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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 03-02-2011, 02:40 PM   #1
Igotgas
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Default Holding Pork Butts For a Memorial

I will try to make this as short as I can. I recently lost a friend of mine and his family asked me to smoke some butts for PP sandwiches for his memorial. I will be smoking 6 butts for a total of 55 lbs precook weight. I am concerened about holding them at a safe temp. My plan is to start smoking the day before and have them finished in the A.M. the day of. As expirence has taught me, they could take 12 to 16 hours to finish. If I start them too early and they are done early A.M. how do I make sure they are safe until it is time to serve? Can I hold them in my oven at home at a set temp for an extended peiod of time? I usually rest my butts in a cooler for about an hour before pulling, but that will be the longest I have ever had to hold anything. I know common sense goes a long way but I hope that there is a Brethren/ Sisteren that has had to deal with a similar situation and will have the answer.
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Unread 03-02-2011, 03:11 PM   #2
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Chad,
What time are you planning to serve?

We did a benefit last year and cooked 20+ butts. They came off the smoker early in the morning (6-7 AM, if I remember correctly)...then packed tight into a huge cooler or two. We took them out of the cooler and pulled one at a time. At the end of the day - 2 or 3 PM, they were still too hot to pull without meat gloves. The combo of the foil, the cooler, the mass of meat - in addition to the 200 or so internal temp keeps them hot. Just make sure your coolers are full- if not with meat, with towels or crumpled newspaper....
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Unread 03-02-2011, 03:19 PM   #3
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Unread 03-02-2011, 03:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambersuac View Post
Chad,
What time are you planning to serve?

We did a benefit last year and cooked 20+ butts. They came off the smoker early in the morning (6-7 AM, if I remember correctly)...then packed tight into a huge cooler or two. We took them out of the cooler and pulled one at a time. At the end of the day - 2 or 3 PM, they were still too hot to pull without meat gloves. The combo of the foil, the cooler, the mass of meat - in addition to the 200 or so internal temp keeps them hot. Just make sure your coolers are full- if not with meat, with towels or crumpled newspaper....
I am planning on serving at about 12. Did you pull only as you needed them, or did you just pull one at a time so they didn't all cool?
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Unread 03-02-2011, 03:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotgas View Post
I am planning on serving at about 12. Did you pull only as you needed them, or did you just pull one at a time so they didn't all cool?
We were doing a pick-up dinner, so we didn't know when people would show up. We pulled one butt at a time and served it out of a roaster that was set at 2oo or so for holding.

You can pull several butts at once and keep in a smaller cooler - or a roaster on the service line.

Not sure how you're gonna serve...but keeping the meat in bulk and away from air flow will keep it hot. Remember, you gotta hold them above 140*, so keeping a mass of meat will help...plus cooking them to 200* plus :)
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Unread 03-02-2011, 04:01 PM   #6
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You want to get a cooler that is just a little on the large side for all 6 butts and their wrapping. Dead air is not good at first. The thermal mass will work in your favor here. I would pull only a couple at first and keep pulling as the pork gets eaten. The issue with any pulled meat is that it cools and dries out fast. If you can spare the labor, pull as you go.
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Unread 03-04-2011, 10:33 AM   #7
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Thank you very much everyone! All this advice sure eased the jitters. Today is the day that I am going to start the smoke. I think I will start about 2 or 3. That way I know I will be ready by 12 tomorrow.
Thanks again, you all know how to make a newbie feel comfortable about asking questions that are hard for us , but second nature to you!
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Unread 03-04-2011, 10:45 AM   #8
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I know you'll do great. Are you saying that you are gonna start at 2-3 this afternoon? What temp are you shooting for (smoker temp)? Don't forget that if they are getting ready earlier than you thought, wrap them in foil with a little apple juice and back on the smoker to finish.

Hope you can take some pictures.
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Unread 03-04-2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambersuac View Post
I know you'll do great. Are you saying that you are gonna start at 2-3 this afternoon? What temp are you shooting for (smoker temp)? Don't forget that if they are getting ready earlier than you thought, wrap them in foil with a little apple juice and back on the smoker to finish.

Hope you can take some pictures.
Yes I started at 3 this afternoon. I generally keep the smoker about 250 or so. The last butts I did the smoker crept to 280 while I slept, but they turned out good. Right now I am sitting at 143 internal temp and 230 smoker temp. I will definitely take pics and post them. Thanks for the tip about the apple juice I did not know that one. How much time will apple juice trick buy me?
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Unread 03-05-2011, 07:12 AM   #10
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I don't know how much time that it'll buy ya - hopefully you are not having to find out. Also, you can always lower the smoker temp. Of course, putting the butts in a cooler packed tightly will hold them at temp for a long time...I'm guessing you're done cooking by now...
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambersuac View Post
I don't know how much time that it'll buy ya - hopefully you are not having to find out. Also, you can always lower the smoker temp. Of course, putting the butts in a cooler packed tightly will hold them at temp for a long time...I'm guessing you're done cooking by now...

Nope I am still cooking! So I guess there is no reason for the apple juice trick. Meat temps are between 177 and 187. I only have two hours before i have to leave...... I hope they are ready.......
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Unread 03-05-2011, 12:15 PM   #12
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Looks like ya got about an hour left, but if you see this...go ahead and foil. If the meat doesn't probe like "butta" foil. If it does, foil. Yeah, strange advice, I know. Remember, you will get some residual cooking time with them foiled and packed together...
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Unread 03-07-2011, 07:14 AM   #13
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well...how'd it all turn out??
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Unread 03-07-2011, 12:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambersuac View Post
well...how'd it all turn out??
It turned out great! Thanks to all who helped me out. Chambersauc I really appreciate the tips and help. I am glad I started early, Because even after starting early I was 1/2 hour behind schedule. Everything turned out great and the last butt was pulled about 5 hours after I put it in the cooler and it was still 176 degrees. I was so busy that i didn't get a chance to take much pron. But here is what I do have.

Here it is rubbed and waiting for the fridge




Here is the last butt just before pulling.




Thanks again to all this place made me out to be a hero
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Unread 03-07-2011, 12:35 PM   #15
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Yeah, that looks great. Glad it turned out that way. Also, glad I could offer my two cents. Heck, I've gotten more help from this place than I could ever pay back. The BBQ Brethren rocks!
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