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Unread 10-20-2012, 11:18 AM   #1
Subzerogriller
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Default Boston Butt on WSM Help!

So I'm cooking for about 40 people today. Doing 2 butts, along with some apps. Started the WSM around 2 am, and got the butts on around 3, shooting to pull the meat off around 3-3:30 pm, allow it to rest, then have it pulled by 5 when guests start to arrive. Both butts are about 9.5 lbs. Outside temps have been in the upper 30's to low 40's since I fired up the pit. Here's my problem: with a full load (20 lb bag of KBB) and the vents wide open, I haven't been able to get my pit temps over about 205 all morning. I've added fuel as necessary, but still can't get the temps up (most of the day they've been sitting at around 180-190; granted, this is using the hood therm because the probe on my Maverick went haywire this week). 8 hours into the cook, both butts are sitting in the 155-165 range for internal temp. The problem is, using a hood therm that I'm not 100% sure is very accurate, I can't decide whether I should be alarmed or not. Should I pull the butts off and toss them in the oven? At ~160*, I know they're done taking on smoke...or do we think we're on pace as long as I keep adding fuel? Keep in mind, I took a nap, so I could be right at the very beginning or very end of the stall, I have no idea...any advice from the Brethren would be greatly appreciated!!
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Unread 10-20-2012, 11:38 AM   #2
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If it was me I would empty the water pan and run it dry and put a wind break up. But you can finish them in the oven.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 11:46 AM   #3
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I'm with Bludawg. A wind break will help a lot. You could also try and wrap the whole thing up in a blanket or tarp or something to insulate it a bit. Just make sure you keep the vents clear for airflow.

If your butts are dark enough for you, then you definitely could finish em in the oven. Once you get to a point where you're gonna wrap em up (assuming you wrap) then you're basically oven cooking them at that point anyway.


Good luck!
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Unread 10-20-2012, 11:52 AM   #4
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That's the thing; they're a nice, pretty mahogany color, but not as dark as I'd like; no bark at all. There's not much wind here today, so I didn't think that would be a problem, but maybe I'll toss a blanket over the railing just in case. I just added more coals, and the temps have bumped up to around 220*, so maybe I can power through it. The only question is, is another 3 hours gonna be enough to get me there?

Edit: Forgot to respond to your water pan idea, Bludawg. I actually never run water in my pan; have it foiled with a clay saucer. Sorry, I should have mentioned that in the OP. And here I thought I was being so detailed....
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Unread 10-20-2012, 12:08 PM   #5
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It's been my experience that butts take 14-17 hours in a bullet at 225°. I'd guess you're going to have to finish them off in the oven if you want them done in time. You might also have to finish them off in the oven at a temp of 250°-275°. Good luck.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 12:56 PM   #6
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I'd say qndummy is onto your bigger issue. There doesn't seem to be enough time in your day to get it done with your current conditions. Either add a lot more lit coals or pull in and go the oven route, but you need much higher temps if you are going to eat by 5pm. I'd go for broke and add more lit coals than I should and would risk ruining the whole thing, but it'd be fun trying! Good luck!
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Unread 10-20-2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. I planned on cooking at 250-275 all along, just haven't been able to get my temps up. Bark is forming now, and I've gotten it up to about 260 in the pit, but I'm definitely in the middle of the stall; both butts are hanging between 160-165 right now. Gonna give it half an hour, and if they don't move then I'll heat up the oven.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:18 PM   #8
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Oven won't hurt a thing. They have absorbed most of the smoke they will take by now. Have done hams that way, smoke then finish in oven, and they were great.

You could be getting ash build up. Bang on one of the legs a little bit and get the ash to fall. Next time for a long smoke in cool or cold temps, you might try lump.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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Have you tried flipping the access door upside down and propping it open a half inch or so?
Normally that will get you are few more degrees of heat.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:24 PM   #10
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Thanks! Here's a little bit of a test of how your day's going: pulled the butts off, wrapped in foil with some apple juice, threw them into the oven @ 300*...looked at my smoker 15 minutes later, and the therm read 320. It's been about an hour, so I checked temps; one is at 178*, but the other is still stalling around 165*. I upped the oven temp a bit, but don't want to go too much higher than I am now, so here's hoping; by my count, I have about another 1.5 hours or so, 2 hours if I shorten the rest period. I've always done shorter rests anyway, and it's turned out great, but I kind of wanted to see the difference with a longer rest this time. Guess we'll see if I get that chance.

The good news, is that the pit is holding at right around 300*, and I've got more than enough fuel to do my pork shots and fatties! Threw them all on about 15 minutes ago...
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by columbia1 View Post
Have you tried flipping the access door upside down and propping it open a half inch or so?
Normally that will get you are few more degrees of heat.

Nope, haven't tried that. Thanks! I'll keep it in mind for my next cook, see how much of a difference it makes. I typically have no problems getting the WSM up to temp; this has just been really bizarre...
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:31 PM   #12
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Don't trust the WSM temp gauge, get your self a good thermometer and check its calibration and mount it your self. I'd recommend a couple of them, one lower and one higher if you are like me and want to much information. You can calibrate them by using a know temp like boiling water and see what these units read. Adjust them if you can or just note the difference.

The more meat you stick in the WSM the less accurate the factory thermometer is. You are getting the cooling effect from the meat mass.

Now that your meat is in the oven and if you experience stalling just wait through it, it will suddenly start to climb again and nicely.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:32 PM   #13
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I bought a high temp jacket for my WSM and it works nice.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:44 PM   #14
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Thanks, John! That's exactly what I'm noticing now; if I'd just hung with it, I think the cooker was fine. I just couldn't afford to take that risk; if I left it on the pit and I was wrong, I'd have 40 people mad at me for ordering takeout at my bbq. I do have a Maverick ET-732, but the pit probe died on my last week and I haven't taken the time to call Maverick and get it replaced. Thank you for the insight on the hood therm, though; I hadn't considered the meat messing it up!
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Unread 10-20-2012, 02:47 PM   #15
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I agree with not trusting the stock thermo...My 18.5" usually runs 25-50 degrees hotter at the top grate than what the thermo reads. And the one on my 22.5 got stuck, so Im always cooking at about 150F
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