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Behold My Butt! (2007– )

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[HOST'S NOTE: The original discussion, "Behold my butt!"  became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up. The first part of the discussion is here: Behold My Butt! (2003–2006)]

 

I recently smoked my first Boston Butt: 2 hours in a smoker followed by 12 hours in the oven- and have a couple of questions, even after reading through the "smoking" threads here. (A full write-up on the smoking session, along with a couple unanswered questions reposted here, can be found at: http://blogs.sun.com/rama/entry/bbq_smoked_pulled_pork )

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- Would a BBQ-only session produce significantly different flavor (than the 2 hour smoke, finish in the oven technique)-- it seems after the first few hours of smoking, the meat would form an impermeable protein layer and render additional smoking moot, and only the dry heat comes into play? (Surely this isn't the case, or people would just do a short intense smoking on the 'que and finish in the oven like I did-- but I haven't seen any scientific reasoning to dismiss such as approach.) EDIT: since writing this, I've read here that the chemical reactions responsible for the "smoke ring" stop above 140F, but what I'm really curious about is the flavor, especially given the low surface to mass ratio of a boston butt.

- Would cutting the pork butt in half to increase surface area as well as shorten cook times have any adverse affect, such as moisture content? Cooking it whole until it reached an internal temp of 190F was *plenty* moist, so I'm not too concerned about dry meat. If anything, next time, I'll remove any visible fat prior to applying the dry rub. (I lost a lot of tasty "bark" this time when I removed a slab of external fat post cook.)

The lazy cook in me wants to butterfly the butt, smoke for 2 hours and finish in the oven- probably close to 6 hours. Considering I finish the pulled pork with a sauce prior to serving, would this be a disservice?

I'd appreciate any thoughts...

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A couple of questions:

Can you further describe (or show us a photo, even better) of your smoker)?

Was your butt bone in and skin on?

Did you put the thing on as cold as possible?

What temps were you running in the smoker?

Why chips and not chunks of wood? I find that things in most smokers (except one of the box type) work better with chunks that are well soaked.

And, I have never considered butterflying a butt (I only do skin on, bone in) because I'm afraid that all of that luscious fat and collegen would just go into the drip pan...

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A couple of questions:

1. Can you further describe (or show us a photo, even better) of your smoker)?

2. Was your butt bone in and skin on? 

3. Did you put the thing on as cold as possible? 

4. What temps were you running in the smoker?

5. Why chips and not chunks of wood?  I find that things in most smokers (except one of the box type) work better with chunks that are well soaked.

And, I have never considered butterflying a butt (I only do skin on, bone in) because I'm afraid that all of that luscious fat and collegen would just go into the drip pan...

1. here's my current setup. the internals consist of an electric hotplate with a castiron skillet, which can be seen here: http://blogs.sun.com/rama/entry/weekend_of_meat%2C_redux

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2. this particular butt didn't have a bone- and I've never seen one with "skin" before.

3. i think its plenty cold-- if you read the description, I confess I had to finish in the oven because I struggled to maintain 225F in the smoker.

4. It wasn't too consistent, but the temps fluctuated between 180-230F.

5. chips instead of chunks because of the electric hotplate. I don't think there would be enough contact between the skillet and chunks to get them to smolder.

I'm not sure where you're going with that series of questions though-- would my smoker setup or meat choices really have any affect on choosing to finish in the oven or butterflying the meat?

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I've never been able to finish a smoked butt on my make-shift smoker either. I really like the smell of the house as I finish it in the oven.

A couple of questions:

3. Did you put the thing on as cold as possible? 

3. i think its plenty cold-- if you read the description, I confess I had to finish in the oven because I struggled to maintain 225F in the smoker.

I'm not sure where you're going with that series of questions though-- would my smoker setup or meat choices really have any affect on choosing to finish in the oven or butterflying the meat?

I think Snowangel was referring to the butt temperature and not the ambient one.

