Pork Butt Questions

Discussion in 'Pork' started by tumbleweed1, May 12, 2015.

  1. tumbleweed1

    tumbleweed1 Smoking Fanatic

    I'm planning on smoking my first pork butt in my MES30 this week. Until now, I've only done ribs in it a couple of times. Some things I'm pretty sure about & plan on doing, some I have questions on. I've scoured the boards here & the only thing I can be sure of is sometimes there are as many answers as pitmasters lol. I'm hoping to get opinions on my plans. The original plan was for Thursday, the day after tomorrow, but Sunday will work if need be. I say that because I only took the 6 lb butt out of the freezer yesterday. Today the outside is softened up & I am hopeful for Thursday. BTW I got it on sale in March for $ 0.99/lb. Here she is-

    My plan is that I'll hopefully be able to salt it down tomorrow night for overnight. After experimenting with rubs for my ribs I believe I'm just going with salt & pepper the next morning, shortly before going in the smoker. I was wondering about maybe Seasoned Salt? I plan on going with nothing in the foil-wrapped water pan also. After doing some reading I decided that I would cook a little hotter (about 275-280) than the old 225 to maybe shorten the stall. I will be using a 50/50 mixture of apple & cherry woods. I also plan on double-wrapping it tight with 4 oz apple juice & a melted stick of butter when the IT hits 160-170. I was considering finishing it up at about 300 degrees for that last stretch (IT 200-205), all in hopes of eating this thing when the wife gets home (5:30 pm), & would love to have had it resting for 60-90 minutes at that point. That time deadline is not a deal-breaker, but would ideal.

    I'm at odds over what time to start this smoke. If I plan on 2 hours/pound I would start at 4 am, so that I could take it out at 4 pm & let the resting commence. I'm hoping with the higher temps to see more like 1.5 hours/pound & then I wouldn't need to start until 7 am. Keep in mind, I do not plan on opening the door every hour to baste. spritz, look or even to add chips (I have the side-loader). 

    So what do ya'll think? Any advice to help me out here?

    I also plan on making a nice, Lexington Dip (my favorite) & my wife's favorite, chili powder/ketchup/vinegar-based BBQ sauce to have on the side while this butt cooks.

    Thanks for any advice I can get.
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  2. That should work just fine. If it is done early it will hold for hours wrapped and in a cooler. If it is running long you will have a shorter rest. I hope you have checked the actual temp of your MES so you know you are really cooking that hot as some are way off. Remember to post a Qview.

    Happy smoken.

    tumbleweed1 likes this.
  3. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Does your MES go to 300? Mine only goes to 275. Also, when I set my MES at 275 it starts having a hard time controlling the temps and they swing up and down wildly (which is why I hot smoke on my UDS now).

    If you are planning on foiling anyways you can foil at 150 and then the foil will push it through the stall. When I foil before the stall I am typically right at 1.5 hours per pound at 225 (but typical does not mean always). The only downside to foiling at 150 is the reduced time in the smoke and the non-existent bark.
    tumbleweed1 likes this.
  4. tumbleweed1

    tumbleweed1 Smoking Fanatic

    Actually I haven't checked the accuracy of the controller. I've done ribs set at 225-235 & they took about 5 hours, so I assumed all was well. I believe I will try & do that tonight. Thank you for the thought, Mule.
    If I remember correctly from when I seasoned it, it may only go to 275. I'll hopefully have time to find out tonight. What I actually meant was that if it was stalling for quite a while, I may finish it in the oven. I'm hoping my smoker WILL hold at least to 275 (& I've read where some set to 275 were actually running at 300 & over) through the first part (up to IT of 160 or so). Maybe that way I wouldn't have to worry about much of a stall. If it proves it can't hold at the higher end of it's spectrum, then finishing in the oven may be an option- depends on my time constraints & how much longer I would want to wait. Hopefully the next time I do pork butt after this one, I will have a day & a half set aside so I can try it at 240-25 degrees & no foil to experience more bark & to see how much longer it would stall & take to finish. This one I want to try on higher heat if I can. Thank you.

    I've also started to consider going back to hickory rather than the cherry/apple combo. I liked the cherry/apple on the last couple of racks of ribs I did, but also remember the hickory I did on this smoker's maiden (ribs) voyage tasting just like dad's when I was a kid. I'm thinking of going with the hickory this time & then trying either the cherry/apple combination or even some of the pecan I bought several weeks back & haven't even got into.
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  5. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    If you can hold 275 than by all means go for it. At that temp it should take between 1 and 1.5 hours per pound and the stall will be negligible. That way you won't have to foil if you don't want to. I am a recent convert to the "hot and fast" method (275-300 degrees) and now I will not be going back to low and slow for pulled pork. It is great to be able to crank up the smoker at 7am on a Saturday and be eating delicious pulled pork at 6pm. 

