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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:38 PM   #1
Biggen
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Default Trying a butt this weeked & need advice

Wanting to try out cooking a butt this weekend for the in-laws that are coming over for dinner Saturday night. I'm relatively new to smoking and just got my WSM last weekend. I broke it in with 3 fatties just to make sure I knew my way around it. That cook was successful and now I want to move up in the smoking world with a butt.

Anyway, here is what I am planning. Please let me know if there is anything you would change/add/subtract.

1. Going to go with a 6ish lb bone in butt for 5 people. Planning on doing pulled sandwiches. Easy and fun!
2. Planning on trimming the fat cap BEFORE I put it on the smoker. Read pros and cons about doing this but I think I'd rather have more bark and rub flavor all over the butt.
3. Going to just rub it down with a homemade BBQ rub I have been using on ribs. Not planning on injecting.
4. Will be cooking this butt at around 260-275 over apple wood with one chunk of hickory thrown in. I also want to just foil the water pan and not use water which is what I did when I smoked the fatties last weekend.
5. Not planning on foiling the butt at all during the cook. Will take it up to 195 and see if the bone wiggles free at this point. If so, I'll remove from smoker, foil/wrap in towels, and place in cooler for a minimum of 2 hours.
6. After rest pull and enjoy!

I'm a little unsure about how long the cook time will be. I've read that around 260-275 it will be close to an hour per pound but I am going to count on 1.5 hours/lb just to be on the safe side. So if I put a 6lb butt on the WSM at 6am I'll assume it will be done no later than 3pm. Even if it gets done sooner (which I think it probably will at my cooking temps) I can let it rest in the cooler until dinner time.

Any advice/critiques/problems? Or have I overthunk a smoked butt?
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:42 PM   #2
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That sounds like a good plan, especially the 1.5 hours per pound at 275F. Butts are the least dependable meat to get cooked to schedule and they hold heat so well once removed from the pit. I would say that a 6am start time is good. You can always raise the heat a little if there is a real problem.

And remember that preheating a cooler and coolering for a couple of hours is your friend on this, the long rest will help. But, you want to let the butt sit out for 15 minutes or so before wrapping so it cools a bit.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:47 PM   #3
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But, you want to let the butt sit out for 15 minutes or so before wrapping so it cools a bit.
Ahh, good idea. Yeah, I guess it would continue cooking if I wrapped it immediately and threw it in a pre-heated cooler. I'll add that to my list then. Gotta remember to pre-heat the cooler too.

Argh!! So much to do. Although after I have a few beers in the afternoon during the process it will seem easier. ;)
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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I'd say you have it pretty well planned out. I would be cautious though about the stall. When that butt hits 165ish its gonna sit there until it renders out. That could take a half an hour or 3 or 4 hours. Its tough to say. If you really want it to be done by 3pm and in time to rest for an hour or so, keep foil on stand by. If it hasn't hit 175-180 by 2pm, I (personally) would wrap it. Wrapping it will power it through the stall and at 275 cook temp you'll hit 195-200 in no time. IMHO its better to have it finish early from wrapping it and have it rest for a longer period than to have the in-laws sitting at the table waiting for it to finish.

Best of luck!
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:51 PM   #5
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Looks like a good plan. I use water in my pan, but I don't think it will make much, if any, difference. I agree totally with trimming the fat cap to get more smoke to meat contact.

I like apple wood with pork, too. And, no need to foil a butt, IMO.

Starting early is a good idea, and if you are done early, foil it, wrap it in towels, and stuff it in a cooler. It will stay HOT for hours.

Pork butt is very forgiving, so don't stress out. The bone pull test is a good one. It should slide right out. Before pulling on the bone, stick a probe thermometer in it -- not for the temperature, but for the feel. It should go in "like butta."

Don't worry about not pre-heating the cooler, or other minor things. If you have time, do it, if not, don't sweat it.

The stall happens. Don't freak out. It will pass. I think your timeline is reasonable.

Seriously, a pork butt is a good first cook for the in-laws. And, your plan looks pretty solid, to me. So, relax and enjoy the cook.

CD
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingbassman5 View Post
I'd say you have it pretty well planned out. I would be cautious though about the stall. When that butt hits 165ish its gonna sit there until it renders out. That could take a half an hour or 3 or 4 hours. Its tough to say. If you really want it to be done by 3pm and in time to rest for an hour or so, keep foil on stand by. If it hasn't hit 175-180 by 2pm, I (personally) would wrap it. Wrapping it will power it through the stall and at 275 cook temp you'll hit 195-200 in no time. IMHO its better to have it finish early from wrapping it and have it rest for a longer period than to have the in-laws sitting at the table waiting for it to finish.

