View Full Version : New member smoking pork butt

04-04-2013, 04:05 PM
Hello Brethern!
New member here, I've always loved some good BBQ, but never really smoked much myself. I was gifted a Brinkmann SNG lately and have been picking up what has quickly become a hobby. I have had several good runs so far (ribs and chicken), but looking to do my first pork butt tomorrow. I have done some research into how to have a successful pork butt, but looking for some suggestions and ways to improve my experience, so please provide criticism. I have a lot riding on this as I will be bring the pulled pork along with me to a tailgate for the Huskers spring game on Saturday, and I do not want to disappoint friends and family.

I have modified my Brinkman SNG in several ways that I have found online. Sustaining temps has been the biggest problem, especially sustaining temps above 220. I have made some changes to the charcoal pan to get more airflow to the coals, and will see how those mods go tomorrow. I can describe my smoker more if you think it will help improve my final product.

I have a 13lb pork shoulder that I plan on marinating tonight in apple cider vinegar after rubbing with a combo of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar all over mustard. I will let that sit until tomorrow morning (I luckily get the day off) and start as soon as I get my cup of coffee. From what I have read, it will take at least an hour per pound. I plan on smoking with apple chunks at around 225-250. I will wrap the pork butt with foil once it reaches 165. At this point, depending on charcoal supplies, I may either finish on the smoker or in the oven. I will continue to smoke it until the internal temps are 195 at which I will wrap with foil and towels and let sit.

If I finish around 10 Friday, what is the best way to store the meat till Sat morning?

Let me know what you would do different, I look forward to any advice!

04-04-2013, 04:17 PM
What time are you planning on starting? If you are gonna cook one that big you will either have to foil it or bring you sleeping bag cause your gonna be there awhile smoking at 225.

As for storing, I store mine in an aluminum pan covered with aluminum foil. I put some of my vinegar sauce in it as well. When i re-heat it will come out as if you just pulled it.

Another though, which may be hard considering you are having trouble controlling temps is to start later in the day and smoke it overnight so that it is ready Saturday morning. With the thin walled smokers, temperature control is just the nature of the beast. Let us know how it turns out.

04-04-2013, 04:22 PM
Couple of suggestions.
1. Try a pork injection. You can find Chris Lilly's Pork injection recipe online. It works great
2. Plan more time than you need. Looks like you're not eating until Saturday morning and finish Friday night so this is good buffer.
3. I like the idea of the foil, but note, you won't get that nice bark people talk about as you're essentially steaming it at that point. Still awesome BBQ IMO. I would suggesting putting a little beer or apple juice inside the foil with the meat.
4. To keep it warm until Saturday morning, once the meat reaches 195, put it in the smallest cooler you can find that everything will fit into. Fill empty space with old (clean) towels. I've kept large amounts of BBQ this way for over 12 hours and it was still too hot to pull with bare hands.
5. I use gas, so other than some of the controllers that maintain the temp for you I can't give any advice here.

04-04-2013, 04:30 PM
Oh ya, remote probe thermometer and if you're checking it every 5 minutes, the temp will stall in the upper 170s to low 180s. This is normal as the fat renders so just let it happen. IMO, this is where cooked meat turns into awesome BBQ.

04-04-2013, 04:42 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone! I may try to just keep it warm through the night tomorrow, and I was also worried that I may be up late watching the temps. But if I need to stay up late, to ensure good bbq, thats what will happen.

I think I will try the towel technique mentioned, and an hour or two before taking off for the tailgate check the temps in case it needs to be warmed up.

I thought about injecting it, but the biggest problem is I don't have an injector! Any good homemade remedies? Is it needed? is it worth running to the store to get one? I have purchased some apple juice already, if I let it stay on the grill I was going to "spray" the apple juice on every hour or so once it got warmer.

04-04-2013, 04:45 PM
As far as the temps being stalled in the 165 to 180 range, how long is this to be expected for? Because of the temp problems I have had, I have been a temp hawk and enjoy watching both the grill probes and the meat probe.

04-04-2013, 04:47 PM
My advice. KISS.

