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First butt semi-fail. 22 hr for 7lb butt. Feedback would be appreciated

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    First butt semi-fail. 22 hr for 7lb butt. Feedback would be appreciated

    Well this was frustrating...Have started trying low and slow cooking on a large BGE. ribs seemed fine so tried pork butt for the first time entirely in the egg (vs. finishing in oven after initial smoke).
    quick summary: stable-ish pit temp, double stall which led to a 22 hour cook (after raising the temp at the end). Drier meat than I hoped.

    Setup: large BGE, with deflector. fireboard fan originally set at 225. 6.7# pork butt. Recipe per MH. did not foil/wrap. did not rest.

    detailed timeline:
    12:00am lit egg
    1:30am happy that temp seems stabilized around 225 for an hour. attach fan and put the pork in
    8:00am get alarm re: drop in pit temp. opened egg, saw plenty of charcoal, everything else looked fine. closed lid and problem seemed to resolve itself (guessing maybe fire choked out and initial gust of air + fan helped restart)
    First stall hits from ~6am-9am. no worries, i know what to expect.
    this is where things start to get weird
    5pm (~15 hours into the cook) pork seems enter second stall @ 185, temp actually starts dropping
    5:40pm - food probe temp confirmed by manual temping. increase target temp to 235-240
    7:00pm: meat still at 185, i tear off a small piece and it seems ready though the texture was a bit grainy. was wondering if maybe it needed to cook further. temperature seems to break stall and start increasing
    1030pm: check on charcoal. noticed a lot of ash, raked it through then increased pit temp to 250.
    11:50pm: butt pulled @ 203.

    Bone came out easily. the meat was shreddable. it seemed slightly dry and had a tacky texture. the bark was beef jerky like in texture (not sure if this is what it is supposed to be). Sauce definitely helped though i would think good pulled pork shouldn't be this reliant on sauce.

    What i think i learned (please chime in if you disagree):
    Obviously a large part of me wants to blame the meat (HA) but in an attempt to try to take something away some learnings from this:
    I believe any dryness / grainy texture was from cooking the meat too long
    I wonder if 225 is too low a temperature (or certainly i should have been quicker to increase the temp once the meat entered the second stall). Even pre-cook i was surprised that you could target a tight 20 degree differential between pit temp and food temp in a reasonable timeframe
    I should have been more willing to increase the temperatures to 250-275 when it hit the second stall.
    I should have tested for doneness (bone wiggle) 15 hours even despite the 185 food temp.

    Would appreciate any other insights. Thanks!


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    Zoomed in graph below. note pit temp on left axis, food temp on right axis
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    #2
    We have all been there. I personally like to cook butts around 275, and don’t even mind some short periods up into the lower 300’s. I experience less stall issues and it can save quite a bit of time. However, you do sometimes get ‘that’ piece of meat which just fights you. This past week I did 2 almost identical butts,even down to the weight, yet one took almost 2 hours more to get where I wanted it.

    Comment


      #3
      As Donw said, we have all been there. It sounds like you wanted to reach 203°. That's not necessary. When the cook stretches out timewise, start probing for tenderness when it's somewhere around 190° The probe should go in with almost no resistance - like a knife in soft butter.

      Comment


      • Smoldering Flea
        Smoldering Flea commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks. Though I suspect this was over cooked before it even hit 190 based on the sample I tried 16 hours into the cook at 185

      #4
      I routinely cook10# Boston Butts on a Big Green Egg which typically take 12-14 hours unwrapped at 225. I cooked one Friday night which was midway through the stall after 12 hours, so I wrapped and it pushed through to 200 internal in three more hours. Keep in mind that the weight of the meat doesn’t determine cook time but thickness of meat does. I once cooked 40# with the Butts on two levels which took 22 hours on one load of charcoal. I think you just had a stubborn Butt.

      Comment


        #5
        Like said above, crank up the pit temp. 225* is just a guideline. Big hunks of meat can handle higher temps. Don't forget to let it rest some if you can.

        Comment


          #6
          Everyone's advice above is good. Do NOT give up. As noted, we have all messed up more than a few cooks. It is disappointing when it is a big chunk of meat. I like to either - inject, wrap or cut the butt into smaller pieces and put them into a dutch oven after about 6-8 hours. All three of those will increase the moisture and will keep that nice bark from getting too crisp to eat. We have a big thread dedicated to fails. It is really fun:

          https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...aps-and-oopses

          Comment


            #7
            I cook on a Kamado Joe. I've learned to get the bark and reasonable cook times I have to go higher that 225. Briskets are done at 300 degrees F, pork butt at 275, and ribs at around 250. I also finally learned not to worry about exact temp control, close is just fine. As noted above the post cook rest can be one of the most important steps in getting great results. Please don't get discouraged, we've all endured a learning curve that at times was incredibly frustrating.

            Comment


              #8
              1. Cut your butts half, or even smaller.
              2. Cook at 250-275
              3. Wrap once the bark is set - around 170-180° internal.
              4. Rest the meat in a cooler/faux Cambro for an hour or more. The connective tissue will continue to render/gelatinize giving the meat a moister mouth feel.
              4. Add the captured juices from the foil back into the meat after pulling it.

