Big Green Egg - EGGhead Forum - The Ultimate Cooking Experience...
We hope you all got to celebrate those tasty food holidays last week, we sure enjoyed them! We are even more excited about the beginning of fall, for so many reasons, but mainly for experiencing the cool, crisp air while being outside cooking up the best recipes the season has to offer. We especially love these Beer Pork Tenderloin and Ground Beef Acorn Squash recipes! Fall is upon us, and it's a great time for getting out to one of the many #EGGfests around the country - see a list here

Aboutt to try smoking a pork butt, need advice

RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Am about to try smoking a pork shoulder (pork butt) from Costco.

I need it to finish by 12noon on Saturday for a high school graduation party for my oldest son.

I have a large green egg and no experience with smoking a pork butt.

The butt weighs about 14 - 15 lbs.

I have so many questions:

1. Should I cut the meat in half to reduce cook time?
2. Based on your answer on #1, when should I start cooking ?
3. How do I get enough smoke on a long cook without opening the egg ? I.e. what's the strategy on mixing wood and charcoal ? Big chunks or chips, or both ?
4. To rub, or not rub, that is the question.
- If so, can you recommend a good easy to make rub?
- If not, what kind of wood smoke should I use?
- I have mesquite, hickory, pecan, and apple.
5. Do I open up the egg and baste/mop ?
6. What temp should use for smoking ?
- Do I keep the temp constant, or ramp the temp after the meat reaches a particular value ?
7. What should the meat thermometer read when it is done ?

I've got a lot of relatives coming to celebrate my son's graduation. It's going to be pretty embarrasing if I make a mess of this. I would appreciate any advice or answers to the above questions.

Thanks.

Comments

  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 6,959
    Welcome to the madhouse!! :)

    1. Should I cut the meat in half to reduce cook time?
    It is probably two butts already. They usually are from Costco.

    2. Based on your answer on #1, when should I start cooking ?
    I would allow 2 hrs per pound of the the largest butt. If it finishes early, wrap in foil, then bath towels and stuff it all in a cooler. Will be plenty hot for 4-5 hours. Then pull it apart and enjoy.

    3. How do I get enough smoke on a long cook without opening the egg ? I.e. what's the strategy on mixing wood and charcoal ? Big chunks or chips, or both ?
    I use chunks. Mix them in with the lump as you're building the pile.

    4. To rub, or not rub, that is the question.
    - If so, can you recommend a good easy to make rub?
    I use this all the time. Love it...

    1 Tbls salt
    1 Tbls sugar
    1 Tbls brown sugar
    1 Tbls ground cumin
    1 Tbls chili powder
    1 Tbls cracked black pepper
    1 Tbls paprika
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    - If not, what kind of wood smoke should I use?
    - I have mesquite, hickory, pecan, and apple.
    I always use hickory for butts.

    5. Do I open up the egg and baste/mop ?
    No

    6. What temp should use for smoking ?
    250° dome temp. Be sure to calibrate your temp gauge.

    - Do I keep the temp constant, or ramp the temp after the meat reaches a particular value ?
    250° start to finish.

    7. What should the meat thermometer read when it is done ?
    195-200°

    I've got a lot of relatives coming to celebrate my son's graduation. It's going to be pretty embarrasing if I make a mess of this. I would appreciate any advice or answers to the above questions.

    It'll be fine. Butts are hard to screw up. :) Congrats to your son!!!
    [/quote]
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
     
    It would be a good to go read this page. http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2002/02/pork-pork-shoulder-butt-picnic.html

    Rub, of course. I rub the meat with mustard then season heavily.

    Wondering if your package has 2 smaller butts.

    Figure 1.5 hours per pound and give yourself some time for the rest, up to 4 hours.

    If you have them chunks - again look at the above site for 'Smoking Wood'. Yes, mix smoking wood and lump.

    I don't baste or rub.

    I like cherry, apple, hickory, mesquite, grape vine or Jack Daniels chips. I haven't used much pecan as I don't have easy access to it.

    Set your egg to 250° (calibrated) dome and leave it there if you possibly can. I do ramp if I run out of time.

    Cook the butts to 195° - 200° but the real test is when a probe/fork/thermometer can easily enter/twist and remove with out pulling on whatevery you are using to probe with.

