I need your help with LEAN Pork Butt

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jdh8504, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. jdh8504

    jdh8504 Newbie

    I recently got into smoking and bought an MES 30 from Bass Pro Shops. I also received some cuts of hog from a local butcher, and have smoked 2 shoulders so far. These shoulders look leaner than the ones I see in the grocery store, and they have come out drier than I would like. The first one couldn't even be pulled (I had to slice it instead) and the second one was more tender, but not quite up to snuff. 

    Here was my process on the second one, which turned out slightly better than the first: Applied Rub and let it sit in the fridge for 3 days. Let it rest on counter for an hour while smoker was heating. Set the heat to 235 and put the shoulder in at 7 pm. Let it go overnight and checked it at 9 am. It was at 180, so I wrapped it in foil and stuck it back in for another 2 hours. This brought it to 205. Took it out, wrapped in in hot towels and put in a cooler for an hour.

    It turned out OK, but did not have the moisture it should have. Any suggestions on what I could do with a leaner cut like this? 
  2. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't remember a butt that was dry....... And I don't foil, brine, or anything else.

    I rub (except for salt and sugar) the night before. I rub brown sugar and salt just before the pit, make sure you use enough sugar so that you can see it liquefying but a light coating.

    220 to 230 smoker temp, and at 203 Internal temperature I pull. I don't wrap or foil anywhere in the process. I also probably don't open the MES door 3 or 4 times tops the entire smoking process.

    At 203 I take it out, lay a kitchen towel over the Butt and allow to sit 30 mins to and hour. I always as use my toothpick to test it. Never trust a thermometer! BTW I am assuming you have calibrated your MES to insure its accuracy?

    I have never had a problem with my MES. The only two ways I know to lose moisture in an MES, over cooking and opening the door.
  3. jdh8504

    jdh8504 Newbie

    I will have to look into the toothpick test method. Also, I have not calibrated my MES as I do not have the proper equipment yet. I have a hunch that it is running lower than the display reads. It really should not take 13 hours with no door opening to cook a 5 lb Butt.
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF JDH8504.  Be sure to stop in at Roll Call and introduce yourself so folks can say "hi!"

    Shoulder is just one tough cut of pork and a lean one doesn't help things any.  The good news is that a shoulder has a lot of tough connective tissue that melts at the higher temps, keeping the meat juicy.

    3 days in the fridge with just a surface rub, especially a salty one on a leaner cut of meat, can pull a lot of essential liquid out of the meat. Try cutting that to 24 hours or not at all, just putting the rub on before it goes on the smoker.

    Another suggestion would be to inject your lean shoulders with brine then brine it for 18-24 hours in the fridge.   A brine puts liquid and flavor into the meat because the liquid in the meat and the liquid in the brine change places down to the cellular level.  Now, most of that liquid will evap out at lower temps on the smoker at the stalls, but the brine provides deep flavor and a better start to your smoke as the your leaner pork shoulder climbs through the physical and chemical changes on its way to your 205F target temp.

    Inject, brine, wash, dry, then rub just prior to putting on the smoker.  Can't hurt to give it a try.  I have two leaner looking, injected boneless pork butts brining as I type in fresh pressed apple juice, spices, and a little apple cider vinegar.   You could skip the pink salt if you don't have any.

    Apple Juice Pork Brine

    Makes enough for up to 12 lb of meat.

    1/2 tsp Prague #1 Pink Salt
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    1 Tbs onion powder
    1  Tbs garlic powder
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 cup dark brown sugar
    1 quart Simply Apple fresh pressed apple juice
    1/4 cup  Apple Cider Vinegar
    1 quarts ice 
    1 quart water


    1. Using large pot or Dutch oven to mix all the brine ingredients except the ice and the last quart of water.  Stir over low heat to mix and dissolve while stirring.  Turn off heat as soon as all the ingredients are mixed.  Add the ice.  The brine should be cold before adding the pork.

    2. Rinse the fresh or thawed butts under cold water then place in the brine.  Inject the meat while sitting in the brine.  Pour the remaining brine and last quart of water over the meat, seal or cover and store for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator or a cooler packed with ice jugs.  Brining for more than 24 hours is not recommended. This process will produce a tender, juicy final product because the salt in the brine changes the protein structure of the meat.

    3. After brining, drain and discard the brine. Rinse the pork again then prep them for smoking, baking, or BBQ'ing.

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