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View Full Version : Pork Butt Noobie (need tips and pointers)


Cack
11-28-2011, 09:13 AM
I believe I'm going to give my pork butt a shot this weekend. Anyone have any tips and rules of thumb for me to follow? Any injections I should try? Rubs?

Thanks in advance

Militant83
11-28-2011, 09:21 AM
You are going to get a ton of opinions on what works good for other people...the best thing to do is experiment and see what you like and what works best for you. The things to remember are low and slow and pull between 198-205 internal temp. Some guys like the hot and fast method, its not for me but its something else to experiment with. BBQ is all about experimentation and finding what works best for you.
My first shoulder I ever did was just some lowery's season salt and pepper a simple base toy work off of then everytime I cooked after that I tried a diferent rub and injections until I found the perfect combination that I liked. That was about 6 shoulders later. Get yourself a couple BBQ cookbooks and try different things.

Good luck and have fun

Phrasty
11-28-2011, 09:21 AM
This is how I did my last pork butt (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=106582) and how I do them from then on... Really comes out great and full of flavor! A lot of people don't use a pan... but having the butt sit in the rendered juices really brings the flavor up a notch IMO!

Cheers

Midnight Smoke
11-28-2011, 09:29 AM
Start with a minimum 8+ lb Butt; I prefer Bone-In. Slather the Butt with Yellow Mustard and sprinkle heavily with your Rub (This can be done the night before if wanted). Place on counter for about a hour or so before putting into the smoker, (You could Inject at this time). Let your smoker stabilize at your cooking temp and the smoke is running light Blue before putting the meat on.


Cook Indirect at 225-240 Fat cap down, after 6-7 hours start spraying quickly with Apple Juice every hour or so until the Butt is at 165.
When the Butt gets to 165-170; Place onto Foil, spray well with Apple Juice, wrap Butt in foil, and place back into Smoker, and flip to Fat Cap up at this time (make sure the Foil seams are on top).



Continue cooking until Butt is at 195-200, or until the Probe goes in like butter. Remove from Smoker and wrap in old towels and place into a dry cooler for 3-5 hours (less time is Okay but it will be better with a nice long rest), (Butt will still be too hot to handle without gloves). I like to Pull fast but still removing most the Fat before serving, enjoy!

Lake Dogs
11-28-2011, 09:31 AM
Know that "low and slow" is most anything under 300; meaning there is no magic at 220.

Lower temps (like 220) pretty much just delay the cook.

I've always been of the mind to follow the KISS theory.

250, give or take 15 degrees.

Injection; KISS again. Most start with (even competitors) something as simple as apple juice and worchestershire sauce. Some add a little of their rub in it.

Rub, pretty much whatever you like. Some pre-slather on mustard to help hold the rub. I dont; I've never had a problem with the rub coming off... Plowboy's Yardbird is an excellent way to start (IMHO).

Nice sweet blue smoke. I stick with hickory, but your choice/preference here as well.

I'm on a stick burner that can get the meats VERY smoky and black. As a result I/we foil at the 4.25 hour mark. The butt is still wonderfully smoked and ends up a dark mahogany color.

Cook to 200+- (see above). Remove, allow it to rest for an hour or longer (while foiled).

You'll end up with very moist juicy heavenly meat.

Cack
11-28-2011, 10:01 AM
Thanks guys. I've heard people say it'll take like 2 hours per pound. Is that true or way off? I'm trying to find out when I should look to start the cook.

kyle corn
11-28-2011, 11:00 AM
Thanks guys. I've heard people say it'll take like 2 hours per pound. Is that true or way off? I'm trying to find out when I should look to start the cook.

Two hours per pound is pretty high but one thing to remember is those guidelines are just that--guidelines. One thing you'll learn in is you're cooking to temp, not time. Don't overcook a butt that is done just because someone told you to cook it two hours per pound.

