Pork shoulder HOT

Discussion in 'Pork' started by hillbillyrkstr, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Ok I didn't document this smoke because it wasn't really planned. My wonderful grandma passed away this week and I didn't plan in smoking anything. But it was a beautiful day so I had my wife pick up a pork butt early Saturday morning.

    It was rubbed down at 8am and I put it on the SFB chargriller around 11am. It was just over 9 pounds. I expected to be smoking this till midnight but I couldn't keep the temp down on the smoker. I just put expanded metal in the SFB and threw away the cheap charcoal grate and this let a lot more air under the fire and because of this I had a higher temp.

    Also I used an igrill outer probe at grate level and it was reading WAY HIGHER than the thermostat on the barrel. Barrel kept reading just over 225 but the igrill was ready 285-325 the whole damn time. I was sure this butt was gonna be awful but I just didn't care. I was slamming down PBRs and had a lot bigger things on my mind.

    I never boil tested my outer probe for the igrill so I'm not 100% sure how accurate it is. The two inner probes were boil tested and were within 2 degrees.

    The 9 1/2 pound pork butt was done at 6pm. I pulled it off the smoker at 167 degrees around 4pm. Then wrapped it in foil with a little vernors and stuck it in the oven at 220. Two hours later it was done. I was sure it would suck because it cooked to fast but it was awesome! Pulled apart easy, and nothing stuck to the bone at all. Juicy as could be...

    Now with the whole back story laid out I guess here's my question: how did this turn out as good as my slowed smoked pork butts??? Usually 1 1/2 per pound and even longer has been true to me on these. I don't get it, but I'm wondering if I would start smoking them at 300+ all the time.

    Any answers to this or opinions would be appreciated.

    only picture I took yesterday. The Wonder Dog and the pork about an hour in.

    Should have taken a pic of the empty PBR cans. The whole reason I put it in the oven is because I was smoked and needed to nap. Wife finished it in the oven because of this.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hillbillyrkstr, it has to do with heat transfer and time.  A cold butt, brisket, whatever, will absorb heat from the surrounding environment.  That's called cooking.  At 225F it will absorb heat slower than it will at 350F for any unit of time, say an hour.  A 9 lb butt has to absorb a fixed amount of heat energy to reach an internal temperature of say 205F for pulling.  It takes longer for that butt to absorb the fixed amount of heat energy if the available environment is 225F compared to the same environment of 350F.

    As the meat absorbs heat the meat is going to go through all the same chemical and physical changes at specific internal temperatures in the meat.  It takes longer for the meat to reach those specific internal temperatures at the lower chamber temp.  This is the point upon which low n slow advocates argue with hot n fast advocates.  All the verbal arguments in the world won't change how a meat responds chemically and physically in any given environment at specific internal temperatures.

    The reason your pork butt tasted as good as your normal low n slow is that it went through all the same changes it normally does, just faster with the higher temperatures.  That's why oven cooks can make smokeless pulled pork out of a 9 lb butt in 3-4 hours in a 350F degree oven.  The surface or bark on the meat will be decidedly different but the rest should taste exactly the same without the smoke flavor.  Smoke is like a rub ingredient, an amazing flavor enhancer, but I've made plenty of delicious pulled pork over the years in the oven absent the smoke.

    Now, the one point that is truly valid is the bark.  The surface of the meat, lets call it the boundary layer, is the point where all the heat energy enters the meat and the boundary layer interacts with the environment.  As smokers we put all kinds of extra stuff on the surface of the meat to enhance the flavor.  All those "extras" have their own chemical and physical processes that respond with temperature too.  The reason the surface turns dark, black, etc, including the smoke ring, is due to the meat, rubs, sticking agents interacting with the wood chemicals in the smoky, heated air.  Chemical reactions occur at the surface, including the Maillard Reaction.  Those reactions don't reach deeper into the meat where the heat transfer is slower and more constant.  They will if you let the internal temperature of the meat reach say 350F, but we don't do that with pork butts. 

    Constant smoker temps equal predictable times when something will be finished.  1.5 hours per pound at 225F for example.  At 300F it is probably more like 30 minutes per pound and will be just as good with a difference in the bark. 

    I've done one low n slow butt on my smoker.  Never again, but that's a personal choice.  I prefer borderline hot n fast.      
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To heck with the reasons, I say it turned out well was because your Grandma was there looking out for you. Sometimes its just the best answer.
    worktogthr likes this.
  4. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Thanks Foamheart. I guess sometimes it's best not to question.

    No boundaries I'm just a dumb hillbilly, lol! I'm not sure I understood all that. I know I had a butt that pulled apart as easy as a low and slow butt, and it had awesome bark, and a hell of a smoke ring! I wish I had taken a few pics for y'all. I just a least heard if you cook it over 250 your in trouble as far as a tough, dry piece of meat. I was worried the tissues wouldn't breakdown without using the slow and low method. I can tell you after this experience they broke down!

    I think I'm gonna have to try two butts next time. One in the mes at 225-250, and one on the SFB at 300, and then I'll have friends and family compare. Sounds like a good day.