    If your smoker doesn't hold 275 well than your game plan of finishing in the oven should work fine. I had my MES set to 270 this weekend and when I looked at it after 30 minutes or so it was at 305. Then about 30 minutes later it was at 285 and still heating so I had to crank the setting down to 250 to get it back under control. If you have a second thermo to monitor air temp and can manually adjust the setting so the air temp is what you want (not what the MES says) then you will be good to go. 
    tumbleweed1 likes this.
  6. scorchedporch

    scorchedporch Fire Starter

    Wait until you get some good bark and the top begins to split.  You can wrap it in foil there and and the bark will be set.  It won't take much smoke beyond IT of 145 anyhow.  There are lots of you tube videos you can get lost in.  Most of all, don't overthink it and have fun.  Once you put the meat on, you are on BBQ time and you can't rush good 'Q.  Best of luck and post some pics.
    tumbleweed1 likes this.
  7. tumbleweed1

    tumbleweed1 Smoking Fanatic

    I didn't get a chance to fire it up & see last night, but I did get a thermometer. The wife brought home a Maverick HD3 or 8 or something like that from her mother's. That will be for the meat. I believe I'll pick up another thermometer also to mount where I plan to set the butt (rack #2) to monitor the temp in that spot while preheating the smoker. I want to see how much it differs from what the Masterbilt controller says it is. I also thought about using that same second thermometer to monitor OTHER positions in the smoker while the butt is going, thus telling me if other spots are more or less accurate versus the MB's control panel readout. If the smoker only says it goes to 275, then that's where I'll set it for this butt, but I also want to see how accurate it is for 250, too. I have been reading more & more about the "hot & fast" method of pork butt & am eager to try it, I just hope my equipment is accommodating lol.
    It would be nice if I can get this hot enough so the stall was minimal (or non-existent), but if it goes on, wrapping will be done & hopefully I'll have a bark started up good, as I would hope to not have to wrap until IT reaches 160-170.

    BTW- it looks like it going to be Sunday rather than tomorrow, due to the fact my wife is off BOTH her jobs Sunday & a tomorrow smoke would only give me a 90 minute window for her to be home, eat & get ready for the night job. I'm not sure I want that kind of pressure on my first butt! I believe the almost completely-thawed butt will be ok in the refrigerator until Sunday? Besides, that will give me time to think about sides & get both my sauces done.
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I would check for hot spots without anything in it. You don't want to be constantly opening the door to move a thermo while cooking. This will drastically increase the cook time.
  9. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I , too would check the Temp. and use a dual Probe to confirm temps.

    There is nothing wrong with finishing in the Oven , however I enjoy letting it lie in the Smoke to the end the flavor is better (IMHO).

    Have fun and . . .
    tumbleweed1 likes this.
  10. tumbleweed1

    tumbleweed1 Smoking Fanatic

    Definitely. I will do this during the preheating stage. I'll set it up on the rack (#2) where the meat is going & dial 250 on the MB control pad & check it on mine & then do the same when I want to go to 275. Once I know how accurate the temp is on rack #2, I'll move it up or down a rack, wait for the temps to say they are there on the MB & take another reading. I may move it once more before putting the meat in.
    OSB- I don't object to finishing in the oven, I'm just hoping to not have to.

    BTW- When the wife came home with the thermometer last night she also came home with this pork rub from McCormick. Now I've never bought a rub IN MY LIFE, but she has heard me complain the last year or two that although I've made at least a dozen or so over the years, I'm never really all that happy with ANY of them. She said this one was usually more expensive, but was on sale, so she thought what the hell? This is it-

     Any one ever used it? The online reviews were all pretty favorable, but I'm always skeptical, I don't want to screw this up.

    Also- I plan on using a disposable pan to catch the drippings & was wanting to use them to in my leftovers. Is it as simple as just refrigerating them overnight & removing the fat from the top & then just adding what's left to my leftovers before reheating? What about the fat? Couldn't I save it, too? Maybe use it like bacon grease for cooking. I assume I would need to refrigerate it?

    I was also thinking of just adding some beans to the drippings & running the smoker for another hour or so, until the beans were hot?

    Sometimes I feel like I don't have a clue!
    Last edited: May 13, 2015

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