    Don't panic cooking pulled pork is one of the easiest cooks to do on the egg. About as easy as doing hot dogs. Make sure your fire doesn't go out during the cook and you will be fine.

    GG
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    "I use this all the time. Love it...

    1 Tbls salt
    1 Tbls sugar
    1 Tbls brown sugar
    1 Tbls ground cumin
    1 Tbls chili powder
    1 Tbls cracked black pepper
    1 Tbls paprika
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper "

    Looks like a great mix. I haven't put the sugar or cayenne in but the rest is the same. I will have to add both and give it a try.

    That is also a great rub for steaks and burgers.

    Kent
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    Thanks for the responses so far. Some follow-up questions:

    1. If the dome temp reads 250F, what is the air temp likely to be near the meat (assuming a platesetter upside down with the grill on top) ?
    2. If I decide to apply a rub, do I apply it immediately before the meat goes on the grill? Or earlier ?
    3. How deep should the polder meat sensor be inserted? All the way to the curve ? 1/2 way ??
    4. If I'm putting chunks of wood in with the lump, how many chunks, what are the size of the chunks, and are they mixed into the lump in some sort of a pattern ? Should they be wet/saturated or dry ?

    Thanks
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    RoadKillBBQ wrote:
    Thanks for the responses so far. Some follow-up questions:

    1. If the dome temp reads 250F, what is the air temp likely to be near the meat (assuming a platesetter upside down with the grill on top) ?
    2. If I decide to apply a rub, do I apply it immediately before the meat goes on the grill? Or earlier ?
    3. How deep should the polder meat sensor be inserted? All the way to the curve ? 1/2 way ??
    4. If I'm putting chunks of wood in with the lump, how many chunks, what are the size of the chunks, and are they mixed into the lump in some sort of a pattern ? Should they be wet/saturated or dry ?

    Thanks

    If you haven't already, do yourself a big favor and read the page I posted a link to above.

    About 20° lower than the dome.

    Apply the rub from the night before to just before putting on the egg. If you let the rub stay on the meat for more than a few hours, add more before putting on the meat. Letting the rub stay on the meat for a time does make a difference.

    I leave a monitor probe in the meat for the full cook as I use a Stoker, DigiQ and or Maverick ET732. The meat will stay in the plateau for a long time so check it once in a while and more often when you get close to the 190° area.

    I check the point & then the flat about 1/2 the thickness of the meat and I try to go horizontal if possible.

    As far as the amount of wood, again the link.

    Smoking Woods

    GG
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 6,959
    Thanks for the responses so far. Some follow-up questions:

    1. If the dome temp reads 250F, what is the air temp likely to be near the meat (assuming a platesetter upside down with the grill on top) ?
    I'm told it's about 225°, but I've never cared.

    2. If I decide to apply a rub, do I apply it immediately before the meat goes on the grill? Or earlier ?
    I always do it right before I add the meat to the grill. Some folks apply hours before. Don't know why. But do apply a rub. I tried it once with just salt & pepper - nowhere near as good!

    3. How deep should the polder meat sensor be inserted? All the way to the curve ? 1/2 way ??
    Don't really know. I just stick it in. Just don't shove it up against the bone. When it gets close, you'll want to check in multiple places anyway.

    4. If I'm putting chunks of wood in with the lump, how many chunks, what are the size of the chunks, and are they mixed into the lump in some sort of a pattern ? Should they be wet/saturated or dry ?
    3-4 fist sized chunks. Spread em around. Soaking isn't needed.

    One other thing... Start your fire, add all the hardware (platesetter, grid, drip pan) leave vents wide open til temp gets to 220° or so, then start closing the vents. Top should be completely closed except for the daisy wheel, each petal open maybe 1/16-1/8". Bottom vent open 1/16" or so. That should get you close to 250°. Pay attention so it doesn't get out of hand. Really hard to bring temps down if they get too high.

    Once it gets to 250°, leave it there for 30-45 minutes to make sure it's stable. Then add the meat. Temp will drop, but don't mess with anything as it will come back up to 250° within an hour or so.

    Oh, and when you initially load the lump, fill it to the top of the firebox, maybe a little higher.