(Keep It Simple Stupid (especially for a first go))

Rub the but with a good tasting commercial rub a few hours before the cook (or overnight). Smoke it still it hits 165, foil, and then since you are cooking on an ECB, finish in the oven at 250. Check the meat when it hits around 190 for butter like toothpick tenderness and a loose bone (if its a bone-in butt). Wrap in a towel and place in a cooler for 2 or 3 hours. Pull It, then place in the refrigerator to be reheated the next day. To reheat, place in a foil covered pan and heat in the oven on the lowest temperature. This will bring the meat up to serving temp but won't begin to recook it.

Have fun and good luck!

04-04-2013, 04:57 PM
IMO a good stainless steel injector is worth it. the plastic ones not so much. If it was between nothing and injecting, I'd say run to the store and go get one, but because you're already marinating it I wouldn't worry so much.

I spray mine with apple juice too (note, I also put apple juice instead of water in the drip pan....) but I don't do it on a schedule. Just every time I want to reach in and take a "sample" of the bark :-)

Jon David
04-04-2013, 04:59 PM
First off welcome, second this place is a wealth of knowledge and these guys are great! Start early by letting your smoker get to temp and maintaining that temp for 30 minutes to an hour and get everything where you like it then put your meat on. I don't know how you plan on checking temps but a digital probe is always nice. If you have a cooler that's not stirafoam I suggest preheating it with boiling water about 45 minutes before you think your gonna be done. Dry out the cooler and wrap the meat in a towel put it in the cooler then fill the cooler up with towels. I've kept one hot like that for 8+ hours doing it that way. So if you finish into the wee hours of Saturday morning that would work. If your done say 10 or 11 pm Friday night let it rest for an hour then pull, let it cool a little then cover it and put it in the fridge. When your ready for it turn the oven to 300 add about a half to 3/4 cup of apple juice and some of of your rub, about a table spoon mix it up and poor over the meat and let it warm up. Doesn't dry it out and it's ready to go, I did this last weekend for Easter. But good luck and hope some of this helps!

Gnaws on Pigs
04-04-2013, 05:05 PM
I wouldn't worry about injection or trying to keep it warm overnight. After it gets done enough that the bone is loose, the butt is jiggly, and it probes like butter, let it rest an hour or tow, then pull it and reheat the next day. If you're gonna sauce it, wait until you reheat it to put the sauce on. I regularly smoke 20-30 lbs of butts at once, then pull and vacuum seal in meal-sized portions and freeze. As long as you don't put sauce on it before refrigerating or freezing, it's just as good as fresh when you reheat it.

04-04-2013, 05:06 PM
I have a 13lb pork shoulder that I plan on marinating tonight in apple cider vinegar after rubbing with a combo of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar all over mustard.

I'm assuming you meant rubbing after you marinate?

El Ropo
04-04-2013, 05:18 PM
I agree with keep it simple. First time doing a larger piece of meat, I'd skip marinating and injecting. Pork shoulder has plenty of internal moisture and flavor. Get your cooker going, and prep the meat with a simple rub. Toss the meat on the cooker and power through at higher temps if possible. In the 260-300 F area will make for a less drawn out cook.

Remember, smoking isn't about seeing a massive cloud of smoke coming out your exhaust at all times. It's about having a clean burning fire that barely shows any smoke. Thin blue to invisible smoke is the ticket for any long cook.

Don't peek, don't mop, spritz, etc. Let the cooker do its thing.

If you need to open the cooker up to add fuel, etc. do it as fast as possible. When the meat is probe tender, it's done. No set temperature with this cut of meat. It's done when it's ready to fall apart (probe tender, or when the bone wiggles and almost falls out)

I'm assuming you are using some sort of ECB. If you could give details of the mods you've done, maybe some people could help with more advice on tweaking the cooker. I'm well versed with ECBS and making them less labor intensive.

04-04-2013, 05:59 PM
agree with el ropo!!!

04-04-2013, 06:19 PM
My smoker is the same that can be seen here:


As far as mods, I've added a new temp probe to the top. I have turned the legs from the inside to the outside. I have drilled 3/8'' holes in the charcoal pan along a 1.5'' line and added a lever to create a vent, that way I can attempt to control the air inflow. I have a new grate that sits just about an 1'' off of the bottom of the charcoal pan that will attempt to keep ash off the coals.

I have considered adding another vent up top, but have not gone to that effort yet. I wanted to see how the holes to the charcoal pan go first. I have also seen people block the 1/2'' gap between the lid and the body cylinder, but haven't done that myself.

If you know of anything else, feel free to add.