Best of luck!
Yeah, wanting it done by 3pm so it can rest for at least two hours before we pull it and eat around 5. I'll keep the foil ready and watch my internal temps. I'm glad you brought that up as I hadn't given much thought to the stall since I'm new to the game.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:55 PM   #7
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Look for the wiggle room ... will give you a clue how's it going internally.

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Originally Posted by BBQ Bandit View Post
You're in the plateau for temp... it will resume after a few hours.

Congrats on your first run!


When butts cook down... you're cooking a bundle of muscles/fibers surrounding a few bones and a shoulder ball and socket joint.
Its a bunch of connective tissues which holds it all together.

There's a time during the smoke ... (around 155-165 internal temp) - will see a physical transition inside the meat. It will appear the thermometer will stop and "hang" for a few hours... and that's normal. The slow heat will be dissolving the connective tissue over a long time... slowly dissolving collagen and gelatin.

After that time period... about 175 and hotter... check with the bone "wiggle" test. ... should feel like a very, very loose tooth. What you're seeing is how much of the connective tissue freed up around the bone. It will start to free up. If not... let it ride a bit longer. For deeper aspects... use a long thin rod/probe (a thermo stem works, too) and press into the center of the meat... feeling for density of the meat lightening up. The probe should slide "like soft butter" easy all of the to the center of the meat. If you do hit resistance... not ready yet. Utimately... somewhere between 195-205... checking for texture/tenderness with the probe.


Short answer: that's what is known as "It's done when its done".
The meat will tell you when its done.

Good luck on your run... you can do it!
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:58 PM   #8
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If you forget to let it sit, it hardly matters usually.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
If you forget to let it sit, it hardly matters usually.
Yeah, it is one of those, "in a perfect world" things. If you are trying to cook, and pay attention to your guests, you gotta' focus on the basics, and not get hung up in the less important stuff.

Luckily, pork butt lets you take a few liberties without a penalty.

I wouldn't want my first BBQ for the in-laws to be my first brisket.

CD
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:04 PM   #10
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Cool! Thanks guys. Makes me feel a bit better about my plan now that you all have chimed in. I'll be sure to use the therm prob to check for doneness around the 195 mark.

One more question. After I pull it in a large pan do you guys put any sauce or drippings over it or do you typically serve it dry and let those that are eating it dress it out?
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:05 PM   #11
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Your plan is solid with 1 exception> don't go by meat temp! Probe tender of a loose bone will guarantee success. If you run the pit at 300 45-50 min lb average and No Stall!
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggen View Post
Cool! Thanks guys. Makes me feel a bit better about my plan now that you all have chimed in. I'll be sure to use the therm prob to check for doneness around the 195 mark.

One more question. After I pull it in a large pan do you guys put any sauce or drippings over it or do you typically serve it dry and let those that are eating it dress it out?
You could add a finishing sauce if you wanted. Its usually a vinegar based sauce so if someone in the group doesn't like vinegar taste they may be turned off by it.

I usually serve dry and place a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays on the table for those that want a little sauce. I like mine with Mauls BBQ sauce but its a St. Louis staple so I'm a little biased.

EDIT: You can find a finishing sauce recipe using Google.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Your plan is solid with 1 exception> don't go by meat temp! Probe tender of a loose bone will guarantee success. If you run the pit at 300 45-50 min lb average and No Stall!
Yeah, I have read that one shouldn't use the meat temp to determine doneness of a butt. My thinking was that when the meat prob showed 195 it would would put me in the general area to check doneness without having to lift the lid. But I guess I could scale that back to around 185 so that I don't overcook it...
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggen View Post
But I guess I could scale that back to around 185 so that I don't overcook it...
It would take A LOT to overcook a butt. Maybe 6 hours on the 750* hibachi might do it!

Don't worry about overcooking it.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingbassman5 View Post
You could add a finishing sauce if you wanted. Its usually a vinegar based sauce so if someone in the group doesn't like vinegar taste they may be turned off by it.

I usually serve dry and place a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays on the table for those that want a little sauce. I like mine with Mauls BBQ sauce but its a St. Louis staple so I'm a little biased.
I agree. I prefer to serve the meat, with a few sauces to choose from. Let people choose their own sauce.

For pulled pork, I would have one Carolina style vinegar sauce, and perhaps one sweet-hot sauce for the heat seekers, and one kinda' generic BBQ sauce. I never try to tell people what kind of BBQ sauce they "should" like.

CD
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