You've been given some great advice here, and I really like Lake Dogs' advice: keep it simple. This is your first butt, don't get crazy with your rubs and injections; give yourself a good flavor baseline and minimize the variables and things to screw up. Don't overthink it. Pork butt is very forgiving.

Yesterday a friend brought an 8.5 lb butt over at 3:00 PM and said he was craving pulled pork. I fired up the Big Green Egg to 350 and by 9 PM we were eating dinner. I don't normally do hot and fast cooks, but if I wanted to actually eat last night that was my only option. The method wasn't perfect; the bark kind of dried out and some of the end pieces were a bit chewy, but the meat inside was still very tender and juicy.

Anyways, good luck!

DirtyDirty00
11-28-2011, 11:27 AM
i have an offset. so i try to avoid really long smokes. therefor i smoke hot n fast with pork butts. i do 8 pounders in about 8 hours. i smoke em about 275. once i foil em up ill let the smoker go as high as 300. ive never had a difference between that and keeping it low the whole time. its tender as ever.

Cack
11-28-2011, 11:32 AM
When should I look to foil it?

kyle corn
11-28-2011, 11:39 AM
When should I look to foil it?

IF you're going to foil then do so around 165* internal. Or just leave it alone.

Lake Dogs
11-28-2011, 01:01 PM
I try to get 9+ lb butts. At 250-260 it usually takes between 9.5 and 10 hours, so right at 1 hour / lb. I foil at 4.25 hours into the smoke.

kennedyma
11-28-2011, 01:18 PM
After fretting over my first pork butts, I now know something nobody told me before.

It's very, very hard to screw up this piece of meat. Just let it cook and it's done when it's done Temp, Time, all really don't matter in the big picture. Just cook it till it gets to around 190 and check for doneness. If it's bone in the bone should pull right out.

I've done them hot and fast, low and slow, very low and slow(200) all of them came out great and I didn't get a single complaint about them.

So bottom line: DON'T WORRY and enjoy the Q.

Lake Dogs
11-28-2011, 02:29 PM
I've actually managed to ruin a few early on. It IS hard to do. However, in my case, I found out later that what I thought was 220 cooking temp was actually more like 185. That (at least not mine) does NOT make a good butt.

Relax, have a beer, cook it in a nice mid-range temperature, have another beer, burn your fingers pulling some wonderful hot barbecue, have another beer.

Divemaster
11-28-2011, 02:45 PM
This is a thread we keep in the Q-Talk Road map.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=1015815&postcount=67

Basically, the same question you had and how he made it through it.

Ron_L
11-28-2011, 03:11 PM
What type of pit are you cooking on/in, Cack? That can make a big difference.

When I'm cooking butts at home I keep things very simple.

1. I like big butts, and I cannot lie :-D. 8 lbs minimum, but I prefer 9 - 10 lbs, bone in.
2. Trim off any thick areas of fat and any loose bits from a sloppy meat packer
3. Inject with Chris Lilly's injection mixture (recipe below)
4. Rub heavily.
5. Put it in the cooker at whatever temp your cooker like to settle in at. For mine that's usually 250-ish.
6. Forget about it for a few hours. No mopping, no opening the cooker door.
7. When the bark is the color that I like (dark red or mahogany) foil, or don't :) If I foil I add about 1/2 cup of the injection liquid (fresh, not used :) ).
8. When the temp probe slides in with little resistance remove from pit and open the foil for a few minutes to release some heat to stop the carry over cooking.
9. Place in a preheated cooler insulated with towels and let it rest for at least two hours.

For my cooker at 250 I average around 70 - 80 minutes per pound, but I budget 90 minutes per pound just in case I get a stubborn butt.


Chris Lilly Injection:
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

Cack
11-28-2011, 03:32 PM
What type of pit are you cooking on/in, Cack? That can make a big difference.

When I'm cooking butts at home I keep things very simple.

