Tried smoking my first 1/2 pork butt. 3 1/2 lbs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by dmccoy26, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

  2. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    dmccoy26-71/2 doesn't sound too bad for a small butt smoke-a larger butt up in the 7-8 lb range takes me about 10-12 hours to get it to 205° internal temp for pulling.

    When some of our drum users have had a chance to look over your blog post, they would be better at giving you advice and tips better than this old stick burner could.
  3. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

    Thanks Dutch.

    I attribute the longer smoke to 3 things. I maybe wrong, but I'll let the seasoned pros correct me.

    1) I check the internal temp of the meat every hour.. releasing all the smoke and hot air.
    2) Un-uniform lump charwood
    3) Smaller meats have smaller surface areas?

    I had a great time using it last night. I can't wait to fire-it-up again.
  4. tulsajeff

    tulsajeff Master of the Pit Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    Just a few observations..

    Sometimes even though a piece of meat is smaller in weight, the thickness is the same as a heavier piece and as I have mentioned before, the thickness of the meat plays a large part since the heat must reach the center in order to cook the meat to a finished temperature.

    When I purchase briskets, for instance, on the small side in order to cut down my cooking time, I am looking at the thickness as well as the weight.

    Even though this was a 1/2 butt, it looks pretty thick to me from your pictures.

    I also noticed that you took a picture every hour.. this is great for logging your project however, the UDS as well as other smokers known for long, steady cook times do much better when all things are left alone as much as possible.

    Unless you had a camera mounted under the lid, every time you removed the lid to take a shot it probably added a bit of time to your total.

    Other than that, I always tell folks to let the temperature tell you when the meat is finished rather than the time. I have had some really funky unexplainable things happen while cooking low and slow.

    Try to estimate but always be prepared to stick it out for as long as it takes and/or have an empty cooler ready to place it in to keep it hot if it gets done early.

    The real question is.. was it tasty? That is the measurement of success around here[​IMG]
  5. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

    Thanks for the input TulsaJeff. The weight was actually 3 and 1/2 pounds was was pretty thick.

    I agree with you on opening the lid every hour to check the temperature. This was my first smoke on the UDS and wanted to monitor the internal meat temperature, so I can better just time in the future. A wireless thermometer would have solved the issue of me manually checking the meat every hour.

    I smoked it for tonight's dinner (once again, didn't know how long it was actually going to take and didn't want to leave my first smoke unattended), so

    I'll give a follow up report after I make some homemade sauce.
  6. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Time sounds about right to me. It usually takes me 9 hours to do one or two 5 pound butts on my UDS. As Jeff said, I believe thickness plays a role in addition to weight. I also think it just takes a certain amount of time for the collegen to break down to gelatin with a smoker running in the 250s.

    While the UDS recovers fast after you lift the lid, (actually it usually spikes from the burst of oxygen it gets), and I see by your log that was the case as well, it's probably best to leave it closed as much as you can. Purchasing a wireless therm or even a Taylor 1470 will let you do that.

    Here's what I usually do. It's certainly not the only way but just a suggestion. When I'm doing butts on the drum I put them on and put the lid on. I don't open it for at least 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, I'll insert a probe in the meat. They're usually in the 150s at this point. I set the thermo temp alarm for 165°. When they hit 165°, I'll take them off and wrap them in foil. I reinsert the probe, set the temp alarm for 195° and put them back on the drum. When they hit 195° I take them off the drum, wrap them in another layer of foil and stick them in a cooler wrapped in towels for an hour. As I said, it usually takes around 9 hours for 5 poundish butts. It looks like your temps held pretty steady except for the occasional spike when you removed the lid and the one drop at 3 hours in. I would guess that was caused by a little buildup of ash around the charcoal. A couple of good kicks to the drum will usually remedy that.

    Hope this helps.

  7. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie


    Thanks for clarifying some of the details of my log. I couldn't quite figure out why the temperature dropped so low. At the time, ash build up didn't really occur to me.

    On the way home from work today, I picked up a Maverick RediCheck wireless thermometer at a local BBQ store.

    I've added some excel graphs to my blog this afternoon and I'll be adding some pictures later this evening once I re-heat the pork to 195 and pull it apart for sandwiches.
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now I too was gonna say that meat cooks differently depending on alot of things. Now for your little tracking charts man that's alittle to techie for me. I wouldn't know how to start to set something like that up. But I would be curious to see how one of my smokes goes on one of those contraptions. Me and my gas smoke vault.
  9. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

    I've got my first smoke ring!


