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Behold My Butt! (2007– )

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Time to take it to the next level, Lisa, and go for an overnight smoke!

I considered it, but am glad I didn't this first time around because I would have worried too much about the temperature spiking or surging while I was asleep. Unless, of course, you mean that I should try staying awake all night while it smokes? :huh:

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As Arne's posts above indicate, beer has magical stimulant properties for overnight smoking. :wink:

Seriously, I get up a couple of times, check my Bradley, and go back to bed when I'm smoking butt. That way I'm guaranteed a great pull for dinner the next day. Beats the dinner-time anxiety caused by a prolonged stall -- which we've all experienced many times!

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As Arne's posts above indicate, beer has magical stimulant properties for overnight smoking. :wink:

Seriously, I get up a couple of times, check my Bradley, and go back to bed when I'm smoking butt. That way I'm guaranteed a great pull for dinner the next day. Beats the dinner-time anxiety caused by a prolonged stall -- which we've all experienced many times!

I do them overnight all of the time (on a large, old school Weber). It actually works pretty well, as long as I get up, maybe twice, and stumble out back to make sure that I'm cooking and not burning. I did a couple of picnic hams this way over the weekend and they turned out really well. As I type I am enjoying, alot, a deviled ham sandwich made with the above mentioned meat and it's pretty danged delicious.

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Chris, I've quit brining bone-in/skin-on butts. I'm not sure it added much. And, when I brine a boned, skinless butt, I'm more likely to give it a short brine, since smokin' is often spur of the moment!

Since June 1, I've smoked 60+ pounds of butt for several graduation parties for kids of friends. Now, given that the Trusty Old Kettle can only handle two butts at a time, I have spent many hours, used a lot of charcoal, and a lot of wood. (Oh! And, a lot of beer!) Pure joy to share pure bliss with so many!

BTW, ribs are smoking on the Trusty Old Kettle as we speak. The grand dame of many a smoking adventure turns 24 on August 2. Best damned birthday present I ever got.

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Susan and her kettle. A match made in smoking heaven. And to think some of us tried to get you to replace her the other year. What were we thinking?

I do not brine pork butt, save for once and that one, to me, was no improvment. Poultry for the smoker gets a salt water bath but not pork

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I've been reading this thread for months, and finally got up the nerve to get a butt and fire up the weber kettle. I got a 7.7 lb butt at the Harris-Teeter, and it went on naked except for a sprinkle of salt and pepper:

gallery_14297_6132_64129.jpg

I used the "Minion Method" to get the fire started (20 unlit/8 lit briquettes) plus some soaked hickory. I also had a drip pan under the butt that I filled with about a quart of water. Put it on about 9 am, and everything went swimmingly, except that I was kind of a nervous nellie about temperature control, and so probably opened the grill more times than I needed to to add coals and soaked wood (about every 2 hours or so to keep the temp around 240-250).

Note the instruments in the setup, one thermometer for the kettle and one for the butt. I am a science geek after all (and yes I do have a graph of butt temp vs. time if anyone would like to see! :raz: )

gallery_14297_6132_109366.jpg

after 2 hours:gallery_14297_6132_17660.jpg

after 5 hours:gallery_14297_6132_52511.jpg

The temp of the butt increased steadily until about 4:30 pm, when it stalled and took from 4:30 to 8:00 to go from 165 to 172. Going into the stall after about 7.5 hours:

gallery_14297_6132_123857.jpg

In the interest of feeding people that night (I had only invited a few understanding folks for my "experimental butt") we pulled it off the grill and wrapped it in foil while we waited for the water to boil for corn. Calling it done at 11 hours (172 degrees):

gallery_14297_6132_67892.jpg

It wasn't falling off the bone, but it didn't struggle too much as I pulled it. Everyone gathered 'round the pull and much was devoured sans sauce, and more when we put out a bowl of North Carolina Eastern Style red pepper/vinegar/salt as a dip. There are not pics of this as everyone's hands were covered with grease! :biggrin:

Next time I'll start earlier and try not to open the grill as often, smoke two butts and invite more folks! Any tips on keeping the temp regulated on an old Weber with two of the bottom vents rusted in the "open" position? Also, how much smoke should I see escaping the Weber?

Thanks to everyone for all the great information in this thread!

Thanks,

Anne

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Nice butt, Anne! I'm too nervous to try to serve BBQ the same day I smoke it; a day ahead means I can take as long as it needs.

Also, how much smoke should I see escaping the Weber?

I don't have any experience with smoking on the Weber, but my feeling is that there should always be at least a little smoke escaping: that means you're smoking, not slow-cooking. Of course, I'll sometimes just smoke something for six hours or so, then finish it in the oven: that's what I did last weekend, once it hit 11 PM or so, and I didn't want to keep going outside. It turned out fine, and let me relax a little more.