1. I like big butts, and I cannot lie :-D. 8 lbs minimum, but I prefer 9 - 10 lbs, bone in.
2. Trim off any thick areas of fat and any loose bits from a sloppy meat packer
3. Inject with Chris Lilly's injection mixture (recipe below)
4. Rub heavily.
5. Put it in the cooker at whatever temp your cooker like to settle in at. For mine that's usually 250-ish.
6. Forget about it for a few hours. No mopping, no opening the cooker door.
7. When the bark is the color that I like (dark red or mahogany) foil, or don't :) If I foil I add about 1/2 cup of the injection liquid (fresh, not used :) ).
8. When the temp probe slides in with little resistance remove from pit and open the foil for a few minutes to release some heat to stop the carry over cooking.
9. Place in a preheated cooler insulated with towels and let it rest for at least two hours.

For my cooker at 250 I average around 70 - 80 minutes per pound, but I budget 90 minutes per pound just in case I get a stubborn butt.


Chris Lilly Injection:
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce


I will definitely give the Injection a try ... how do you think it'd go with Yardbirds?

I'm using a Brinkmann stack smoker

Militant83
11-28-2011, 03:35 PM
This is how I did my last pork butt (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=106582) and how I do them from then on... Really comes out great and full of flavor! A lot of people don't use a pan... but having the butt sit in the rendered juices really brings the flavor up a notch IMO!

Cheers

Ive used the pan before and I liked that method as well..

kyle corn
11-28-2011, 03:36 PM
I will definitely give the Injection a try ... how do you think it'd go with Yardbirds?

I'm using a Brinkmann stack smoker

Yardbird and the Chris Lily injection is really good.

DirtyDirty00
11-28-2011, 03:39 PM
definitly do bone in.


i dont even probe to see when they are done. well ok i do. i do measure the temp.

but once its done you will know it. it wont even feel like a pork butt anymore. if you foil itll feel like the foil is full with jello. thats how loose itll be.

Ron_L
11-28-2011, 03:41 PM
Yardbird and the Chris Lily injection is really good.

Agreed.

Cack
11-28-2011, 04:34 PM
Yardbird and the Chris Lily injection is really good.

Agreed.

sounds like a plan ... I'll report back with my findings this weekend

Jamesj5223
11-28-2011, 06:26 PM
The only mistake I've made with pork shoulder is not starting my smoke early enough. I ended up rushing and pulling a little early. No matter what the temp, give it a little extra time. You can always foil and store in an oven or a cooler for hours. It is very difficult, on the other hand, to speed up if you suddenly find you are an hour from "dinner time" and the butt is at 170.

Cack
11-28-2011, 07:53 PM
The only mistake I've made with pork shoulder is not starting my smoke early enough. I ended up rushing and pulling a little early. No matter what the temp, give it a little extra time. You can always foil and store in an oven or a cooler for hours. It is very difficult, on the other hand, to speed up if you suddenly find you are an hour from "dinner time" and the butt is at 170.

Thanks man, I plan on starting the cook early in the morning so hopefully it won't matter

Pugsley
11-28-2011, 09:43 PM
What type of pit are you cooking on/in, Cack? That can make a big difference.

When I'm cooking butts at home I keep things very simple.

1. I like big butts, and I cannot lie :-D. 8 lbs minimum, but I prefer 9 - 10 lbs, bone in.
2. Trim off any thick areas of fat and any loose bits from a sloppy meat packer
3. Inject with Chris Lilly's injection mixture (recipe below)
4. Rub heavily.
5. Put it in the cooker at whatever temp your cooker like to settle in at. For mine that's usually 250-ish.
6. Forget about it for a few hours. No mopping, no opening the cooker door.
7. When the bark is the color that I like (dark red or mahogany) foil, or don't :) If I foil I add about 1/2 cup of the injection liquid (fresh, not used :) ).
8. When the temp probe slides in with little resistance remove from pit and open the foil for a few minutes to release some heat to stop the carry over cooking.
9. Place in a preheated cooler insulated with towels and let it rest for at least two hours.