              I personally prefer to pull my pork butts below 200° (195-198°). They are still perfectly pullable and I think noticeably moister.
              Last edited by Dewesq55; October 11, 2020, 11:22 AM.

              Comment


              • BFlynn
                BFlynn commented
                Editing a comment
                What he said!!!

                I cut my butts to 3ish lb sections. Smoke at 250-270.
                Sometimes I wrap in paper when the bark is set. Sometimes I don't.

                Definitely rest in a cooler!

              #9
              First butt I did in my BGE, I had the same thing happen. Next time do it at 250 or even 275, anywhere in there is fine. It should then blow right through the stall in about an hour, total time should be maybe 8 hours.

              Comment


                #10
                Originally posted by Dewesq55 View Post
                1. Cut your butts half, or even smaller.
                2. Cook at 250-275
                3. Wrap once the bark is set - around 170-180° internal.
                4. Rest the meat in a cooler/faux Cambro for an hour or more. The connective tissue will continue to render/gelatinize giving the meat a moister mouth feel.
                4. Add the captured juices from the foil back into the meat after pulling it.

                I personally prefer to pull my pork butts below 200° (195-198°). They are still perfectly pullable and I think noticeably moister.
                This X2. I actually do mine at 275-300...butts are extremely forgiving temp-wise in my experience.

                Comment


                  #11
                  Originally posted by Oak Smoke View Post
                  I cook on a Kamado Joe. I've learned to get the bark and reasonable cook times I have to go higher that 225. Briskets are done at 300 degrees F, pork butt at 275, and ribs at around 250. I also finally learned not to worry about exact temp control, close is just fine. As noted above the post cook rest can be one of the most important steps in getting great results. Please don't get discouraged, we've all endured a learning curve that at times was incredibly frustrating.
                  Do you get the sense that Kamado cookers require different temps/practices (maybe because of higher moisture retention)?in market for another grill/smoker and wondering if need to approach differently.

                  Comment


                  • Oak Smoke
                    Oak Smoke commented
                    Editing a comment
                    They absolutely do require different temps/practices. If I cook a brisket at 225 I get a very moist, barkless, chunk of beef. My first brisket on a Kamado hit 203 and I expected to see this beautiful black meteorite when I opened the cooker. What I got was a wet shiny drown thing. That was a challenge to save. In my experience Kamados need higher temps to offset the very low air flow.

                  #12
                  I cook pork butts around 275, like you see above. I don’t cut the butt in half. I don’t wrap. They generally take about 10 hours at that temp, in my experience. I cooked a pork butt at 325 once. Got done in 7 hours. Was great.

                  I think cooking it too long is the major issue, in my opinion. Pork butt shouldn’t cook for 14-18 hours, in my opinion.

                  Comment


                    #13
                    Originally posted by LA Pork Butt View Post
                    I think you just had a stubborn Butt.
                    i am what i eat...ate?
                    if i may ask, any reason you prefer the wrapping route vs. increasing the temp? Am guessing its because of multiple butts on the grill.?


                    Comment


                    • Dewesq55
                      Dewesq55 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Do both. Wrapping retains moisture and speeds up the cooking time appreciably.
                      Last edited by Dewesq55; October 11, 2020, 12:16 PM.

                    • LA Pork Butt
                      LA Pork Butt commented
                      Editing a comment
                      DrGiggles I sometimes raise the temperature, but when I am looking to push through the stall I wrap because I think it cuts down on the cooling effect of the evaporation process and in the closed system of wrapping it cuts the stall down faster than increasing the temp.

                    #14
                    As others have said, cook at 275. I actually dislike that Meathead is so obsessed with 225 as I think it gives the impression to those new to smoking that there's something magical about that temp.

                    Also, as I posted a few months ago, I think pulled pork on its own (without sauce) is one of the more boring things that we can smoke. The smoke flavor doesn't penetrate much and on larger (thicker) butts, you are essentially roasting a pork butt.

                    The way around this, which also helps with cook time, is to cut it in half horizontally so it's half as thick (not vertically so you have 2 thick chunks, though that helps too). You get more bark, more area exposed to smoke and so, when you pull it, you get more for your time and effort over having simply roasted it.
                    Last edited by rickgregory; October 11, 2020, 01:25 PM.

                    Comment


                      #15
                      thanks everyone. it sounds like i'll have to relax my fanatical insistence in following recipes to a T for outdoor cooking. thankfully a bit of add'l sauce overnight helped with some of the dryness (and disappointment!)

                      Comment


                      • rickgregory
                        rickgregory commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Do make sure the pork butt you cook has enough fat, too. The fat is what keeps it from drying out and while butts are usually reliably fatty, some can be overtrimmed and/or not have a lot of intramuscular fat. This will be very hard to smoke low and slow without dryness.

                      • ecowper
                        ecowper commented
                        Editing a comment
                        My two cents worth ..... if you have never cooked a particular thing before, follow the recipe for it to a T. After that, start treating as the beginning, not the end. It's the canvas that you are going to create your art upon. Let it inspire you to create a great food. This applies whether in the traditional modern kitchen or cooking over live fire in the great outdoors.

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