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Old 07-19-2018, 08:53 AM   #1
barry w
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I am cooking 16 pork butts on Snday. I will be cooking on my 24 x 65 Shirley. Will this many butts extend my cooking time.This will be my largest cook so far. It is a charity event and I need to finish on time. Your thoughts will be much appreciated.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:53 AM   #2
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A couple of weeks ago I helped with a cook of 8 butts and 4 legs of lamb, about 105 pounds total. In order to offset the recovery time (the time needed for the pit to get back up to temp after putting a lot of cold meat on) we took the 4 largest butts and put them on when the pit was about 270°, then waited 30 or 40 minutes and put the other 4 butts on. The lamb went on about 4 hours later and only dropped the pit temp about 30°, but with the pit all warmed up and with hot meat the recovery time was only about 20 minutes.
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:32 AM   #3
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as thirdeye mentioned the biggest slow down will be the pit recovery time after you initially putt all that cold meat on. Personally, I would get my pit up to 300 before putting that much meat on planning on it coming down to about where I want to cook. after it settle in the only extra time it would take would be how long it takes you to wrap (if doing so) and to process/ shred the meat. work your timeline backwards from when it needs to be ready to serve and add an hour or 2 for it being a big cook and new territory for you. The joy of a full smoker is a wonderful thing. have fun!
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:41 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advise, this place is so nice to be a part of. Kinda what I was thinking but the importance and the unexplored territory I didn't want to wing this one. Thank you very much for your help. I will let you all know how it goes. Barry
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:55 AM   #5
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I also agree get the pit to 300*+ before adding meat. Shouldn't take but 6 spllts at the most to get there. Summer months.
We used to dry rub all the butts first. Not anymore for large cooks.

A time saver, and dry rub saver when doing a cook like this. Smoke the butts naked. Add your dry rub while pulling/mixing. No one will notice. Actually you will get more flavor from the rub being added vs rubbed on top.
I'd plan on 12 to 14 hrs from when you can get the butts on. You will probably have to rotate the butts around to get even cooking during that time.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:51 PM   #6
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Alternatively, you can simply salt and peper the cold butts then put them on racks suspended over baking pans in a fly free, room temp environment with sufficient air flow ( ceiling fan/box fan will do) and allow then to warm for 4-6 hours before placing into cooker. The kosher salt will keep surface bacteria at bay and the warmer mass will minimize the chances of getting behind wild swings in the smoker.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:57 PM   #7
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I have not noticed any measurable increase in cook time by filling the cabinet, aside from the initial small drop from putting a bunch of cold objects into the cook chamber. If it were 300* before adding the meat, I might expect it to drop 25* and recover within a split.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:43 PM   #8
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As everyone else has already stated, you'll definitely get a pretty big drop in temperature when you add all that cold meat. The most I've ever cooked on my 24x65 Shirley was 12 large Boston butts for one cook and 6 large briskets and 6 butts for another. Except for the recovery time after adding all that cold meat to the smoker, I didn't really notice that much of an increase in overall cooking time. I like to cook between 275-300 because that's where it likes to run. For the cook of 6 briskets and 6 butts I had to have everything ready in time for lunch (12pm serving time). I put everything on at 1am and the last brisket was done by 10:30am. Some of the butts were ready as early as 8:30am. It doesn't hurt at all to be done early, everything benefits from a good rest in the ice chest or cambro and will stay hot for hours.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:34 PM   #9
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Ok, good info for my cook. My Shirley likes to run 275 -300 also. Am I wrong to dry rub the butts the afternoon before and refridge till they go on the cooker next morning. Sure will help with spreading the work load. I've never put my rub on the processed meat before, I will experiment sometime when it is just me and the family. Thanks a bunch, Barry
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Old 07-20-2018, 06:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmm View Post
Alternatively, you can simply salt and peper the cold butts then put them on racks suspended over baking pans in a fly free, room temp environment with sufficient air flow ( ceiling fan/box fan will do) and allow then to warm for 4-6 hours before placing into cooker. The kosher salt will keep surface bacteria at bay and the warmer mass will minimize the chances of getting behind wild swings in the smoker.
I wish I could look my health inspector straight in the face and tell him this...all the while trying not to laugh. Please, do not do this. The OP is cooking for a charity event...I would guess 175-200+ portions. Food safety is paramount.

To the OP...I would cook exactly like you're used to. The only thing I would change is your timing. Start about 6 hours ahead of what you're used to. As has already been stated, the thermal shock of those 16 butts will take a while to recover. Starting early also allows you time to get everything done with a sufficient rest in coolers, Cambros, or a holding cabinet. Best of luck to you.
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Old 07-20-2018, 10:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebijack View Post
...
We used to dry rub all the butts first. Not anymore for large cooks. A time saver, and dry rub saver when doing a cook like this. Smoke the butts naked. Add your dry rub while pulling/mixing. No one will notice. Actually you will get more flavor from the rub being added vs rubbed on top.

I'd plan on 12 to 14 hrs from when you can get the butts on. You will probably have to rotate the butts around to get even cooking during that time.
This is a good point, and although we don't cook naked, the amount of rub is way less than if I was cooking 1 or 2 at home. I always use a finishing rub on pulled pork or any meat that may have some holding time.... like at a pot luck kind of party. I take the rub and put through my spice grinder and get it super fine. This way when it hits the meat it dissolves on contact. I also have a spray bottle of apple juice or Coca-Cola to add in addition to any foil juices I may incorporate.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:37 PM   #12
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Well, tomorrow I pick up the pre ordered butts around lunch time from Sam's club. I will bring them home in coolers and rub them down with a dry rub. I have enough refridgeration for them and will keep them there until I put them on the Shirley. My plan is to fire up Shirley at about 2:00 am, should be ready for pork by 3:00. Need to have everything ready by 3:30 - 4:00PM. I know it might be a little conservative start but I do not want to have play catch up or get behind, I can keep the Q warm as long as I need to. Hoping to feed some not so fortunate people a good hot meal. Will try and document with a few pictures and share here with the breathern. Thanks for your help, Barry
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:45 PM   #13
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How long does a Boston butt of that size typically take you to cook if it's just one or two? For me, cooking 8 or 9 pounders at 275, I'd probably need every bit of that 12 hours to ensure all 16 are done...some will finish early, others of the same size may finish much later for various reasons.

For the 3 large cooks I've done, I've pre cooked, vacuum bagged, chilled (and freeze if needed), and reheated so I dont have to rush things along. I realize that's not feasible for everyone or all situations but theres nothing I cant stand more than be to be staring down a timeline that I cant meet without sacrificing quality.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:52 PM   #14
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I'm thinking that allowing for a 12 hour cook time is might be cutting it too close. You are going to be in the pit more often rotating and maybe misting the meat so that will add to the cook time. Plus, butts get a wonderful creamy/sticky texture when allowed to rest 3 or 4 hours in the cooler.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:25 AM   #15
barry w
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Sounds like I need to start earlier. 8 1/2 hours is my usual cook time for 3 to 5 butts. It's a lot of meat and it is just me to chop and shred. So what time are you thinking I should fire Shirley, takes me 45 min max to get her up to 300 plus.
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