    Good luck!! :)
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    Thanks GG. I read the post on the smoking woods. I'll get some chunks and try it out.
  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,523
    I always put ordinary yellow mustard on the butt before the rub. I don't know what it REALLY does, but the bark sure tastes good. Maybe the vinegar in the mustard does something, maybe the mustard spice...I sure like it.
    Judy in San Diego
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    Thanks Michael. This will be my first overnight cook, so I hope the temps remain stable. I'm going to get everything going and stable a couple of hours before bed. I plan on getting 8 hours of sleep and see how everything looks in the morning.

    I am going to go start mixing up the rub. I'll apply it to the meat tonight and let it sit on the meat in the fridge till I put it on the smoker tomorrow.

    Thanks for the advice.
  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,523
    Let me add this: I pull the butt at no more than 195, more like 190°, because I think it's too dry at 200°.

    And there is no way you can mess it up--it's quite forgiving. When you pull it, wear rubber gloves, because it is HOT.
    Judy in San Diego
  • I would recommend against that if it is your first cook, especially since you have so much riding on it. I followed every instruction to a T my first time. I even sorted the lump and stacked it by size, everything. I watched if for hours before I went to bed. My fire however did its own thing, didn't burn evenly and by morning my egg was way down - 100-140 range can't remember precisely.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    Vertical burns do happen. A long nights sleep is nice but waking up to an uncooked butt is really disappointing and it always seems to happen when the cook is important.

    If you don't have a remote thermometer with alarms do yourself a big favor and check the egg once in a while. The egg will probably hold just fine and you will be upset you didn't sleep through but not having a problem is even better.

    GG
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,908
    That does happen on overnighters, but if you just set an alarm every few hours it will be fine. Just sleep on the couch so your significant other will let you do it again.

    Worst case if you mess it up, just go to a BBQ joint and buy several lbs of cooked pork. It will cost 10 times as much but oh well. Don't stress over it...butts are very forgiving. It will turn out wonderful.



    I re-read my post and don't think that last part made sense :). What I mean is: it will most likely go fine and there is probably no reason to stress. However, just in case your fire goes out or something you could have a backup plan to buy some Q. Then, you can sleep easy (until your alarm goes off reminding you to check on the egg).


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg wing. 
    2014 Wing King's Apprentice
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 6,959
    darlin', mustard is for HOT DOGS!!
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    I just finished putting on the rub. As you guys mentioned, the 14lb costco pork shoulder was actually two shoulders. One is about 8 lbs, the other one is about 6 lbs. I used the rub suggested earlier in the thread (doubled the recipe since there were two shoulders to deal with). It's in saran wrap and inside the fridge now.

    Assuming I keep the temp at 250F at the dome (maybe 225F at the level of the shoulders), should I put them on at around 8pm on Friday to be ready at noon on Saturday ? I can always keep them warm if they finish early.

    Ok. Good advice on waking up every couple of hours to check the temp.

    It's not my first long slow cook on the egg, but it's my first overnighter and first pork butt. I can usually get the temp stable and hold it without having to mess with it. But as you guys suggest, given the importance of the occasion it would not hurt to wake up every 3 hours or so to check on it.

    As SmokeyPitt suggested, I can always vanish for 30 minutes and go get some "local" pulled pork :laugh:
  • davehempdavehemp Posts: 109
    I would start it MUCH earlier myself...believe it or not, by 2:00 in the afternoon...I cooked the same size Costco pork a while back - 205 degrees, a bit lower than what you plan, but it was 23 hours til it hit 195 in the center of the pork......I think you're easily lookng at 18 hour cook...plus rest time...
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    Hmm ... good point. If it takes 2 hours per pound instead of 1.5 hours per pound, I could be looking at a 16+ hour cook.

    If I start it very early and it magically finishes early, then I can always keep it warm in an ice chest for several hours. If I start early and it takes longer than planned to cook, then no harm done and I'm still on schedule.

