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First Timer - Boston Butts on the BGE

tommyseggtommysegg Posts: 4
edited January 2012 in Pork

Yesterday I used my new BGE to cook some Boston Butts for our New Years Eve party.  First of all, many thanks to all who have shared their expertise and experience on the BGE Forum.  This was a great help to a newbie like myself.

I'm happy to say that the butts turned out great.  I did two 7.5 - 8 lb butts (after trimming) for a group of 15 adults and 10 children.  We had < 1 lb left over.

I did encounter a couple things during the cook that I didn't pick up from all of the posts that I had read.  I'd thought I'd go ahead and post to see if these were just dumb rookie mistakes on my part that I can fix the next time.

Temperature control - I built the fire a la the technique of the Naked Whiz and Elmer.  My observation was that as the cook progressed, I would tend to lose temperature over a 2 - 4 hour period without touching either vent position.  Overall during the cook, I had to gradually open the  vents.  To hold a 250 target I started out at 1/4" bottom, 1/8" top.  This held for awhile, but the temp dropped to ~210 for a period during the night.  By the end of the cook I was @ 3/8" open for both to hold the same temp.  Is this a common experience?

Cook time - Based on all that I had read, I planned for 2 hrs/lb cook time, which worked out to 15 - 16 hrs.  I put the butts on @ 11:30 the night before, targeting a 7 PM dinner time on New Year's Eve (19.5 hrs).  At 3 PM, the butts were just reaching the 170 - 180 F plateau.  I knew this would take some time, so I started pushing the temperature beyond the 250 target, ending the cook during the last hour at ~330 F.  The butts hit the magic 195 F at ~ 5:45 PM.  I pulled them @ 6 PM (18.5 hrs) .  I just finished pulling the pork off the bone when the guests started arriving.  I used every bit of the 3 - 4 hr margin built into the cook schedule.  Is this variation in cook time a common experience?

Overall, the butts were delicious and everyone enjoyed them.  Thanks again to all on the BGE Forum who helped contribute to this success!

Comments

  • smokesniffersmokesniffer Posts: 2,016
    I am a newbie to this style of cooking, but I will throw out something. You said you lost some temperature. Did you start your grill with a good full portion of lump? If you did, then the next thing I would ask is, did you use a wiggle road and go in through the bottom vent and push the wiggle rod up through the bottom of the fire grate and clean out the holes in the grate. They sometimes get plugged with ash or smaller pieces of lump and then that restricts the air flow. I have had the temps drop and it was due to plugged grate holes. Hope this helps, I am sure other will chime in.
    They look delicious. Welcome to the forum.
    Large, small, and a mini
  •  If you were cooking at 250 dome temp you were cooking at a temp that might have been too low, since the grill temp was probably lower.  I get fine results at 235-250 grill temp and the dome temp is always consistently higher unless the lid has been shut for hours without opening and the whole egg has stabilized.  It won't hurt to go higher on the temp and will make the cook go faster.

    As smokesniffer says, make sure you start with plenty of lump.  I've found that all of my fires require a little jiggling at some point too.  Also, I haven't progressed to that higher state of consciousness that I can set the egg and leave it for 12 or more hours.  I still have to adjust the bottom air.
  • BakerManBakerMan Posts: 159

    Make sure you calibrate you thermometer before your next cook.  Several people have reported big errors in calibration. 

    From  the BGE Site FAQ
    "If you think your gauge is reading incorrectly, first make sure the EGG is clean inside and that there is a proper load of charcoal in place. To calibrate the gauge, carefully place the stem of your gauge into a pot of boiling water, being careful to not rest the tip of the gauge against the bottom of the pan. Exercise EXTREME CAUTION as boiling water is very dangerous and can easily burn you. We recommend holding the gauge with pliers and wearing a heat proof glove or mitt. After about one minute, your gauge should read 212°F. If your temperature indicator is not at the 212°F mark, adjust the indicator by turning the nut on the underside of the gauge using a 7/16″ wrench. Rotate nut in direction needed to align pointer at proper temperature and repeat to recheck your gauge as instructed above. AGAIN, EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION AT ALL TIMES WHEN BOILING WATER."

