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Pork Butt and Texas Brisket (Limited?) Success

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    Pork Butt and Texas Brisket (Limited?) Success

    Hello All,

    Bottom Line Up Front: I smoked a pork butt and brisket on separate weekends using the recipes from this site that turned out very tasty, but took much longer to cook than I anticipated based on the thickness of the meat.

    (Unfortunately, I did not think ahead enough to take pictures along the way.)

    Equipment I used: Medium BGE, plate setter (for indirect heat), Auber instrument temperature controller, local store's "generic" hardwood lump charcoal, Thermoworks DOT and Thermopop. I also used an aluminum pan and filled it with boiling water before I put the meat in the smoker.

    I followed Meathead's rub recipes (Memphis dust and BBBR) to the best of my ability. I dry brined both meats for at least 18 hours each.

    Pork Butt bought from my local grocery store. ~4.5 lbs. (my objective was to gain confidence with smoking and to test out the Auber, which I just bought)
    - I started the cook at 9:30AM and did not start taking meat temp until 11:30AM. I did not use the BBQ log, so I did not know to get the outside temperature. I used a plate setter and a water pan I filled with boiling water at the beginning of the cook to prevent dripping on the plate setter and help with moisture). I smoked the meat at 225 degrees F.
    (Time - Cooker Temp - Meat Temp)
    11:30 AM - 227*
    12:30 PM - 226*
    1:44 PM - 226* - 155
    3:21 PM - 224* - 159*
    4:05 PM - 223* - 160*
    5:39 PM - 236* - 165*
    6:57 PM - 223* - 171*
    7:36 PM - 226* - 169* (At this point I used the Thermopop to double check the DOT temperature)
    8:09 PM - 245* - 171* (adjusted the vents to help control the temperature)
    8:46 PM - 235* - 174*
    9:30 PM - 237* - 175*
    11:03 PM - 226* - 179*
    12:20 AM - 226* - 181
    Since this was my test case I decided to pull it from the smoker at 181*. It was well under the recommended 203*, but I was tired at this point and wanted to go to sleep. I did not want to have to wake up with the DOT alarm or to wake my neighbors up. The meat was still very good. I did not pull it. Instead I chopped it with a knife. My kids and my wife still found it tasty the following day.

    Brisket bought from a local butcher. Wagyu beef, ~5 lbs., point. I was confident enough with how the BGE and Auber worked that I was willing to smoke the meat overnight. I used a water pan again and cooked it at 225*.
    (Time - Cooker Temp - Meat Temp - Outside Temp)
    8:30 PM - 225* - 63* - 64*
    9:34 PM - 224* - 129* - 62*
    10:30 PM - 219* - 147* - 62*
    11:22 PM - 224* - 155* - 62*
    5:55 AM - 225* - 166* - 62*
    9:15 AM - 226* - 172* - 64*
    10:50 AM - 225* - 175* - 66*
    1:16 PM - 225* - 186* - 69*
    3:37 PM - 226* - 196* - 70* (drizzling outside)
    4:20 PM - 231* - 199* - 70* (We had to celebrate my daughter's B-day at a restaurant, pre-planned so we weren't expecting to eat the brisket. I placed the brisket in a faux cambro)
    8:30 - N/A - 171* - N/A - I sliced the brisket and it was delicious and juicy. I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of it. It lasted a couple of days and I heated it in the microwave by covering it with a damp paper towel. Not as good as eating it off the smoker, but it was still very good. My kids, especially my 8-year old son, kept asking for more and want me to cook it again soon.

    My questions:
    - What did I do wrong that it took so long to cook? Everything I've read on this site said that it should be around 12-14 hours. The pork butt took almost 15 hours and it still wasn't at the recommended temperature. The brisket took almost 20 hours.

    I need to continue to adjust my cooking times if/when I have to serve to people. Placing it in a towel inside a cooler worked out great.

    Thanks for any advice or critiques you may have for me.

    I don't use a BGE, I use a COS, but even with that said, those numbers look so far off that I have to think something is lying to you. I have never had cooks for such small pieces go so long under any conditions. My immediate thought would be that you are not getting an accurate temp for the cook chamber.

    Just for grins and giggles, I would try that same size pork butt again but run it up at 275 or even 300 using the exact same setup and see what happens to your times.

    Edit: Thinking about this a bit more, what are you using to measure the cook chamber temperature with? As I said before, I don't have a BGE, but if you are relying upon a lid mounted thermometer I would bet it is lying to you. The single most important thing I have ever learned is that you have to reliably know what both the meat AND the cook temperatures are if you want good BBQ.

    Edit 2: Just went back and picked up on the Auber. At this point the only thing I can think of would be possibly a faulty probe or it is not located at the correct position to give a true reading of the cook chamber and you are running much lower than you think you are.
    Last edited by boftx; October 26, 2015, 10:48 AM.


      I see several places saying 1.5-2 hours per pound but that has never worked in my experience. If a butt is 8" thick at its thickest point, it doesn't matter what it weighs or how many times you cut it, it will take the same amount of time whether it is 3 pounds or 100. I cook at 275 and I am always done in a 1 hour window around 10 hours, I can't imagine going less than 14 at 225, but maybe some folks who cook at that temp can tell you. I have 2 friends with Rec Tecs who both did their first butts at 225, one took 16 hours the other took 18.


        Thanks for the replies. It might have been helpful for me to take pictures of the meat so you can get a better idea of what I had to work with. I will also take a picture of where I placed the probe next to the meat next time. I plan on doing that this weekend using your advice of raising the temp to 275*.

        The Auber was consistently showing 20-25* hotter than the dial thermometer on my BGE. That is consistent with the error that this site has told me to expect with the dial thermometer so I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the Auber was working as advertised. I might have to borrow a Maverick from someone to determine for sure.


          I have large BGE. I usually do 10# Boston Butts which typically take from 12-14 hours to get to 200 which it would seem you should have reached in our twelve hour cook. I especially think so since I have discovered that the smaller the Kamado the faster the food seems to cook (son-in-law has a Jo Jr.). Once you break through 180 you typically get to 200 in half the time it took you to go from 160 through 180. I usually put my Boston Butts on the night before figuring on a 14 hour + cook. When they reach 200 I wrap them and put them in a faux cambro until it is time to serve. They keep hot for me for hours. An alternative is to shut the egg down and leave the wrapped butt in the egg.
          You can cut the 160-180 stall in half by wrapping at 160 and then unwrapping at 180. Check out the Nakedwhiz.com site cookbook on Elder Ward's placement of charcoal on his receip for pulled pork. I have also raised the temp to 300-350 late during the stall when I was running behind. I hope this helps. Boston Butts are prettying forgiving.


            njwso, I have never used a BGE, I have a COS that I modified, a stainless Brinkman Vertical Smoker, and two Webers one old and a new Performer Deluxe with the S 'n S that I am still learning! I have cooked many Butts over the years and Most Were Good in the End! Butt I think I am still working on Perfection? Keep working at it and keep a log, I Did Not! and I can assure you that my Memory Ain't What It Used To Be! 👍👌👍👌👍. Dan



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