if the weather changes or you want to save smoker fuel.) Continue to cook until the internal meat temps gets to 195-205F. Remove the foiled meat from the cooker and wrap it (still foiled) in a couple old bath towels and put it in an insulated cooler to rest for at least an hour before you pull it.

    The Plateau:

    Almost all butts (and briskets – but that’s in the beef forum) will hit a plateau where the temps of the meat stops rising. Don’t be tempted to raise the heat as that will dry out the meat. The meat is absorbing a lot of heat at this point while the connective tissue is breaking down. This is what makes the meat tender. Low and slow is the way to go! I’ve seen some actually drop in temp by a couple degrees. Patience – it may be over an hour before the temp starts climbing.


    There are several choices here, some folks use two forks, there is a tool called bear claws, Dutch puts hunks of it in his Mixmaster with the dough blade to pull. I use my hands. I un-foil the meat, the bone usually falls out on it’s own, and I break it apart in to big pieces that I let cool for a few minutes. I then go through each piece and pull out the extra gunk (technical term for fat and connective tissue) and shred by hand.


    I serve my pulled pork with my sauce(s) of choice on the side. I will add some of SoFlaQuers finishing sauce (another sticky here in the pork forum) to the pork just after I’ve shredded it. My personal favorite way to eat it is on a cheap white bun (CWB) with a little BBQ slaw right on the pork in the sandwich.

    Time of smoke:

    The general rule of thumb is that it will take about 1.5 hours of cooking at 225-240F per pound. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline as each piece of meat is different. Go by temp not time to know when it's done. Someone here said, "The meat will be done in it's own good time." I once had two 8 pound butts finish an hour apart in time. Give yourself extra time, you can always keep it wrapped in the cooler a little bit longer before you have to serve. It's hard to rush a piece of meat if it does not want to be rushed.

    Hope this helps!!

    smoker-noob likes this.
  5. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes... even though the electrics have built in therms... they are usually off... the maverick ET-732 has 2 probes... one for the meat and one for the chamber.. yes you do leave the probes in the whole time your smoking.. it also has a remote receiver that you can carry with you and monitor temps without having to stand by the smoker the whole time... If you check with Todd (a member here) at A-Maz-N-Smoker (he's also a sponsor of this site). You will find his link at the right of the page... he has good deals and good customer service... but yes, you really do need some kind of thermometer at grate level (right next to the meat). Then you can tell how much the stock therm. is off... Some of the electric guys will be along shortly to help you even better than I can...
    smoker-noob likes this.
  6. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To echo Keith, it's imperative to calibrate any of the therms used in your smoke process either for the pit temp, or the meat temp. Don't give up, give it another try with a smaller butt, and I bet it will be much more rewarding for you.
    smoker-noob likes this.
  7. smoker-noob

    smoker-noob Newbie

    Well, after eating, the butt still got great reviews, but I know it could be better.  I'll definitely be checking and calibrating the temp.  The meat thermometer seems to be accurate as I compared it with another one, but I'm doubting the accuracy of the smoker thermometer.  Thanks for all the advice.  I'm trying to decide what to try next.  I'm thinking ribs or salmon.
  8. Glad everything turned out fine. I, too, have an MES 30 and was afraid the stock meat probe was off so I picked up a digital remote one from Lowes. Lo and behold, the MES themometer was on (also checked against an old fashioned dial type therm). I'll be up bright and early later (7am) to get my butt in the smoker.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Just to add another possibility, when the IT temp reading does not seem right...Probe in a couple of different places. You may have placed the Probe shallow, in fat, next to the bone or too deep, rather than centered...JJ
  10. 6 hours to get to 170 isn't too awful bad. Glad it came out OK.
  11. Glad it came out for you. I have an MES 40 and have checked its temps against 2 others and the meat probe is only off by 2*, which truthfully I was a bit surprised. As far as smoker temp, mine usually runs about 5* hotter from time to time. Keep trying, it takes a few smoking runs to get familiar with your smoker.
  12. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Glad it turned out good for you and great reviews are always nice to hear.

Share This Page