    I discovered during my second pork butt cook that I was cooking them too low and now make sure my dome temp is 250.  I got a Maverick ET-732 for Christmas which is very nice.  It has one probe to monitor pit temp you clip on the grate and another for the food.  For over night cooks I fill the Egg with charcoal half way up the fire ring.  Like Smokesniffer said you need to make sure air flow is good on low cooks.  I also use a wiggle rod after several hours.

    BakerMan - Purcellville, VA "When its smokin' its cookin', when its black its done"
  • bigguy136bigguy136 Posts: 1,160
    I did a 7 lb boston butt over the weekend and kept grate temp at 225° for the first 16 hours then went to 265° for another 4 hours. I also used a stoker so my grate temp was very close during the cook. It was great that night, brought some into work today for some co-workers and thet said it was so tender, they didn't need to chew. Even eating some cold it is more tender than any I've bought already done for me. 

    Big Lake, Minnesota

    2X Large BGE, 1 Mini Max, Stokers, Adjustable Rig

  • I did a 7 lb boston butt over the weekend and kept grate temp at 225° for the first 16 hours then went to 265° for another 4 hours. I also used a stoker so my grate temp was very close during the cook. It was great that night, brought some into work today for some co-workers and thet said it was so tender, they didn't need to chew. Even eating some cold it is more tender than any I've bought already done for me. 
    Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!
  • LyndeLynde Posts: 12

    I cooked a 7 lb butt this weekend for the first time so it would be ready for the Nebraska / SC Gamecock football game (GO COCKS!).  Used my Digi DX2 controls for the first time as well.  Set the pit temp for 230 and the meat temp for 185 - i let it cook for over 18 hours (started at 6:00 pm and removed at noon).  I thought it would be a dried up chunk of meat.  It was EXTREMELY tender and moist - my wife, 14 year old daughter and 13 year old son and myself ate the whole 7 lb butt (includes the left overs).  I was surprised on how little charcoal the BGE used over 18 hours.  The Digi blower kept the temp spot on - I used the ramp feature so it brought the pit temp down as the meat temp got closer to the set point for the internal temp - a great investment. 

  • I cooked a 7 lb butt this weekend for the first time so it would be ready for the Nebraska / SC Gamecock football game (GO COCKS!).  Used my Digi DX2 controls for the first time as well.  Set the pit temp for 230 and the meat temp for 185 - i let it cook for over 18 hours (started at 6:00 pm and removed at noon).  I thought it would be a dried up chunk of meat.  It was EXTREMELY tender and moist - my wife, 14 year old daughter and 13 year old son and myself ate the whole 7 lb butt (includes the left overs).  I was surprised on how little charcoal the BGE used over 18 hours.  The Digi blower kept the temp spot on - I used the ramp feature so it brought the pit temp down as the meat temp got closer to the set point for the internal temp - a great investment. 

    Congrats on the first one.  It's amazing how the egg can make us such fabulous cooks in the eyes of satisfied family and friends.
  • NDGNDG Posts: 1,546

    SOOOO, i just pulled my dome thermo for a quick calibration test before my big super bowl low-n-slow cook.  Boiled some water and tested with my thermopen instant and registered 212*F.  Then tested my dome thermo and it gets up near 200* but not a degree further than 200*F. 

    The post above says "If your temperature indicator is not at the 212°F mark, adjust the indicator by turning the nut on the underside of the gauge using a 7/16″ wrench. Rotate nut in direction needed to align pointer at proper temperature" . . . . . . but I do not see a bolt on the underside?  Here is a pic of my dome thermo, so maybe this model is older and doesnt have a bolt? 

    ~ Do you guys suggest I buy a new dome thermo? Or am I somehow misunderstanding the "nut of the underside" description?

    THANKS! 

    Columbus, Ohio
  • I'm not seeing a pic.
  • it is not a bolt, just the head of a nut that the probe comes out of the middle.

     

    XL   Walled Lake, MI

  • NDGNDG Posts: 1,546
    GOOD CALL . . . .here is the pic, thanks!
    Columbus, Ohio
  • Turn it around and take a pic of the side where the nut should be...
  • NDGNDG Posts: 1,546

    Ok, i just read STEVESAILS post that  "it is not a bolt, just the head of a nut that the probe comes out of the middle" so I now understand.  I figured that nut was just to support the probe, but I will get some tools and play around with it . . . thanks for the help. 

    Columbus, Ohio
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