    All in all I'm still surprised it turned out as well as it did. Maybe just because I heard to hot equals bad. I don't know what temps and times the people who smoke "hot/fast" use but I used just over 300 average for 5 hours and it was at 165-167 internal temp. Then two more hours wrapped with liquid at 220 and it was at 200-202. It was awesome! I let it sit for an hour before it was pulled. The internal temp at that point had dropped to 187.
  5. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Maybe a lesson learned? If I can smoke it hotter and faster and it's still awesome why would I not use that in a pinch?

    Although I wonder how it would have turned out had I not used the oven and just wrapped it and threw it on the smoker that was around 300 until it hit 200-205?
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Once you wrap, it doesn't matter whether you finish on the smoker or in the oven.  The smoke isn't going to penetrate the foil.  Heat is heat at that point.
  7. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I should have clarified better. I know smoke won't penetrate the foil. I'm just curious if it would have made a difference if I finished it at 300+? I mean I went from 300 for hours to the oven at 220. Think it would have come out different if I didn't lower the temp at the end?
  8. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ah, I see what you mean. It took two hours to finish in the 220F oven. It would have finished in an hour or less in the 300F smoker.
  9. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    hillbillyrkstr, in the distraction about temps and physics I forgot the most important part of your post.  Sorry to hear about the loss of your wonderful gramma.  The unconditional love grammas share is as close to Divine as you can get.  My condolences.
  10. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I appreciate it buddy. Thank you. To just get away from it all I decided to smoke some meat. Nothing better than drinking beers and tending to your pit to relax.
  11. Some great information here. I just hope that Noboundaries post means that we need a degree in chemical engineering to be really successful at this smoking game. Having said that, I can't believe how well some of my efforts have turned out using just blind luck and common sense.
  12. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    15% preparation, 5% luck, and 80% patience.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  13. Foamheart, forgot the patience!
  14. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nah, just structural engineering. Chemistry was part of the curriculum.

    The low and slow versus hot and fast reminds me of when I was first learning to cook at university. My mother, RIP, passed her cooking techniques to me. I first learned how far off the mark she was when I went to cook my first turkey. She would put a bird in the oven for 12 hours at 220F. She obviously didn't food poison us but her turkey was like eating chalk; dry and tasteless. I cooked it her way the first time, got the same result, then read the instructions. 350F for about 3-4 hours. My second bird came out completely different; moist and edible.

    The lesson learned I've applied to smoking meat. Follow the common practices the first time, get a result, then apply what I've learned about cooking for four decades to get the result I want.

    For butts and briskets I like starting low and slow to get the smoke, wrap at the first stall and finish hot and fast as high as 325F. If I wanted a firm bark I'd unwrap it at 190-195 IT and let it finish to an IT of 205.

    I'm not trying to convince anyone my way is right. I just answered the question why hot and fast, whether intentional or not, can give as satisfying a result as low and slow. There are as many ways to smoke a butt as there are temperatures you can achieve in your smoker.
  15. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I'm sold on the hot and fast theory after these first results. Can't say I'll use it always and swear by it, but I'll try it again for sure to see if I get good results again! If the results are the same after a 2nd butt I'm all in.

    As far as engineering and chemistry go I don't have a pencil or paper to bring to class but I always have my leatherman on my belt, and I usually have a beer with me. Think with those tools I could fake my way to a C-? Lol!

    Thanks again for the info no boundaries.
  16. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I always give props to the user CliffCarter who first gave me advice about hot and fast smokes for pork butts. I had some looooong smokes (an 8 pounder that took 22 hours at 225) and when I posted about it he recommended smoking at 300 give or take ten degrees up or down. I've been doing it ever since and getting great results. The bark does get crispy but I like that and my friends and family like it too. When you just don't have all day and night it puts you close to an hour a pound without losing any quality. No stall either. Juicy, tender, smokey. Everything you want. Now this doesn't mean that you shouldn't go low and slow if you have the time. It's just more predictable. I am also an advocate of cutting a large butt in half to cut back on the time and to get more of that tasty bark.
  17. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    The hot and fast method worked well for me. 5 hours at 300/325ish and then 2 hours at 220 and a 9 pounder was done! Can't beat that!
  18. I know I'm a noob, but I'm also a "research hound". I really get into the how's and why's before jumping into the pool (it has actually taken me 6 months to decide on which car to buy). Then I simplify the process (in my brain).

    The conclusion I've come up with is I will smoke the butt low 'n slow until it reaches an IT of 160F. During this time the meat is absorbing smoke and creating the bark (carmelization of sugars) and smoke ring (malliard reaction). For me, the time limit for the actual burn of the wood should be no longer than 2 hours. This will keep it from looking burnt and/or getting bitter. After the meat is foiled or panned the temp can be raised into the 300F range because it is "protected" from drying out from the heat. This protection allows the juices to do its thing as well as breaking down the collegan until the IT hits 195-205F. Wrapping the butt in a towel and letting it sit for 1 hour allows the meat to "average out" its overall temperature as well as redistribute the juices equally.

    That's my take on it anyway. ; ' )

    I also inject (50/50 mix of AJ and ACV with some rub added) and rubbed on the outside the night before.

    Man, I LOVE this stuff!

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