First Pork Butt questions

Discussion in 'Pork' started by fastfusion, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. Firing up my first pork butt this weekend for some pull pork I have some questions for the veterans.

    #1. Keep the fat cap on or trim it off. I have read some posts that have said the fat cap on pork is not as important as on a brisket.
    #2. I plan on using Oak, but I am considering hickory, any thoughts ??
    #3. Any thoughts on what I should look for when buying this cut of pork ?

    The rest of the plan. 1.5 p/pound @225 until 160 wrap in foil until 205 foil/towel/cooler for hour or so...
  2. melleram

    melleram Smoke Blower

    Lose the fat cap...pork shoulder has plenty of'll just be picking it out when pulling.

    Oak is good Hickory is better in my opinion.

    Look for fresh meat and cheap (wouldn't pay over 1.50 per lb)...Its not a cut of meat that you have to worry about how its will all be shreadded anyways.
  3. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    You'll get differing opinions on the fat cap. Some like to leave it on **me** and some take it off.

    You can't go wrong either way with using oak or hickory. White oak is traditional in the east and hickory is used a lot elsewhere. You can even mix them up. Oak is going to be more mellow.

    If you have a Sam's Club in your area, that's the place to go get your pork butts. They usually come two to a package. If you don't want to cook them both at the same time, wrap the other one real good and freeze it.. just use it in a reasonable amount of time before you get freezer burn on it.

    Keep us up to date on your smoke.

    Edit** Plan your smoke for cooking to temperature and not time. You can always wrap something up and toss in the cooler if it's done way ahead of time but if you plan to eat at a certain time and you get a temperature hang... which you will... then the last thing you want is panic time because something is not done. If you keep your temperatures in the 225 range, generally speaking it will take 11 - 16 hours depending on size of butt and how often you open the lid to your pit.
  4. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Rest of the plan looks good. The 1 1/2 hours per pound is only a rough guideline
  5. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1. Trim the fat. There's no point is smoking what you're not going to eat and like Fastfusion said, there's plenty of fat marbled into the meat.
    2. I've never used oak, but have done butt with hickory and it was tasty.
    3. Look to make sure it's not a product that is injected with anything. Often times I find the Hormel (but could be many other brands) that pre-inject their meats with a type of brine solution. I don't like it. And I don't know what the heck it is they're putting in it. If you want to inject, do it yourself so you know what you're getting.

    Know that a butt can stall too. So the 1.5 hours per pound is more of a guidline.

    Good luck and keep us updated.
  6. olewarthog

    olewarthog Meat Mopper

    Trimming the fat cap seems to be gaining popularity. I never have, and almost gave it a try on the last butts I smoked, but changed my mind at the last minute. Those that do trim appear to produce some good PP too. Same deal with fat cap up or down while cooking. I have always done mine fat cap up, but those of the down persuasion get the job done too. Bottom line --butts are very forgiving.

    Either oak or hickory would be a good choice. Neither one would tend to overpower the meat.

    Butts tend to be pretty consistent so just be sure it looks fresh. Our stores will generally put them on sale for $.89 or $.99/# every 2-3 weeks.

    Sometimes butts will have a mind of their own & I have never found one wearing a watch. Time/# is nothing but a rough guesstimate. You want to take them to 190-195 internal temp before you pull them off the smoker. A 1 hour rest is good. 2 hours is better. Just be sure you don't put your self in a rush. I normally figure the 1.5 hr/# then add at least 3 hours to allow for weather, stalls etc. If if finishes early, just let it rest in the cooler. I have pulled foiled butts from a cooler after 4+ hours & they were still to hot to handle.
  7. i have a remote probe, do you take the temp in mulitple locations ? is there any good place to put it for the entire time ?
  8. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Once I hit my target temp, I most always check another area just to be sure. And make sure you're not up against or too close to the bone.
  9. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As for the fat I always trim BUT I leave about 1/4" on it.
    As others have said it will cook just fine either way but I agree that there is no reason to rub up a piece if you are just going to remove it after anyway.
    Usually do hickory with my butts but oak is great as well, just remember that oak burns a bit hotter than hickory.
    Make sure you spritz about every hour after the first hour and when puttin gin the foil a lot of folks will add a splash of their spritzing agent. I usually do but a few times forgot to add extra liquid and it worked out fine.
    The absolute longest I let a butt rest in a cooler was 7 hours. I wanted to see how long it could sit until it went down to the danger zone and that was a 7 hour rest.
    When taking it out of the foil to shred make sure to save the juices from the foil. Add some back to the pork before serving along with a few shakes of your rub and a good finishing sauce and you should have a great feast.
    Once I had an 8lb butt cook all the way to temp in under 5 hours! Probed several places to make sure and yup, it was done all the way to 205.
    Meat really does have a mind all its own.
  10. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I cut some fat cap off not much though. I like it I have used hickory and oak and perfer apple or cherry. Another I just like it. Make sure you have a good tested temp probe so you don't over cook it. Next we have a Sams near us that carries alot of good cutts of meat some do some don't. Other than that your plan seems to be alright so go smoke it and don't forget the Qview. Cause WE like that.
  11. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    great advice given here - the only thing i can add is that you might want to consider a higher cooking temperature, more like 240 or 250.

    i try to stay in this range and never go higher than 250, but i prefer barbeuce cooked at this temperature over barbecue cooked at 225.
  12. dexter

    dexter Smoke Blower

    It is great to have the veterans!!!!!!!!!
  13. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Can you really taste the differance Ron? I'll go 240~250 because I can't taste the difference, meaning I can cook a little quicker without any loss of flavor.
  14. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    steve - it seems to me that barbecue cooked at 225 dries out on the outside somewhat amd i end up with something like jerky covering the meat inside. also, at higher temps, the meat tends to brown a bit or somethng that, to me, adds a good savory flavor.
  15. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Let me throw one more iron in the fire here.
    I trim the fat cap off b4 rubbing and smoking.
    here's my question: Has anyone tried searing a butt b4 smoking???
    I do this w/ low fat cuts of beef as i think it helps retain some moisture.
    It doesn't allow as pretty of a smoke ring but the meat still has a great smokey flavor.
    You wouldn't need to do this w/ pork butts as they have plenty of fat to provde internal moisture when smoked . But I am wondering if searing would add to the flavor??
  16. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Actually once you wrap it in foil, if you wrap it in foil, try kicking your temps up to as much as 325º. You'll get done sooner and will not notice any difference in the finished butt [​IMG]

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