    Man was that sandwich delicious!
  10. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

    I just had a spread sheet with the time, the smoker temp, etc and then pasted it into microsoft excel and made a graph.
  11. caveman

    caveman Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave. Hope you are doing well. In reference to this post, why would the Taylor 1470 make a good thermo vs. a wireless?

    I am a techie & the charts were beautiful. I appreciated them. Thank you for that. (Not saying anything bad about Mballi because I respect all of the members around here & he is at the top of my respect list.)
  12. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It may have been ash build up or also I noticed you adjusted the valves downward quite a bit at 8:10 and 8:20. A UDS doesn't react very fast so if you can, try to give the drum 20 or 30 minutes to settle in after each adjustment. Otherwise you can end up chasing temps all over the place. My UDS will wander a bit and it is way more noticeable with a digital thermo. As long as mine stays between 230° and 270° I pretty much leave it alone.

    Great smoking logs. [​IMG] Makes it real easy to try and explain questions that way.

    It depends on where you are going to be during the smoke. I have an ET-73 and also the Taylors. If I'm monitoring the smoker temp and need a low temp alarm, I'll use the Maverick. If I'm just monitoring meat temp and I'm going to be outside with the smoker, I'll use the Taylors. Sometimes if I'm going to be pretty close to the smoker all day (working outside or something of the like) I'll just use the Taylor to monitor the smoker temp as well. Just a matter of preference. [​IMG]

  13. caveman

    caveman Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I see. I do mine the same way. I hook up two wireless ET - 72's to monitor both the temp & the meat. I carry the recievers with me, inside or out. I thought the Taylor had an advantage that I needed. Thanks for the response & info Sir. [​IMG]
  14. eaglewing

    eaglewing Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Dutch is right. I always buy my Butts in the 8-9lb range, but I also always cut them in half. So I am always doing Butts in the 4lb range and I ALWAYS allow at least 7 hours. I have had a 4lb butt go 10 hours on me before.

    The BEAUTY of allowing a lot of time for a BUTT is that if it finishes earlier than you wanted you can always just keep it in a cooler longer!!!
    Wrapped in foil and a towel in a cooler and some have talked about you keeping it in there for hours with NO regrets.
    Infact, it could be argued the longer the better.
    So the moral of a BUTT cooking time IMO is to over allow time and they will always keep in a cooler till the desired target time of eating!!!

    I have NEVER had a butt go bad on me yet, but I have had plenty that took a LOT longer than I thought they should.
  15. jonboat

    jonboat Smoke Blower

    OK, I did my second ever smoke on Saturday (sorry no q-view on this one) - it was a 3.5 lb bonless Pork butt, and I had figured 4 1/2 - 5 hours going in.

    I use an ecb, and had added the air holes to the charcoal bowl mod. I used the minion method - and left the lid on for the first 4 1/2 hours - adding pre-lit charcoal whenever the temp started to drop.

    Actual time to get to 165 for slicing... 7 hours. it seemed to hang right around 145 forever, before quickly going up right at the end.

    Things I learned... ash build-up is a pain. turned out I had a ton of half-burned charcoal under a thick layer of ash - I should have been "stirring up the coals" to keep the temp up instead of adding more all the time. I actually ended up smothering the coals on the bottom with ash by adding way too much.

    This brought home another lesson from the ecb mods page - put the legs on the outside and rest the coal-bowl on bricks. This mod makes it easy to stir up the coals for more heat, while leaving the lid on the smoker to keep in the heat. This mod was completed later that same night.

    I definitely think that thickness played a part too, this roast was almost round, and it took quite a while for the middle to heat up.

    Anyhow, even though dinner was late, it was delicious, and I learned some valuable stuff from the experience.
  16. mama's smoke

    mama's smoke Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Time sounds about right to me, as well. My biggest mistake when I first began smoking was checking too often, thus extending the time. You will find your thermometer invaluable. Is it the ET-73? That's a great little gadget.
  17. dmccoy26

    dmccoy26 Newbie

    Yes the ET-73. Its the highest model I can current afford. Maybe I'll ask for the dual probe for christmas :)

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