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Unread 10-11-2010, 12:01 PM   #1
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Default Tough Pork Butt

Almost had things perfected on my ECB and moved up to a UDS. Now, I'm still trying to get this smoking and UDS thing perfected.

On my way home from an out-of-town family party, at about 10:30 pm on Saturday, I had a craving for pulled pork. So, I stopped in at Mejiers and picked up a SMALL 4.5 lbs bone-in pork butt. When I got home, I threw some Yardbird on it and threw it in the refrigerator.

At 8:30 am on Sunday, I lit my UDS with about 1.5 chimney's of unlit and 1/2 of lit, and a few chunks of hickory on top of the lit. It settled in at a solid 205* on the side and 235* in the middle. I thought that was perfect, so in went the pork butt just before 10:00 am.

The UDS was rock solid on temp. I checked on it every hour or so and didn't have to do any adjustments. After 4 hours, I flipped the butt so it was now fatcap up and stuck a thermometer in the meat - 152*. Smoker was at 235* so.... it slowly rose and then hit the leveled out for an hour and then slowly rose some more. At 6:00 (8 hours) pm it was up to around 172*. The natives were starting to get restless, so I threw some foil on it and raised the smoker to around 275* at the center. It started to come up quickly after that.

Around 7:15 pm, it hit 195*. The probe seemed to slide in and clear juice, but it was tough. And the meat wasn't pulling from the bone. I wanted to cook longer but I needed to serve. I removed it and foiled it for another 20 minutes and then pulled it. The meet was done, dry and extremely tough. It was tough to pull apart. It had a real dark, ~1" deep pink smoke ring. Taste/flavored was very good, just tough and dry.

Was my problem just not cooking long enough? I ended up doing about 2 hours per pound. I'm used to smoking up at 275* and am always done in under 1.5hours/#. Was this just the difference with 235*? Do the small cuts take longer? Did I just get a bad cut of meat? (First time doing one this small, and first from Meijer).

Any help you can give a new guy would be appreciated.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 12:16 PM   #2
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Sounds like it should have gone longer to me. Pork's done around 165* or so, taken up to 200-ish to break the hard stuff down.

Also could have just been a bad piece of meat. I've had small ones take 12-14 hours and I've had 10#ers done in 9-10.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 12:47 PM   #3
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I would say you hadn't finished cooking it. I always grab the bone and wiggle it.When it wiggles freely and the probe test passes you are golden. I think i usually pull around 202* for pulled pork.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 01:52 PM   #4
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Pork Butt? Take to 210 internal and it will pull like Butta!!!!!

Keep on smoking!!!!!!
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Unread 10-11-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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It does sound like a awfully long time for a 4.5lb butt. You might want to check your thermometers.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 01:59 PM   #6
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Especially with a smaller butt you need to go higher on the internal temp. I have seen a 6# butt not so great at about 195* internal temp and about an 8 hour smoke. But I just did 15# shoulder separated into two 7 to 8 pounders that only hit 193 after 14 hours and pulled like nothing else I have ever done. Best pork by far. I now stick to larger cuts only, I don't mess with small butts anymore. Hope the guests liked it.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 02:01 PM   #7
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Rushing it will not do the job. Should have left the UDS at 225. Butt removed at 200-205. Cover in towel and let rest in a cooler for at least an hour or two. I pull mine out of the UDS at 203 and leave in the cooler for 3 to 4 hours. They always come out great and cook pretty fast in the UDS over that direct heat.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 04:36 PM   #8
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Maybe I go overboard with the fuel, but 1.5 chimneys of unlit doesn't sound like nearly enough charcoal to keep you at the temps you were getting for almost 12 hours (from when you lit it until your cook was done). Maybe a problem with your thermometer?
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Unread 10-11-2010, 04:40 PM   #9
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Like everyone has said, you need to go higher and it always helps to let it rest about an hour or even 3.

195°F is fine if you've taken an 8-9 lb butt up very slowly over 8-10 hours and plan on letting it rest in a cooler for 3-4 hours. Otherwise, take it past 200°F.
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Unread 10-11-2010, 06:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

This was my third time doing pulled pork. The first two were 7# on my ECB. They turned out great, even though my temps were usually too high and they got done too early. But yeah, with those I pulled them at ~202* and they were done and tasty.

I'm not sure what happened this time. I'll check my two thermometers. The one on the side was brand new from Spicewine (because they look so cool). I was in too much of a hurry to calibrate it. The other was a 12" turkey fryer that if I stick it in the lid on an angle end up right next to the grate next to the pork.... I checked it with boiling water and it was close. Maybe it was two charcoals... I had more than enough and some left over.

I guess I just need more practice.... oh darn! :)
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Unread 10-12-2010, 05:07 AM   #11
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K,

Don't sweat it, I need so much more practice and experience in all areas of Que. Don't let one cook get you down. Keep smoking, keep throwing meat over the fire, things will get better.
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Unread 10-12-2010, 07:59 AM   #12
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Gotta break the 200. 205 is good for me but every one is a little different. Forget the time/LBS. It's done when it's done. Lesson learned start early, rest longer, eat better.
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Unread 10-12-2010, 09:40 AM   #13
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After getting an insulated cooker with fan/controller, I fell into a routine of leaving home in the morning with cooker at 225 and coming home to ramp up the temps for my convenience. The quality of meat suffered and I thought I had ran into a different meat source or something. I got a tip from a seasoned veteran that basically suggested I was driving out the juices I had worked hard to create. He talked about how the old school technique was to start high and let the fire burn out overnight to create that juicy, tender meat.

So... if pressed for time, I now cook at a higher temp to start and then ramp down to let the meat "rest" and redistribute juices. Inverting my cook temps put my quality back to where it had been for years before I bought that cooker/controller.

Now I need one of the new pit controllers that monitors meat temps and ramps the pit temp down as the meat gets closer to being done. I still want my convenience. LOL
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Unread 10-12-2010, 11:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prudog View Post
So... if pressed for time, I now cook at a higher temp to start and then ramp down to let the meat "rest" and redistribute juices. Inverting my cook temps put my quality back to where it had been for years before I bought that cooker/controller.
Good tip. I'll remember that.
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Unread 10-12-2010, 09:01 PM   #15
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I cook a lot of butts the only time I ever had a tough was a picnic it was pork from hell it never did get tender.
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