A question for the buttheads in this thread: any recommendations about smoking a picnic shoulder? I'm doing some more BBQ later this week, and like the idea of getting a little skin into the mix...

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At last, I can claim a corner of this Hallowed Topic! :smile:

Some chums from Vermont rented a cottage on Maine's Midcoast where we planned to join them for a long weekend. When I called ahead of our departure from Portland, my friend said that I would "probably be interested to know that there was a kick-ass looking, outdoor cooker/smoker thingie on the deck here,"

Having studied this topic on and off for a few years, my plans for the weekend suddenly focused on finding a 6 to 8 pound, bone-in, pork butt to serve on Saturday, either smoked or just slow-cooked in a reasonably proper manner.

Hell, I haven't done this before, but I have learned the virtues of slow-cooking certain cuts of meat from eGullet with excellent results. This weekend could be a real coup. After three places came up empty, I found one 7.5 pound butt for $1.99/lb

I met the owner of Denny-Mike's BBQ supply a couple weeks ago, who gave me a measure of his signature rub as a gesture of appreciation for covering last year's Great State of Maine BBQ Championship here on eGullet.

Wrapped and ready to sit in the fridge overnight.

gallery_16643_1028_44074.jpg

We set out Friday to join our friends.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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When we arrived, I went around back to find this lovely sight,

gallery_16643_1028_35660.jpg

That's right! The famous The Big Green Egg. How could I go wrong this weekend?? :hmmm:

Well, I'll get to that!

So we fixed some drinks, and lit an arm-load of Hardwood charcoal.

gallery_16643_1028_10930.jpg

While the coals transformed into something to cook our dinner on,

I found some applewood chips and started soaking them.

gallery_16643_1028_7134.jpg

I started to worry about the amount of charcoal I would initially need to get enough of a cooking venue for our dinner, yet still have enough staying power for an overnight smoke. I think I also grossly underestimated how many applewood chips I would need, as well as my motivation to stumble downstairs at three o'clock Saturday morning to replenish them, and maybe a handful of coals, without waking a 1 and 4 year-old.

I realized much more research was needed, but we had no internet on this little island to consult eGullet so I just went with my gut.

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gallery_16643_1028_15312.jpg

We had a sumptuous dinner of marinated beef tips, fresh corn and other garden goodies, but at 10 o'clock the heat was still up there at about 300°F - too hot to start the butt? Probably - I honestly didn't know - but suspected that the Big Green Egg's heat-retention feature might turn this butt into a cinder by daybreak if I wasn't careful.

So we opened the Big Green Lid and waited an hour, hoping to dissipate a little heat. At 11 o'clock we'd lost 25°F, so getting tired and a little drunk, we slapped that butt on the grill, closed her up (I left a little tiny opening up top and at the base) and hoped for the best.

The next morning, at about 7 o'clock, the thermometer read 150°F and it looked like this,

gallery_16643_1028_37955.jpg

Well, okay! I'm cool with this!

gallery_16643_1028_51730.jpg

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"I can't believe it's not ready!" someone said as we sipped coffee in the island fog.

"You think I was kidding when I said 12 hours?" Although I suspected a little longer now that the heat rate was all over the place and was about to get worse.

In a swirl of hangover mis-judgement, I threw a layer of fresh coals on to raise the temp to 200°F or thereabouts. If we can get another four hours out here, we can eat.

Unfortunately, the temperature went down - practiaclly out - so I took the butt off the grill and tried to get the coals going with Big Green Egg light chips. Sure enough, it went up to about 350° in a half hour... :angry:

So in to the oven it went (at 190°F) and there it sat while we went in search of ocean and sand. I noticed on our departure, the Big Green Pain In The Ass stood at about 250°F but it took an hour in a beach chair to realize I could have stuck the butt back into it with slight apertures top and bottom for the final couple hours. Oh well! :biggrin:

Finally, out it came at about three o'clock. I let it rest about twenty minutes and started to pull.

gallery_16643_1028_30531.jpg

Yummy goodness!

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gallery_16643_1028_17318.jpg

I have to say, I am damned proud of this butt!

gallery_16643_1028_1310.jpg

We served it with cornbread, local slaw and pickles (three kinds), more corn and a bunch of beer. Yeah!

Can't wait to do it again, but I doubt I'll have the luxury of the Big Green Egg. Still, I've learned a lot this weekend.

:smile:

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Congratulations, johnnyd! That's a nice-looking butt you've got there. I don't have any experience with the egg, but given how good it is at retaining heat, maybe you'd have been better off with briquettes? They burn longer, and not as hot, which might have kept the temperature down. Still, you were clearly successful; yum!

I have to say that I'm impressed by those of you who smoke overnight. I tried it a couple of weeks ago (started a brisket at 4 PM and finished at around 4 AM), and it was just horrid. Granted, a Green Egg probably takes less tending than my Char-Griller, but I find I'm much better off starting at 7 AM and finishing in the evening.

