1st Time Boston Butt

Discussion in 'Pork' started by treknogeek, May 26, 2013.

  1. Greetings all,

    today I am trying my first Boston Butt. Previously, I have used picnic shoulders as they were the only bone-in shoulder product in my area that was not Pre-injected with a chemistry lab. However, my best option was a 9 lb boneless butt from our local GFS.

    So, as a thank you to the countless people on this forum whose advice I have been reading for the past several months, here is some q-view.

    Here is the butt trimmed and ready for some love:

    Here I have injected it with a brine (water , vinegar, garlic powder, and pickling salt), rubbed with oil, and coated with my experimental rub (3 parts light brown sugar and 1 part proprietary protein powder):

    I am using apple wood and smoking on a TMLE. The wind changed causing a temperature spike. So, I thought I'd take a pic when I opened the lid to let some heat out. At is point it has been on for an hour and a half:

    I'll be taking it off of the smoke at 2pm (CST) to finish in the oven. More q-view to come.
  2. Why finish in the oven?  Keep Smokin!!
  3. I'm mostly finishing in the oven due to time restraints, I will save 4 hours that way. I've read that anywhere from 3-6 hrs and the meat won't take on any more smoke, so I'm splitting the difference at 4 hours. I will definitely let you guys know if I'm a hero or a zero on that one.

    Ok, here it is going in to finish in the oven:
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Lookin GOOD!!!

    There's been a lot of buzz over the years about time and internal temps stopping smoke reaction, but little actual research has been brought out in the open to verify any of this, so it's only speculation, IMHO. There are number of factors which effect smoke reaction, and the two main factors are: smoke chamber temperature; surface and internal meat temperature; surface moisture and smoke chamber humidity. Less important factors are smoke particle size, which we can control to some degree by changing the density and type of smoke; the electrical charge of smoke particles/ions in the smoke chamber (causes an attraction similar to magnets and ferrous metals, as I understand it), but that is something that we have much less control over from a backyard smoking stand-point, so we don't really need to worry about that.

    Here are the things we can control, so that's where we need to focus our attention:

    The colder the meat is, the more smoke particles will condense from the smoke chamber gases and "stick" to the meat. A dry surface or lower smoke chamber humidity has the opposite effect and reduces smoke reaction.

    So, you may be wondering how you can control smoke particle size? By changing the density and type of smoke you use. Many members preach that Thin Blue Smoke is what you want, and no White Smoke, or as little as possible, etc...'cuz they don't know what a few others here do know, and that's what they've been taught to produce for the best results in smoked meats. Thin Blue Smoke serves a purpose, but is not the only way to smoke. White smoke has it's purpose as well, and while it is not the only way to smoke, it also serves a purpose. This is just a small glimpse of the big picture here.

    Am I blowing smoke? This isn't just speculation or opinion...read this, and learn what many others don't know about...:


    Additional info regarding smoke type, density, and if I recall, particle size:


    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  5. Thanks for the links, they were informative

    Overall, the cook went well. The verdict from the crowd was that the rub/bark was a success.

    While I was pleased with the smoke ring I wasn't able to taste as much smoke as I wanted, and I think that was due to the rub. Everyone loved it, but I think I am still a salt/pepper fan.

    I served them with three homemade sauces including my new favorite, a mustard ginger sauce.
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds and looks like a pretty successful first butt smoke to me. Lack of smoke flavor would be directly related to your smoke time, and larger cuts like butts can take on smoke for a very long time. I lay it on pretty heavy on start-up of the smoke and try to keep it heavy for at least a few hours, then let it settle into a bit lighter smoke as meat temps are rising for the remainder of an 8-10 hour stretch...sometimes longer, but that's with an 18-hr+ cooking time. I get plenty of great smoke favor with that duration and density of smoke, as long as I have proper smoke chamber temps (~225-230*) and higher humidity.

    I smoked a butt in a dry smoke chamber last spring for an experiment to achieve a crisp, hard bark and improved moisture retention in the meat (which worked quite well), but also found that smoke reaction was reduced quite a bit. Since then, I use a humid smoke chamber to get better smoke, then transition to a dry smoke chamber for better bark and moisture retention in the meat...just a bit of tuning came later to make the method work for a better balance of what I wanted in my pulled pork...works quite well and is actually an easy method to use. PM me and I'll hook you up with the details, if you're interested.

    Salt and Pepper fan...like that...sometimes the KISS method is the best all around. SPOG (salt, pepper onion, garlic) is a nice combination without getting complicated...find myself using it a lot lately, even on larger cuts of pork. I have formulated my share of very good dry rub recipes, but there comes a point when a guy needs to go back to the basics and find whatever it is that seems to missing from the big picture, and that's where I've been spending a lot of time for the past year or so.

    Keep on smokin'!!! They'll get easier, and you'll take what you learn from each smoke and put into the next one...before you know it, you'll be smoking things that you wouldn't even consider for a smoke right now...but don't blame me if you get a funny look in your eye when you see your neighbor's cat...just kidding!!! LOL!!!

    Enjoy you new addiction!

  7. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    First time up to bat and you crushed it into the upper deck! Looks AMAZINGLY Delicious! 

    [​IMG]  Job well done!
  8. You know, that cat has been looking a little plump lately...

    Thank you guys for the comments. People have asked me why I have started getting into real BBQ and my answer is that it is like alchemy: something common goes in and something completely different comes out.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find the left overs moist and still smokey even after a nuking to warm them up.

    I've got another 9 lb butt to cook tomorrow for some people at work (BBQ Wednesday) along with ABTs, Mac and cheese, devolved eggs, choc cheesecake and chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Since it is already boneless, I'm thinking of cutting it in half to increase the bark ratio. Going to do some research on that first though.
  9. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Interesting , Eric. A good read for the Newbies.
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you follow the cuts from de-boning and open it up (butterfly), or cut in two following those cuts, you will still have an intact whole muscle meat, and being it was boned-out, if left closed-up, it is a compromised muscle which needs to pass through danger-zone temps of 41-135* (used to be 40-140*) in 4 hours...including prep time, if it warms-up...which typically it will, but if it's very cold (33-35*) before handling helps a lot.

    Nothing to it, really...I'd do the same thing if I were you...less to worry about when you fire up the smoker...it does give us good reason to want to buy bone-in shoulder cuts though, doesn't it?

    BTW, leftover pulled pork, brisket and such always seems to taste better to the chef the next day...smoke will desensitize your smell after just an hour or two, and your taste for the smoke will be reduced as well...next day, it all comes back and everything tastes so much better...just a minor drawback to being the smoke chef....LOL!!!

    Oh, regarding the smoke chamber humidity method I was talking about earlier...from my sig line:


    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  11. Cool, thanks Eric. I really appreciate all the feedback. I'll be sure to post some picks of the split butt.
  12. OK, here is some qview on my cut up pork butt.

    Here is the factory cut for the bone:

    Based on its location, I chose to cut the butt into three parts. I'm using the same rub as before but am smoking with both apple and cherry woods:

    And here are some ABTs and mushrooms going on...

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