For my cooker at 250 I average around 70 - 80 minutes per pound, but I budget 90 minutes per pound just in case I get a stubborn butt.


Chris Lilly Injection:
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce


oh yeah what Ron said
jlm

tortaboy
11-28-2011, 11:07 PM
Know that "low and slow" is most anything under 300; meaning there is no magic at 220.

Lower temps (like 220) pretty much just delay the cook.

I've always been of the mind to follow the KISS theory.

250, give or take 15 degrees.

Injection; KISS again. Most start with (even competitors) something as simple as apple juice and worchestershire sauce. Some add a little of their rub in it.

Rub, pretty much whatever you like. Some pre-slather on mustard to help hold the rub. I dont; I've never had a problem with the rub coming off... Plowboy's Yardbird is an excellent way to start (IMHO).

Nice sweet blue smoke. I stick with hickory, but your choice/preference here as well.

I'm on a stick burner that can get the meats VERY smoky and black. As a result I/we foil at the 4.25 hour mark. The butt is still wonderfully smoked and ends up a dark mahogany color.

Cook to 200+- (see above). Remove, allow it to rest for an hour or longer (while foiled).

You'll end up with very moist juicy heavenly meat.

Lake Dogs,

I'd like to experiment with injections. When you use the apple juice, can you taste the apple sweetness in the finished product?...or are you basically adding additional moisture?

DirtyDirty00
11-29-2011, 01:46 AM
Thanks man, I plan on starting the cook early in the morning so hopefully it won't matter

All according to what temp u plan on cooking at. If u have a #8 butt n wake up at 5 n get the butt on the smoker at 6 and cook at 225 hoping to eat at 5 or 6pm then it will matter. That's why I cook higher n faster around 250-275

Cack
11-29-2011, 07:16 AM
It's a 9.6lb butt, and I'll cook around 250 mark and see how that does.

Lake Dogs
11-29-2011, 07:59 AM
Lake Dogs,

I'd like to experiment with injections. When you use the apple juice, can you taste the apple sweetness in the finished product?...or are you basically adding additional moisture?

Good question. If I'd never tried them side-by-side I'd say "No", but having
does taste tests side-by-side, the honest answer is "Yes", but frankly it's very slight. So slight that I add in some rub and other spices to "kick it up a notch".

AMoore
11-29-2011, 08:41 AM
What type of pit are you cooking on/in, Cack? That can make a big difference.

When I'm cooking butts at home I keep things very simple.

1. I like big butts, and I cannot lie :-D. 8 lbs minimum, but I prefer 9 - 10 lbs, bone in.
2. Trim off any thick areas of fat and any loose bits from a sloppy meat packer
3. Inject with Chris Lilly's injection mixture (recipe below)
4. Rub heavily.
5. Put it in the cooker at whatever temp your cooker like to settle in at. For mine that's usually 250-ish.
6. Forget about it for a few hours. No mopping, no opening the cooker door.
7. When the bark is the color that I like (dark red or mahogany) foil, or don't :) If I foil I add about 1/2 cup of the injection liquid (fresh, not used :) ).
8. When the temp probe slides in with little resistance remove from pit and open the foil for a few minutes to release some heat to stop the carry over cooking.
9. Place in a preheated cooler insulated with towels and let it rest for at least two hours.

For my cooker at 250 I average around 70 - 80 minutes per pound, but I budget 90 minutes per pound just in case I get a stubborn butt.


Chris Lilly Injection:
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

This is pretty much how I do it and yes...you will find a STUBBORN butt on occassion. Good injection recipe...IMO

Cack
11-29-2011, 09:11 AM
9. Place in a preheated cooler insulated with towels and let it rest for at least two hours.



This is the only thing I don't really get. What do you mean by a "preheated COOLER" ...?

kihrer
11-29-2011, 09:17 AM
This is the only thing I don't really get. What do you mean by a "preheated COOLER" ...?

I fill mine (about half way up) with very hot water and let it set for 30 minutes or so. Then dump the water out.

