pork butt has got me stumped this time!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by flyweed, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    Hey guys..for those of you that know me, know I've been smoking for a while now, and have pork butts, brisket, ribs, chicken pretty much down pat...but last nights smoke has got me stumped.

    I just got a Kamado/BGE type cooker a few days ago..and this was my second smoke on it.  I brought the Kamado up slowly to 235F and then put on a dry rubbed 3.2lb pork butt (yeah just a small guy)  this was at 3:30pm....I figured the butt would hit 200F around 11pm or so, maybe a bit later if it stalled out during the cook.

    Sure enough about 7:30pm...the butt hit 164F....and sat there and slowly worked it's way up to 168F over the next 2.5 hours.  Smoker temp still at 235F.  Finally started to climb again and reached a temp of 188F about  12:30am.........since it was only 12F outside temp, my Kamado was starting to actually cool down with my vents closed down so far..so I opened them up, as my temp had dropped to about 218F in the cooker..so I got it back up to 240F and decided to set the alarm on my ET732 and go to bed, and have the beeper go off when the pork butt hit 200F

    Well I wake up at 4am this morning and my ET-732 STILL only was reading 196F..what the hell?????  this little pork butt has now been on the smoker over 12 hours....my charcoal was getting cool again, so I brought the butt into the house wrapped it in a towl and put it in the oven to rest, and call it good.  the outside of the pork butt has an excellent bark on it

    But my questions are...why didn't such a small but finish sooner, and NEVER reached 200F in almost 12 hours of cooking at 235-240F

    I just can't figure this one out. 

  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, morning.... Here is my guess..... Since the temp was 12 deg... the humidity dropped to an all time low... I think that increased the evaporative cooling rate on the butt.... It is early here and I'm not sure I'm too awake.... Dave 
  3. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Getting a new smoker broke in brings up a few issues.

    Prolly just takes a bit of smoke time to get it figured out.

    The reason I dont smoke with my BGE is it is very persnickity about holding temp.

    Lifting the lid for a peek or adding chips/chunks really affects the temps too.

    I got a adaptor to use the guru on mine ..but havent tried it yet!!

  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dan - I had a small one do the same thing. It took 13 hours to finish and it was just as moist inside as one that cooked in the normal time - go figure
  5. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    Craig....well this is my second smoke on my Kamado and I have found NO issues whatsoever keeping and holding low and slow smoking temps....Like I said, I fired it up to right around 240F at start, and closed the dampers down a bit and she held at around 235F for almost a 12 hour cook, on maybe a 3/4's full firebox with Royal Oak lump. And that was with the temp outside hovering between 12-16F all afternoon/night.  So temps weren't an issue at all.

    And I am a FIRM believer in "if you're looking, you ain't cooking"...........I did not lift the lid once the entire cook. so I had no heat loss from lifting and peaking at all.
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sometimes they just do that. Every butt & brisket I have done seems to cook differently, but if your patient with the stubborn ones, sometimes they are the best ones.
  7. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic


    yeah...of all the butt and briskets I've done now, they have ALL been different..but never had one stall out at 196F..and sit there for 4 hours at the end of a smoke. Just weird

    Course this is the FIRST time I've never foiled either.  I did this smoke on a recomendation of another BGE smoker..and he said put the butt on and forget about it until it hits 200F..then take it off.  I never hit 200!!!! :)
  8. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    When they stall at that high a temp I check them with a toothpick in several places. If it goes in without any resistance then they are done. If there is still resistance I bump the temp up 10 degrees & that usually finishes them off.
  9. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    Al..well it sat in aluminum foil from 4am - noon, as we were busy doing list minute christmas shopping, etc..and I finally took it out and it pulled apart with no problem.  It did not just "fall off the bone" like most of mine do, but it still came off pretty easy.  The outside bark was a bit too dry for my like (I chalk that up for having to be in the oven for to long)..otherwise it had a nice smoke ring, and the meat inside was nice and tender...I mixed up some finishing sauce, and mixed it into the meat, and we ate it up. So all's good.

