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Pork shoulder (butts) fat side up or down in a pellet grill (smoker)?

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    Pork shoulder (butts) fat side up or down in a pellet grill (smoker)?

    I am going to slap a couple of pork shoulders (boneless) on my Louisiana Grills L900 tomorrow night for a low and slow cook.

    Curious as to the prevailing wisdom of having the fat side up or down.

    MG

    #2
    I score the fat cap and run it up.

    Comment


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      That way you get a nice sear and bark on that cap. That adds great flavor to the pull. Yup, that's a big 10-4.

    #3
    I use a charcoal Weber SMS and leave it fat side down. I recall reading on this site that the fat acts as a cushion or insulation between “the heat and the meat.”

    Comment


      #4
      Honestly don't think it matters. I've never had a dry pork butt.

      Comment


        #5
        If your pellet cooker is like most, with the fire pot below the grill i.e. heat comes from the bottom, then I would place the fat side down to help manage heat. Not sure if in the end it really matters that much with pork to be honest, since I’ve found pork shoulders to be very forgiving, but since most of the people I have been learning from commonly recommend, they place the fat cap or fat thicker layer of fat as a buffer when possible.

        I had ignored this recommendation, for not knowing at the time I started smoking meats, and I was happy with the results. After hearing and learning this tip, I haven’t bothered to see if it’s true or not.

        I just use the fat cap as a buffer between the heat source and what I am smoking. It makes sense to me, it works well for me, so I would suggest if you are looking for a logic initial approach, start with fat cap down if your heat comes from below the grill grate where you place your cut. For brisket, I think it’s more relevant to follow this suggested practice as compared to pork.

        Cheers,
        Ricardo

        Here is an old photo of a couple of pork shoulders. In the end, I discarded the fat, but not before using it as a pillow of sorts during the smoking.
        Hope this helps.
        Click image for larger version

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        Comment


          #6
          I generally run mine fat side down but only because I started out smoking cooking competitions and we always run fat down. Not sure if there's any definitive reason other than needing the bark to be solid on the top-side (non-fat). We do the same for briskets in comps but when I'm cooking brisket for the house or catering I cook fat side up as it seems to melt into the meat?.At the end of the day, do whatever you feel makes YOUR que taste the best!!! Happy smoking!

          Comment


            #7
            I will run the fat side towards the heat if I can.

            Comment


              #8
              I always point the fat cap toward the heat. My smoker is a vertical offset. Heat comes from the bottom, so my fat cap goes down.

              Comment


                #9
                Pork butts have so much internal fat that I always trim the fat cap off. I want my rub and bark on the meat.

                Comment


                  #10
                  Probably doesn't matter but you can place it with the fat cap facing the direction the heat is coming from if you want to have a reason for orienting a certain way.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    I trim the fat cap aggressively and am pretty sure it doesn't matter.

                    Your heat comes from the bottom, but hits the deflector plate, and convects all over the cooker. I don't think it matters. Never had a dry pork butt except from a sad pig.

                    Comment


                    • Troutman
                      Troutman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      This is probably he most correct answer. Heat deflects all over the cooking chamber in a pellet smoker, similar to a kamado with it's ceramic deflector. Really should not matter which direction the fat cap goes.

                    • Sweaty Paul
                      Sweaty Paul commented
                      Editing a comment
                      +1 to both. Or +1 squared. Whatever the math says.

                    #12
                    If I wake up and my wife is sleeping on her left side fat cap goes on the left, if she's sleeping on her right side fat cap goes to the right, if she's sleeping on her stomach fat cap down....
                    Last edited by smokin fool; July 4, 2020, 06:11 AM.

                    Comment


                    • smokin fool
                      smokin fool commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Steve R. Yeah, she's used to my crap now
                      Took that from an old golf joke
                      Apologies if this offends anyone, not everyone has my sense of humor
                      Mods please delete if you find this post offensive

                    • Troutman
                      Troutman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Well I just agreed with Potkettleblack above but now rescind my choice and now dub thee the most enlightened bbq cook in the Pit. Congratulations to you sir, you win today's prize (whatever that is?). Not bad for a Canuck !!

                    • wu7y
                      wu7y commented
                      Editing a comment
                      smokin fool I think you and I are much alike. I'm 76, 77 if you ask my insurance agent and I have just recently become able to, sometimes, keep my good sense in control of my sense of humor. Otherwise I'd have been kicked off this forum a long time ago. But now and then I am sorely tempted.

                    #13
                    Ok getting about done w/ the Pork Shoulder cook in my LG L900.

                    Stats: Put Shoulders on (total ~ 16 lb one somewhat smaller than other) fat side down about 9PM last night at 180 F, then turned up temp to 225 F at 11PM, went to bed and at 5AM had about 1/3 hopper left. Refilled hopper and went from there.

                    Put larger of butts on right and smaller on left.

                    Took of larger but at about 12:45PM today at 203F and moved the smaller butt from the left to the middle of grate. No crutch.

                    The one I took off and was falling apart when I moved it to tray for pulling. Nice bark and good smoke ring.

                    The smaller butt came off at 4:15 PM at 203 F. Also falling apart when moved to pulling bin.

                    Both taste really good. Food for the family and friends.

                    I guess the lesson w/ the Louisiana Grills L900 is one probably should swap roasts, butts, etc. right to left/left to right if you have any prayer of them getting them done at the same time. The left side cooking slower than the right has been a constant with the L900 so I guess it is up to the user to accommodate for this "feature".

                    Click image for larger version

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                    Note the two thermometers on either side of the water pan

                    Click image for larger version

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                    Decent bark

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                      #14
                      Gorgeous.

                      Comment

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