Ken

Cack
11-29-2011, 09:19 AM
I fill mine (about half way up) with very hot water and let it set for 30 minutes or so. Then dump the water out.

Ken

But a regular ... beer ... cooler? What's the deal with the blanets if it's in water ...?

The Cosmic Pig
11-29-2011, 09:30 AM
This is pretty much how I do it and yes...you will find a STUBBORN butt on occassion. Good injection recipe...IMO

What's the deal with these butts??? I had one day before yesterday. The other three acted normal - reached internal temp at the usual time, etc. The stubborn one went to 191 and stayed there for a while. It then backed down to 189. I cooked it for three hours more than the others, and it never moved above 191. I used two thermometers to be sure I didn't have a bad probe. It was obviously done, but it never reached temp. Is it internal fat that causes this phenomenon? I haven't eaten any of it yet, as it's being served tonight at the renewal of some friends' wedding vows.

The only thing I'll add to what has been said is that if you cook "hot and fast," you have to reach a higher internal temp to get tender meat. Of course, the probe check method - how easily the probe slides in the meat - is a foolprooof method unless you have the aforementioned "stubborn butt." I've only had two, myself. Good luck, brother!

Lake Dogs
11-29-2011, 09:41 AM
But a regular ... beer ... cooler? What's the deal with the blanets if it's in water ...?

he empties the water BEFORE putting anything in it. he uses the hot water to pre-warm the warmer... to me it's unnecessary unless that cooler is REALLY cold...

BTW, that "blanket" is going to get seriously nasty with grease. I use old (clean) t-shirts and usually end up throwing them away when done.

plethoraofpinatas
11-29-2011, 09:44 AM
But a regular ... beer ... cooler? What's the deal with the blanets if it's in water ...?

You fill up a regular beer cooler with hot water to heat up the insulation, then POUR THE WATER OUT. Wrap your foiled butt in the towels for extra insulation and let it rest. The towels and the cooler will provide the insulation needed to keep it at a high temperature while the juices redistribute in the meat.

The Cosmic Pig
11-29-2011, 10:05 AM
he empties the water BEFORE putting anything in it. he uses the hot water to pre-warm the warmer... to me it's unnecessary unless that cooler is REALLY cold...

BTW, that "blanket" is going to get seriously nasty with grease. I use old (clean) t-shirts and usually end up throwing them away when done.

I put the butts in aluminum pans (to avoid a greasy mess) with foil over them or wrapped in foil, no blankets, no preheating the cooler with water, nothing. I do bring the cooler in the house and open it for a while if it's really cold outside, but that's it. Mine stay as hot as I need them to be this way. :thumb:

Cack
11-29-2011, 10:16 AM
he empties the water BEFORE putting anything in it. he uses the hot water to pre-warm the warmer... to me it's unnecessary unless that cooler is REALLY cold...

BTW, that "blanket" is going to get seriously nasty with grease. I use old (clean) t-shirts and usually end up throwing them away when done.


Thanks LD. I recently moved in with my gf so the old shirts getting thrown out wont be a problem to find (women pfft)

kihrer
11-29-2011, 10:43 AM
to me it's unnecessary unless that cooler is REALLY cold...



I agree. I don't pre-warm my cooler unless it is cold and I use foil pans and wrap the top with foil. If I need to hold it for more than a couple of hours I might wrap with a towel but I usually just put it in the cooler wrapped with foil.

kihrer
11-29-2011, 10:45 AM
Thanks LD. I recently moved in with my gf so the old shirts getting thrown out wont be a problem to find (women pfft)

Just an FYI... you might want to get a cooler just for BBQ (or a Cambro). Your beer cooler will smell like BBQ once you use it for this purpose. Even after using bleach! But BBQ smells good to me:becky:

Cack
11-29-2011, 11:40 AM
Just an FYI... you might want to get a cooler just for BBQ (or a Cambro). Your beer cooler will smell like BBQ once you use it for this purpose. Even after using bleach! But BBQ smells good to me:becky:

As I was reading this I was thinking "what's the problem?"

kyle corn
11-29-2011, 12:26 PM
he empties the water BEFORE putting anything in it. he uses the hot water to pre-warm the warmer... to me it's unnecessary unless that cooler is REALLY cold...