Speaking of which, I smoked my largest butt ever (eight pounds boneless, tied) on Friday. It took thirteen hours, but I'm proud to say that I've overcome my problems with the Char-Griller's firebox choking itself: I can now maintain a fire indefinitely. (Though MAN if thirteen hours of smoking doesn't use a whole lot of charcoal!)

No pictures of the butt, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Good smoke flavor, though I might have left it on for just a little bit longer, to let it get even more falling apart. I served it at a party, and asked folks to take home leftovers... which left me with no leftovers for myself! Guess I'll have to block out a day to smoke another one...

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I've got a 3.5 lb bone-in on the grill right now... It's been there for going on 9 hours, and I've kept it right around 200* through 3 rain showers and heavy winds blowing off of Hurricane Edouard. I should have pictures later, barring any unforeseen technical difficulties. It's looking delicious, though. It's hard not to just grab it and eat it right now.

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It's hard not to just grab it and eat it right now.

Any accomplished butt smoker knows that sometimes a "piece just falls off."

Kudos to johnny for a job well done on an unknown smoker. Although I claim that the Trusty Old Kettle is a piece of cake, it is only so after many years of learning!

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Oh, a few pieces may have fallen off...

Pictures tomorrow, I believe. Turned out quite well, I'd say.

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Speaking of which, I smoked my largest butt ever (eight pounds boneless, tied) on Friday.  It took thirteen hours, but I'm proud to say that I've overcome my problems with the Char-Griller's firebox choking itself: I can now maintain a fire indefinitely.  (Though MAN if thirteen hours of smoking doesn't use a whole lot of charcoal!)

Do tell how you overcame that. The Butt I did yesterday came out OK but the last couple hours with the firebox choking itself were not pretty.


Edited by 6ppc (log)

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It's embarrassingly simple: I realized that the firebox has a removable tray for the coals. So every 2-3 hours, once the coals had burned down, I dumped out the ash into a metal bucket, and added a new tray of hot coals.

It worked great, but I was dumbfounded by how much charcoal I went through... I used an entire large (25 lbs?) bag of Kingsford to smoke that butt. Butt it was tasty, so I have no complaints!


Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)

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Alright. Picture, finally. Unfortunately, the camera was not charged until I began pulling it, so no setup pics.

Here is my butt:

gallery_52700_6150_62211.jpg

I'm warming it up to serve at a pulled pork party tonight, with a South Carolina mustard sauce, which is basically =mark's with a few changes. I'm also serving it with a watermelon pickle, watermelon salad, and potato salad.

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I roasted my two four-pound picnic shoulders low and slow for 6 hours but when it was time to go to bed, they were only at about 170. I had to turn off the oven (which was at 250) and prayed the residual heat would be enough, but when I checked it in the morning (it was lukewarm at that point) it was clear it never reached the 195 point... I can't shred it easily and it's a bit bouncy.

Can I put it back in the oven tonight and bring it to 195? Should I break it into chunks and braise it in its liquids? How can I save it?

Ths is important: it's for my friend's stag party tomorrow!

Thanks!

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Yes, you can put it in the oven to finish it--whole.

It is a myth that internal temp causes or means 'done' when it comes to barbecue. A specific internal might correlate with tender but it also might not.

If you wrap the pork in foil the finishing will be quicker but you'll lose some bark texture. If you don't, more time will be needed. In either case, the pork is done when the bone is loose (if it is bone-in), a probe enters effortlessly into the meat, and the meat begins to fall apart when you handle it. This can happen (especially if there is a secondary plateau) in the 180s. (I have many butts never reach 190 that are fall-apart tender.)


Edited by klkruger (log)

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You may actually have a completely different problem on your hands. Foods sitting at a temperature between 40 and 140 deg F should only be kept for 4 hours before being discarded. I'm guessing "lukewarm" is probably in that range (don't forget that it took a couple of hours for the shoulders to get to 140 in the first place).

Many will disagree (and that's their prerogative :smile:), and perhaps if I wasn't feeding anyone else, I might let it slide, too. But feeding a party of people food that might make them ill is something that I wouldn't do.

I'm curious though ... why did you turn off the oven? I've done pork butts overnight before and I tend to sleep (albeit lightly) in the easy chair next to the kitchen so I can periodically check in on it.

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Thanks to both of you!

tino, I just didn't want to leave a hot oven unattended, was tired and hoped the residual heat woul be enough...rookie mistake (ok fine, I was a bit drunk too).

Since I turned the oven off pretty late and refrigerated the butts pretty early, I'm almost confident they weren't in the danger zone for more than 4 hours. In any case, I think reheating it to past 165 kills the bacteria that may have spawned...

So I'll try just putting it back in the oven whole... thanks again!

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