I think you've answered your other questions in your own blog. :smile:

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I think you've answered your other questions in your own blog. :smile:

Well finishing in the oven certainly produced a tasty product-- but I'm curious if/how it'd be different if it stayed in the smoker the entire time.

Also, I haven't tried cutting the butt to increase surface area (yet).

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In my experience, the longer the meat is on the smoker, the smokier it will taste -- right up to that 140 F parameter, which seems about right to me. I've occasionally finished product (or kept it warm) in the oven for an hour or so but have almost never used the oven for more than about 20% of the total cooking time. And yes, I too love the way that doing that makes the house smell. :smile:

I think the additional smoke time makes a big difference and I prefer product cooked that way but we're talking about opinions here, so if you like what you're doing, keep on right doing it. OTOH, experimentation is hardly ever a waste of time. The more experience you gain, the more variables you'll be able to handle and the more (unanticipated) problems you'll likely be able to solve. I suggest that you give longer smoking shot next time around and see how you like the finished product.

But yeah, butt smoked for 8-10 hours tastes a lot smokier than butt smoked for 1-2.

=R=

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My hubby just made me go through all 15 pages so he could moan and drool over the butt pictures. Hubby now longs for his smoker that he left in Ky.

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The smoker has been tucked away in the garage since it was used for Thanksgiving. I hear the call of smoked butt. I have lots of wood and charcoal. Smoked pork goes great with playoff football. [Go Eagles] I think this weekend it will have to sneak back out of the garage onto the patio.

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But yeah, butt smoked for 8-10 hours tastes a lot smokier than butt smoked for 1-2.

=R=

I'd have to agree with Ron here. Plus, it's just so much more fun to smoke the meat and drink the beer than let it sit in the oven!

Mike, I too am feeling the call of a butt in the very near future. My freezer is in serious need of some leftover "pantry gold." And my local market always has skin on, bone in butts, and the guy knows to look for the biggest, fattiest one for me!

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But yeah, butt smoked for 8-10 hours tastes a lot smokier than butt smoked for 1-2.

=R=

And my local market always has skin on, bone in butts, and the guy knows to look for the biggest, fattiest one for me!

Do you shred and eat the skin and fat afterwards? If not, it'd seem you'd be stripping a lot of the smoke flavor and "bark" by leaving the stuff on pre-smoke.

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As stated above I felt the call of the smoke. So, today I brought it out of the garage

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A chimney of new Kingsford

When I told Maggie I was going to smoke some pork butt, she replied that would be nice but you know, I really like smoked turkey. Well, we have not stayed married this long because I'm stupid. That resulted in this:

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Todays contestants. A bone in turkey breast and a 4 lb bone in butt. The guy at the meat counter cut a butt in half for me. I'm sure that my fellow smokers will attest that half a butt is better than no butt

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The breast on top and the butt on the bottom. The turkey was brined, but the pork was not

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Yes, those are raindrops. I don't think I can smoke without some rain. This year I am going to take the smoker to areas suffering drought. I think I can bring rain. The weird warm winter continues here. It was warm and dreary, with no wind

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The turkey came off first at 165 internal. Looks good smells good.

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The butt. It came off at 201 internal and was perfectly done. Of some note,when the turkey hit 165 the pork was the same and just going to the stall.

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The pork pulled. The pork and the turkey were both great. Maggie had the turkey, I had the pork.

Not a result of todays smoking but here are a couple of other happy eaters.

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If you have those smokers tucked away for the winter drag them out and fire them up. A nice relaxing smoke day today for me to help forget last nights loss by the Eagles

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Mike, the snow is finally about to hit here, but I have one more large butt in the freezer and possibly it could make its way out to the smoker this week. the turkey breast especially looks great!

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Beautiful, Mike! I'm hankering for smoking some meat, but events have prevented it.

But only complaint is the 1/2 a butt. Do the whole thing, dude!

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Beautiful, Mike!  I'm hankering for smoking some meat, but events have prevented it.

But only complaint is the 1/2 a butt.  Do the whole thing, dude!