  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Glad it turned out OK. Each time I smoke something I find out something new. Very seldom do I come up with the "perfect smoke". When it happens I can only hope it's when we have a bunch of people over.
  11. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    So 196° is within 4° of 200°, no difference IMHO. I have stopped being so persnickity about getting butts up to temp, I've had butts done at 182°, seldom bother to go to 200°. If the probe goes in with no resistance it's done in my book. 
  12. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

     The stall is actually the meat sweating.

    This is an interesting experiment.

    It's that simple. The meat is sweating, and the moisture evaporates and cools the meat just like sweat cools you after cutting the lawn. Here's how he proved it.


    He charted a cook of a brisket on a thermostatically controlled smoker. In his test (see the chart to the right) you can see the stall starts after about 2 to 3 hours of cooking at about 150°F and then lasts about 6 hours before the temp begins rising again. Your graph may vary depending on the type of meat, its size, and your cooker, but the curve should be similar.

    Next he did some calculations and determined that the amount of energy required to melt the collagen would be far less that that consumed during the stall. A pork shoulder is about 65% water, 18% protein, 15% fat, and 2% sugars and minerals. About 1/4 of the protein, about 4% of the meat, is collagen.

    Here's the logic: The fuel in your cooker (oxygen plus charcoal, gas, or pellets) burns and produces energy which enters the cooking chamber in the form of heat. Some of it escapes through the metal sides and some goes out the vents, but some is absorbed by the cold meat. When it heats, some of the energy is used up raising the temp of the entire hunk, some of it is used in changing the chemistry and physical structure of the molecules in the meat, and some is used to melt fat and evaporate moisture. Pork shoulders and brisket have relatively high connective tissue content. These connective tissues form a sheath around muscle cells that connect them to each other, it sheaths bunches of muscles into fibers, it encases fibers into whole muscles, and it connects muscles to bone in the form of tendons and ligaments. Some are made of really tough stuff called elastin. But some are made of collagen. But the math didn't add up. There's just not enough collagen to suck up all the energy necessary to prevent the meat from increasing in temp. So it had to be something else, and his final test proved it.

    [​IMG]Hypothesizing that the stall might be evaporative cooling, but still wondering if it may be fat melting, Blonder took a lump of pure beef fat from the fridge, inserted a thermometer probe, and placed it in a thermostatically controlled smoker. He also soaked a large cellulose sponge in water, shook it out, inserted a probe and placed it next to the fat. Then he set the smoker for 225°F.

    The results are pretty clear. The sponge is the red line and the fat is the blue line. The fat did not have a stall at all. It slowly and steadily heated on a nice gradual curve. But brother, did the sponge ever stall. It climbed at about the same rate as the fat for the first hour to about 140°F, and then it put on the breaks. In fact, it even went down in temp! When it dried out after more than 4 hours, it took off again.
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    This was not an experiment but a science lesson which states that evaporative cooling is the reason for the "stall". He theorized but did not prove anything experimentally.
  14. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The reason I posted this is in reference to the last sentence in this paragraph.

    The butt, in question, still had available moisture. Therefore it stalled for an extended period of time.

    Not saying that's what kept it from reaching the desired 200º, but it is a factor that can't be overlooked.

    There are other variables in play..............ambient temps, smoker temps, etc.

    Just trying to help [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  15. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    Here's some photos of my pork butt smoke.  This was a 3.2lb pork butt.  ENJOY!!






    Sorry I don't have final shots of the finished product..as it was 4am, and the last thing on my mind was taking photos at that point, when I expected a 3lb butt to be done by about 11pm!!

    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  16. smoking gun

    smoking gun Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Is it possible fermented beverages were involved and you slept through the alarm.Then when U woke up everything had cooled down a bit? [​IMG]

    I pull mine off at 195 wrap and cooler them. The meat pulls easily but you don't get "mushy" pork . Just my personal preference.
  17. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    LOL...well normally there is fermented beverages involved in all my smokes.......but it was only 15F out that day...so NO cold drinks that day
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  18. smoking gun

    smoking gun Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

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