04-04-2013, 06:25 PM
Thanks again for all of the input!

I am partial to marinades, but never tried an injection, so for comforts sake I think I will go with the marinades. (Plus I have had success with the apple cider vinegar) I like a lot of these little facts.

I may have made the mistake of adding the sauce early before freezing leftovers. I am not opposed to a long day of smoking, so I will try to keep in on there.

Also Ropo, you don't advise spritzing with apple juice every hour or two?

El Ropo
04-04-2013, 06:41 PM
spritzing/mopping is a technique leftover from the old days of open pit bbqing. With a closed cooker, it just lets the heat out. Some people understand that, and still spritz for flavor by spraying with various concoctions. But the point is spritzing won't do squat for moisture retention. It is done for flavor.

04-04-2013, 07:02 PM
I'm in the KISS/ "no need to inject/spritz" camp- lost heat = extended cooking time. Butts are good 'n juicy all by their little selves.

I'm a relative newbie and have had success (juicy, tasty, barky) w/ just a homemade rub (no mustard), no injection, no spritzing, and by foiling and coolering. (Btw, a hot water bottle makes heating the cooler easier. Cost ~$12, and comes in handy when you get old like me).

I think the top vent mod would be a good thing, although I can't speak from experience.

Good luck and (try to) have fun!

04-04-2013, 07:26 PM
I also agree with the idea of not doing any spritzing or mopping in a small enclosed cooker, you are just going to add cook time. There is nothing to be gained from that technique. Every time you open that lid, you are adding excess oxygen to the cooker, which causes temperature to spike, then drop, do that often enough and all you do is chase temepertures. On a pork butt, I do not touch the lid, until I get to a point, where I am either wrapping, or checking for color.

I am also not a fan of marinating, especially with anything acidic, it gives the surface a sour taste in my experience. If I am not cooking for a competition, I do not marinade or inject pork, if you cook it until the bone pulls clean, there will be plenty of moisture. Especially if you foil or pan.

If you rub then marinate, doesn't the rub come off?

04-04-2013, 07:30 PM
I agree with El Ropo K.I. S.S. !! Cooking on a ECB is a challenge. Get it hot and put the smoke to it until your fire dies then transfer to a 300 deg oven to finish ( when the bone wiggles loose) wrap in foil and into a preheated cooler fill the empty space with old towels it will stay hot for 6-8 hrs. IMO the longer the rest the better the Butt.

04-04-2013, 07:39 PM
The spritzing like El Ropo said is more for flavor than moisture retention. Depending on what you are spritzing with, you may not even notice a difference. You will be very surprised how much you extend your cooking time by opening your cooker every hour or two to spray apple juice on it. As for the bark....put your butt on the smoker without foil until you get the bark that you want and then pull it and foil it for the remaining time. You get the best of both worlds.

04-04-2013, 09:04 PM
As far as the marinade, I think I will still do that tonight. My wife will thank me if it has a sour flavor on the outside as she loves sour and acidic taste, and me I will take the chance but sparingly. I am applying a rub tomorrow morning.

I will also not spritz and do my absolute best not to open the lid. I do have a digital meat thermometer with cable that can extend outside of the smoker, so I can monitor the temp without opening the lid.

04-05-2013, 10:16 AM
Oh, one last thing I remember hearing/reading somewhere that's been good advice for me. When temp drifts high or low and you must adjust things, make a small change to your controls (gas knob for me, vents for you) and wait 5 minutes before touching the smoker again. There's usually a big delay from input to result in temperature so you need to see where things settle before you go messing with it again. If you don't you'll be chasing temperatures a lot.

El Ropo
04-05-2013, 11:54 AM
if temp swings are your concern, place a digital thermo in your oven, set temp to 350, then monitor the temps on the digital readout. You'll find that a household oven has huge swings in temp. If your cooker is goin up and down by 30-40 degrees, don't sweat it. If it starts to climb in temp to 300, don't sweat it. Just adjust the cook time. Chasing cooking temps is a waste of energy, let the magic happen. Choking a cooker down to 230, when it wants to run at 270 is one of the largest sins in my BBQ world :)

04-05-2013, 01:21 PM
Just under 6hrs in, Internal temps are around 150-160 range. I have been pretty happy with my mods to the SNG. The temps have been much higher and much more consistent. 225-250 the entire time and I have only had to touch it twice thus far.