Alas, I fear I should have taken your advice. This morning I discovered why I like to smoke. I was packing my lunch for work and opended the container of smoked butt to get some for that packed lunch. The wonderful smoky smell that greeted me made me happy. Even thought I'll be at work, it will be a nice lunch today

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Unconscionably, I have failed to smoke another butt since that original one back in, what, June? I have a litany of excuses, but no more. There sits in my fridge a lovely butt, and I just checked the state of the Weber (excellent) and the Kingsford (seems dry). I have to wake up early and stay home all day because of work tomorrow, anyway, so it's butt-smokin' time!

I can't remember if I brined last time or not, but I know I didn't use a rub. It's cold enough outside that I can throw the butt out on the balcony to brine. Any last-minute opinions on brining and/or rubs?

I can hardly wait for Sunday's chile verde with leftover pulled pork.... Let's just hope I can get the grill up to temp and keep it there.

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The unbrined, unrubbed butt is about to go on. Just waiting for the kettle to settle into a good temperature. It's 11 degrees F outside, not too windy, should be good conditions for a nice smoke. Zack's never participated before, so this should be fun! I'm making him take pictures.

OK, while I was writing this, the kettle was up around 250. I closed the top vents most of the way and it dropped to around 220, but of course while I had the lid open it dropped well below 200, so I goosed the vents open a bit again. Going to check on it momentarily, as I need to add more hickory chips anyway.

Here's the beginning:

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And just for good measure, cold, sleepy me at the beginning of the process. Alas, no beer-drinking while smoking, as I am working, too.

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I just cannot seem to get the grill temperature up above 200F. Time to chimney start some more charcoal and throw it on, I think.

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I've had an extreme hankerin for pulled pork for at least the past month.

Butt :biggrin: as you can see below, not the time for an outdoor cook.

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Best of luck today. Will you be serving the butt with any type of sauce? If so what are you using?

woodburner

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You can still smoke at 200, since you want the finished temp of the meat to be 190. It'll take all day, but then, you have all day, right?

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Sure 'nuff. We have no designs on going anywhere. After work, I've got plenty of housecleaning and laundry that needs doing.

I just lit a quarter chimney worth of coals and threw those on, though, to try to get it up to 200 again - it had fallen below that. Two and a half hours in, or thereabouts:

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It's in the stall now. Has been for a good hour or so. This is only a 3.5 pounder (fundage low, only two folks to feed), so I'm kind of hoping it will be done in time for me to go grocery shopping before midnight. If not, I'll just have to brave the Sunday crowds.

Sauce will be either a vinegar-based or mustard-based sauce, not really sure which yet. Sometimes I just go with a little straight Texas Pete, if I'm feeling lazy. To be served with coleslaw and baked beans (from a can - still never tried making those myself, probably should've done, on reflection). Leftovers for every other imaginable purpose.

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So I had a heck of a time keeping the grill at temperature. I think I was just klutzing it up on Saturday. By the time we were ready for bed at midnight, it was still just holding at 170F because the temp had dropped below 200F many, many times. I think I just hadn't accounted enough fuel for the cold external temperature. I got the grill temp back up to 230F and then left it when I went to bed. I got up in the morning and the butt looked nice, internal temp was around 30F so I figured it was probably safe and not going to kill me. I refrigerated it and I have it in the oven right now at 225F to try to finish it off.

I don't know if it will work or not. I hope so. I'll let you all know.

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The oven finish seemed to work OK. The pork is not as tender and unctuous as I would have liked, but it definitely has good flavor, so I think it will find its way into burritos and the like rather than standing on its own. It's been FoodSavered and frozen.

Thanks for following along on another Butt Adventure! I'll probably be doing another before the move to Michigan in May.

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The oven finish seemed to work OK.  The pork is not as tender and unctuous as I would have liked, but it definitely has good flavor, so I think it will find its way into burritos and the like rather than standing on its own.  It's been FoodSavered and frozen.

Thanks for following along on another Butt Adventure!  I'll probably be doing another before the move to Michigan in May.

Another great idea is posole! My family loves it, and it is a great use for the leftovers.

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