BTW, that "blanket" is going to get seriously nasty with grease. I use old (clean) t-shirts and usually end up throwing them away when done.

I use two large beach towels for this purpose and have never had any issues with grease. I wrap tightly in foil and then wrap with the towels, you shouldn't need to throw away your blankets (or shirts or towels) when you're done. Maybe use more foil?

Cack
11-29-2011, 12:42 PM
I use two large beach towels for this purpose and have never had any issues with grease. I wrap tightly in foil and then wrap with the towels, you shouldn't need to throw away your blankets (or shirts or towels) when you're done. Maybe use more foil?

I think he was saying he doesn't use the foil.

Question. Someone mentioned opening the foil to let that heat get out. Do you change the foil or just reclose it and wrap in a blanket?

Lake Dogs
11-29-2011, 01:43 PM
I think he was saying he doesn't use the foil.

Question. Someone mentioned opening the foil to let that heat get out. Do you change the foil or just reclose it and wrap in a blanket?

I do (use foil). I foil right at 4.25 to 4.5 hours into the cook. Double wrapped HD foil. BUT, the juices are tremendous. I'll take them straight from the smoker into the cooler (aka. warmer). I've lined the bottom of the cooler with news paper. Then I pack shirts/towels around the butts/shoulders. Usually I'm making 4 to 10 butts... If just doing one, I'd wrap the towel around it. Either way, the way we do the butts, there's a LOT of juice (rendered fat) still in the foil. LOTS.

In competitions and when cooking for others I (we; the team) always get high marks on how moist and tender (but not mushy) our pork is. One of the keys to this, IMHO, is how and when we foil. The first 4.25-4.5 hours the butts/shoulders are cooked on top of cookie sheets/pans. When we foil I pour about 1/2 of the juices in the pan over the butt/shoulder and then wrap the butt/shoulder up TIGHT. At that time we just put them back on the rack normal... We end up with VERY moist and juicy meat, but man it makes a helluva mess with the rendered fat if you're not careful. As a result I ruin many old cotton shirts/towels...

Cack
11-29-2011, 03:32 PM
How long should I let the butt sit in the fridge to dethaw?

Pyle's BBQ
11-29-2011, 10:32 PM
How long should I let the butt sit in the fridge to dethaw?

Until they are thawed.

Cack
11-30-2011, 06:24 AM
Until they are thawed.

Haha ok probably not the best way to ask that.

I have a 9.6lb butt in the freezer. How long would it take to thaw out?

DVBBQ
12-01-2011, 11:20 PM
are you thawing in air? or with a water drip... With water things can be sped up... but for a 9 lb butt id say a good 9-10 hrs to thaw fully.

Cack
12-04-2011, 02:53 PM
So the butt is in the smoker and sitting at 161 currently. I just foiled it (a hair before the 165 target previously posted). I was sure I saw it before, but can't seem to find it skimming through. The desired temp is around 200 right? What's the range? I want to think I remember it being maybe around 185-200.

Militant83
12-04-2011, 03:13 PM
So the butt is in the smoker and sitting at 161 currently. I just foiled it (a hair before the 165 target previously posted). I was sure I saw it before, but can't seem to find it skimming through. The desired temp is around 200 right? What's the range? I want to think I remember it being maybe around 185-200.

I pull in between 198-208

Ron_L
12-04-2011, 03:23 PM
The correct temp is the one when the butt probes like butter. That can be anywhere from 180 - 210.

kyle corn
12-04-2011, 04:55 PM
If you have a bone in butt try tugging on the bone, if it pulls right out then you're good. A butt can be done anywhere from 180 and up but most will be closer to 200.