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Pork Butt on the PBC -- to score the fat cap or not?

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    Pork Butt on the PBC -- to score the fat cap or not?

    So I have a lovely pork butt defrosting in the fridge right now for a Sunday cook. I like to keep things simple with a pork butt on the PBC. My standard is a binder of mustard followed by a copious dusting of Malcom Reed's Killer Hogs' Hot Rub and that is it. 275-325 until it stalls out at about 165, then wrap and go to 203. Rest for an hour in a faux cambro. Done.

    Recently, I've been curious about the technique of scoring the fat cap. Malcom even did this in one of his recent videos. Apparently it is really tasty... or at least something to snack on while one shreds the meat.

    Historically, I've always placed the fat cap down (towards the fire on the PBC) to "protect the meat." I'm not sure if it really makes that much difference, although it does give the fat an easier path to drip down onto the coals.

    Any recommendations if scoring the fat is worth doing....and if it should be fat cap up or down on the PBC?

    Never scored one so not sure. I trim the cap on pork butt to about 1/8" and cook cap side up. But I will check out Malcolm's method. He has never steered me wrong ! Anxious to see the responses to your post.


    • BruceB
      BruceB commented
      Editing a comment
      I always trimmed the fat cap close on pork butts. Usually used bone-in so I was more concerned with getting enough hooks in it to keep it from falling into the coal basket! I finally decided to always move it to the rack after the stall, haven't lost one since. I don't think I paid much attention to the fat cap orientation.

    • RustyHaines
      RustyHaines commented
      Editing a comment
      I had one come apart years ago and since then I also move to the rack after the stall. Takes the worry out of the cook and I have never noticed a difference in the results.

    I like to score it, nice little rendered nuggets of goodness when you pull.


    • Steve B
      Steve B commented
      Editing a comment
      Interesting take Jerod. Never thought of that. But also never had a big enough fat cap on any of my pork butts to do that.

      Mainly I trim them down to the meat to get the dry brining and rub to penetrate and stick. In that order a day apart.

    Fat cap on a butt? Or are you talking picnic? I don't see anything on butts around here I would call a fat cap. A picnic usually have some skin with a layer of fat....


    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment
      I dug through some past cook pictures and do see a fat cap. sorry for doubting you.

    Score it - gives your salt a chance to penetrate depending on how deep your score, and having some tasty rub on top and in between on the fat makes for some tasty goodness at the end. Also tend to do this when cooking pork belly.


      I usually cook mine fat cap down, but this last time I did it fat cap up and I scored it. Think I like it that way best


        I think I’d vote for either trimming it close like I usually do or scoring it.

        or remove it, render and mix in when pulling.


          Usually I remove it, therefore, I'd favor scoring if you are going to leave it on. However, full-disclosure, I don't have a PBC and use a pellet grill.


            Fat cap down in my pellet grill. So no need for me to score. But I have seen that done on youtube and cooked fat cap up.
            The scoring was said to help render the fat. Either way, it pairs well with PBR.


              There’s usually a thin layer of meat between the layers of fat that will crisp up nicely. Malcoms video intrigued me enough to try it and those little bits were crazy good. I cooked mine on a Weber kettle and did a nice apple glaze at the end!! Will definitely do it more often now.


                Maybe it depends on the smoker or the person. I have had good luck without scoring, and cap up or down I never cared,
                and with Bud or Bourbon. Never worried about me or the butt drying out.


                  Urk, life got away from me. (Forgot first week of classes is this week! Eeek! Students all descending on my network with new phones...HALP!)

                  Sadly, my 8 lb pork butt (Smithfield) had little cap. I scored it anyway. I'll report back.


                  • Jerod Broussard
                    Jerod Broussard commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Most of my Smithies have a thin cap, especially on one end. I still score since the surface left after trimming gives more of a pseudo bark. The butts from the local grocer around the corner have enough fat to make bacon so I increase the line count.

                  All in all, I think the scoring helped, at least a little. It did get some more of the rub in there.


                    My butts never have a very thick fat cap, and it renders while it cooks - I tend to keep it towards the heat (up on the kettle since higher is hotter). It mostly renders and gets pulled with the meat.



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