37#'s of Butts for a banquet

Discussion in 'Pork' started by stjoeguy1122, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. My first big smoke . . . I was asked by the Saint Joseph Figure Skating Club to smoke up some pork in the way of pulled pork for the spring banquet and since I am a Board Member I really couldn’t say no.

    I picked up 37 pounds of Butts from Sam’s Club thinking that it would feed about 55 people. I injected and applied Jeff’s rub, wrapped in plastic wrap and tossed in frig until Saturday night. My thinking is that each butt is about 7 pounds, so about 9-10 hours to get them to 165 IT and 2 more hours to reach 205 IT with smoker at 225-235.

    Please correct me if my numbers are off. I will add more pictures Sunday.

  2. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    I do not think you can be 100% certain the butts will reach 205 from 165 in two hours.  In fact, I'll wager at least one of your 5 butts won't.  You can help the process by wrapping in foil but even then I am not sure 2 hours is 100%.
  3. what are you using for a smoker? i'm thinking around 15+or- hours

  4. I don't think they will all go that fast. If you injected remember the 40 degrees - 140 degrees in 4 hours safety rule. Let us know how they turn out.
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Your amount of meat is fine keeping to 5 oz portions, a nice Sandwich. Beyond the that 11 to 12 hours for 7 lb avg Butts is not enough time. Also Injecting adds more moisture that extends the Stall Time somewhat. I would add a 4-5 Hour CYA smoke/rest Pad to your timing. Yes, under " Typical " conditions, this time of year and with good steady heat control in your smoker, 2 hours per pound at 225*F will get it done...BUT...You are doing A LOT of meat, with extra moisture, for an event where people are counting on you...They will not be so forgiving as your loving family if S#!T happens and the Cook runs over a couple hours!!!  Add the CYA Time or run the smoker 250-275*F range still banking on 2hrs/lb or a good 14 hours. You can always Foil and Rest in a cooler if done early...Good Luck...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
  6. Thanks for all the input!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is why I like this site, so much helpful info and great advice . . I will adjust my clock and 'pad' a little extra in . . .
    I will be using my Masterbuilt XL, wasn't planning on 15+ hours but I will adjust for that, Thanks!
    I do plan on foiling them when they hit 165 IT, added about a 1/4 of drippings to each one. 
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'll 3rd (or is it 4th) that those butts will not climb from 165* to 205* in 2 hours.  I smoke 4 of the Sam's Club butts on my WSM all the time and that has never happened in all the years I've done it.  Usually there is a stall at 180'ish.  I smoked mine at 225* the entire time, never foiled at any point in the smoke, and it usually took around 16 to 18 hours (more often than not the 18 hour figure).

    Since you say you are going to be foiling, you could crank up the temp some to gain speed after the butts are foiled and you "might" be able to make that 165 to 205 jump in 2 hours.  Trade off is the bark will be very soft on foiled butt but the flavor will still be excellent.

    One other point I would make from my experience.  Seems if I'm doing 1 butt or 6, the time is about the same.  The meat mass mostly affects the time it takes for the smoker to recover from opening and initial start up.  As long as your heat source is up to the task, I don't think meat mass makes that big of a difference in the overall cook time.  You will burn through fuel quicker in a charcoal or stick burner trying to keep the temp where you want it with more mass, but again as long as the heat source can keep up, I don't think it really matters how many butts you are smoking time wise.  Since you are using electric, there is no fuel source issue to worry about as long as the element is up to the task (and it probably is). No scientific facts to back me up on this, just my impression after years of smoking various numbers of butts in my 18" WSM (usually 4 at a time - and I do use a Guru power draft so fire temp control is spot on).  Mileage may vary in another smoker or one set up differently (no power draft).
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
  8. thanks for all the great advice from everyone . . . I adjusted my clock and started earlier, so far so good.

    after 13 hours in the smoker, wrapped in foil and now the waiting/pacing   :) 

  9. everything went great, the timing was spot on . . . no left overs at all. sorry I can't post a picture because my daughter deleted it by mistake

    but I have a question, when I pulled from the smoker, wrapped in towel and placed in a cooler to transport to banquet sight (about 55 minutes) they seemed to be a bit soggy when I opened them up, I was wondering if I might of added to much dripping back into the foil when I wrapped them to bring up to 205 IT, to much injection to start with or maybe my prior ones were just a little dry . .  any thoughts ?????

    thanks again for the advice
  10. Not trying to hijack this thread, but do you find yourself having to add fuel during your WSM butt smokes?
  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You are absolutely right, for the most part.  [​IMG]   225 is 225, regardless of how much mass is in your smoker  Recovery time when adding the meat will definitely be affected.  And it will also require more fuel, ie. more heat to bring the chamber back up to 225 and hold it there.

    Something very important though is that most smokers do not have consistent chamber temps throughout.  The temp on one rack will be different than the temp on another.  With vertical smokers, as you load the racks up, the meat on the lower shelf will act as a heat baffle.   For example, my SH44 has 5 shelves and when fully loaded, there can be quite a bit of temperature difference from top to bottom.   Meats on the upper shelves will simply take more time to cook.  For the most part, your options are to either accept this and plan accordingly, or, rotate your items during the cook.  Even then, it will still take more time overall than it would just to cook 2 butts sitting on a single shelf.

    Can't speak to the WSM as I've never cooked on one.  Perhaps Weber found a way to more evenly distribute the heat no matter how the WSM is loaded ?
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you are going in a Cooler, it is a good practice to actually take the meat out of the Smoker at 195-200*F tops. The meat will continue to cook and the collagen will continue to break down in the cooler for some time. So pull early and let it finish in the cooler. If you pulled at 205*F the meat probably went to 210*F+ so it essentially overcooked and got mushy...JJ
  13. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    JJ's  got you covered with great advice.   If my butts are to rest over 2 hrs.  I will pull them at 190-195.   Plus, if I'm packing a cooler full of butts, the heat is even more intense then just a couple butts. 

    Edit:   Just a note.  At 250 it usually take me 6 hrs to reach 160 IT.   Foil, 4-5 hours to 200 IT. 
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  14. thanks Jimmy, I will add all this info to my 'work in progress' file and adjust the next time . . the club is already asking me to smoke up some more butts for the Fall Fling . .
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  15. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes, I plan on it.  You can nurse a WSM and get 18 hour on a load, but I like my sleep and charcoal is cheap.  On a 4 shoulder overnight smoke for my office, I try to get the meat on by 2PM, top off the charcoal ring around 11PM and check it when I first get up around 6AM.  If all is still going well, I get ready and eat breakfast.  Usually will be at 195* by anywhere from 8 to 10AM depending on if the meat stalled and for how long.  Into the cooler and off to the office we go for steaming hot pulled pork for the masses at lunch.  I do use a BBQ Guru DigiQ2 powerdraft and let it control the temps. I've done this dozens of times and never had an issue while I slept.

    We now return you to your regularly schedule thread.....
  16. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nice job! They look good!

    IMO, if a butt gets foiled + juice (braising), the bark has no choice but to get soft. I've always foiled and took them to 205°F.... can't say any of them turned out mushy. Maybe next time I'll try the no-foil method.

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