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First "pork" smoking (Pork Butt)

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    First "pork" smoking (Pork Butt)

    I got my rub made (Memphis Dust) and Pork Butt trimmed for tomorrow morning, picked up a small 5.5lbs pork butt from the store today. Not sure how good the cut is but this is a first for me and my smoker. It's all rubbed up and waiting in the fridge for 9am. Planning on cooking at 225F but I haven't picked out my wood yet, I have Apple, Cherry and Hickory on hand. Any input would be appreciated.

    P.S. I did cut under the fat cap and placed some rub.. hope it works out well.

    Picks of the cut:

    I prefer hickory wood but apple or cherry wood is also good


      Just to be clear, fat cap is on top when placed in the smoker. And don't foil at all, correct?


        My advice is trim all the fat cap off of a pork butt, and rub 360 degrees of the meat. The fat cap in pulled pork turns into wads of unappealing fat in the finished product, vs on a brisket which is sliced the fat cap is a thin fat strand on each slice which is flavorful and desired.


          Really?! I can still remove it in the morning. This won't dry out the meat? I won't be using water in the water pan.


            No fat cap = more bark. More bark = more flavor! Better all round. Trust me .. listen to Huskee Also he likes to cut them in half to get even more rub surface area and again more bark. I agree with that. Seems to give a shorter cook time too. Have fun!!


              Awsome!! I'll remove that in the morning, glad I put some rub under the cap. Since my goal is pulled pork do I need to foil or not? If I do, when is a good time? Also do I need to rotate or touch it at any point of the cook?


                It's all preference really, but if this is your first I'll just share what I would do (my preferences, not "the best" by any means). I would use water in the pan. It will help regulate your temp and give you more of a steady experience to complement your blower. But if you prefer not to it shouldn't kill your meat as long as you aim for 225-235. But at least leave the bowl in place as somewhat of a buffer, and line it with foil for easy cleanup.

                Wrapping, if you choose to do it, will shorten your cook time quite a bit. However, an unwrapped butt does tend to to taste a little better. Maybe not worlds better, but better. And if you like a chewy bark, not wrapping will definitely get you that. I would estimate at 225 a 5.5 lb butt would take probably 14-16 hrs to hit 195-200 unwrapped, and maybe 10 wrapped...but this is an estimate and you may find things different in your case. If you wrap, do it once you hit the stall, or even an hour or two into it. Then tightly wrap with a double layer of foil, either wrap tightly around the therm probe or poke it back in so the juices wont leak out the hole (upper side or top of butt). Once your meat hits 203 wrapped, let it hold in a faux cambro or 170deg oven (or smoker) for an hour or 3. If you go unwrapped, that extra cook time will take the place of the cambro hold and it should be pullable at 195.


                  I'm a little confused, I need to let the meat sit at 170 for three hours before we can eat it after hitting 203F?


                    You don't "need" to, but the cambro hold is what continues the softening of the meat's fats and collagens, and makes it that moist tender shreddable product we all picture with pulled pork. You can skip it, but you will have better results if you afford time to do it. If your pork butt takes 10, 12+ hrs to get to temp you'll likely be ok skipping it.

                    The reason we dont eat pork butt at 145F, when it's technically safe to eat it, is it will be tough and seem dry. We take it to 200 or so (203 is the popular magic number it seems) because not only does that higher temp render the fats and collagen in the meat into juicy deliciousness, giving it a juicier impression, but the time it takes to get it there aids in this as well. It's the temp and time working in unison that makes the pulled pork we all know and love.


                      Thank you for the help!! I'll skip the cambro hold for this round and enjoy at 203F. I figured it would have only taken 8.25 hours to cook this pork butt. Now I need to get up at 5am to enjoy this hopefully by 6pm.


                        There's always the chance you'll get a tough ol' hunk of meat and nothing you do will be that great, I've had that and I think most of us have- but typically speaking, the TLC spent will be worth it.

                        Meathead's Pulled Pork recipe explains in greater detail everything I've said. He recommends not wrapping, and since you have a controller on your WSM, you're in much better position to go for a longer unwrapped cook.


                          You're welcome! It may only take 8.25hrs, but likely longer from personal experience. Meat is a wad of flesh, and each can vary. The good thing about starting early, is if it's done earlier than you planned, you wrap it, hold it in an oven or in a cooler wrapped in towels also, until dinner. If you start at normal time and it takes 3 or 4 hrs longer than you planned, you have some angry starving people to answer to when it's 9pm and no one's eaten!


                            Here's a cook another member had today, a 3.25lb butt at 225F took 12hrs. Just for what it's worth.


                              Thank you so much for the help! I'll remove the fat cap and cook at 230F to help gently speed things up. That's crazy the guy took 12 hours to cook 3.25lbs!! Better sooner than later.



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