    For an 18 hour cook, do I need to load charcoal higher than the top of the firebox ? Say halfway up the fire ring ?
  • davehempdavehemp Posts: 109
    I didn't load past the fire ring, but I was using a DigiQ at 205 degrees steady, so I figure I was getting very efficient use from the lump - I even had some left after the cook...I wouldn't think it would hurt to load a little past or right up to the top of the firebox...maybe someone else can chime in on that...
  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    To much thinking. Load the Egg all the way up with lump, light it, stabilize at 250ish, and put on the butt. A large loaded to the top with lump can go 36hours or more at 250.
  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,523
    Sweetie, expand your world!
    Judy in San Diego
  • srq2625srq2625 Posts: 262
    1. Should I cut the meat in half to reduce cook time? All I've ever seen at CostCo are a pair of boneless butts in a cryovac bag. If that's the case with you, no cutting needed.

    2. Based on your answer on #1, when should I start cooking ? I've found that these cook up in between 10 and 14 hours at 225°F (grill, 250°F dome). Leave yourself lots of time in your schedule; i.e., start early. If they come off early, just double wrap each in foil, wrap each in a large towel, and place in a warm cooler. They'll keep for at least 4 hours that way.

    3. How do I get enough smoke on a long cook without opening the egg ? I.e. what's the strategy on mixing wood and charcoal ? Big chunks or chips, or both ? I get the Egg up to temp with all the parts in place (plate setter, grill, etc). Then, when I'm ready, I open up the Egg, remove the what I need to get to the coals, toss in my smoke wood on top, rebuild the rig, add the meat and let'r rip.

    4. To rub, or not rub, that is the question. Yes! It doesn't matter much when you do it. I've done it the night before. I've done it right after I start the fire. No real difference in the flavor of the product. Some people use mustard to "ensure the rub sticks". I simply towel dry the pork, slather with vegetable oil and the apply the rub. Seems to create a very nice, firm, dark, flavorful bark.

    - If so, can you recommend a good easy to make rub? I mix mine - brown sugar, dry mustard, pepper, powered onion, powered celery, chili powder, paprika, and a touch of salt.

    - If not, what kind of wood smoke should I use? Fruit wood, cherry, apple are my choices for pork. This is in addition to the rub.

    5. Do I open up the egg and baste/mop ? No

    6. What temp should use for smoking ? grill --> 225°F (250°F dome)

    - Do I keep the temp constant, or ramp the temp after the meat reaches a particular value ? Constant.

    7. What should the meat thermometer read when it is done ? I pull from the Egg when I get an internal (center of the pork butt) temp of 192°F. I then let it rest at least 1/2 hour before I pull it (see wrapping instructions above).

    As has already been noted, you make a lot of "mistakes" and still arrive at a product that you can be proud to serve - pulled pork is very difficult to screw up (though I've seen commercial BBQ restaurants serve crap I wouldn't look twice at).

    Amount of lump - I load up the Egg to about 1/2 way up the firering and have always ended up with left over lump and never had the fire go out. No waste though, I just re-use the left over lump on the next cook.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    I think some have found that the powered draft units actually use a bit more lump than running without one.

    Your 2 hrs a pound is about right for a grate temp of 200-205. A dome temp of 225 would give you that too. I think most of us gave up on the ultramarathon cooks of 24+ hours and just go around 250
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    Progress report. Both butts have been on the large green egg since 1pm today (Friday). They have been on the grill for 10hours (it's 11pm now).

    The meat thermometer reads 155F, the air temp at the grate is 205F.

    I'll check the temp's every 3 hours tonight. I hope this turns out ok and is ready by noon on Saturday.

    - Steven
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    At 12pm last night, the temp alarm went off. The air temp had reached 225F, so I reduced size of the lower draft door opening slightly. The meat was at 145F

    At 3am, I woke up to find the grill at 185F, so I opened the lower draft door slightly and opened the daisy wheel slightly. The meat temp was at 156F.

    I woke up at 5am and the grill temp was at 175F and the meat was at 147F. We had record low temperatures near 50F in Dallas last night so maybe that had something to do with it. This time I stayed awake until I stabilized the grill temp at 222F.

    At 7:30am the meat alarm went off at 185F (I set it a bit lower to give me early warning). For the first time since 1pm yesterday I opened the lid to take a peek. The two shoulders look like Texas meteors. The meat had a thick, dark bark and had shrunk considerably. It looked rather "wizened" to lack for a better word. I hope the meat is tender and not dried out. I closed the lid quickly without touching the meat.

    I reset the meat thermometer for 192F and will take the meat off, wrap it in foil and towels and put in a styrofoam ice chest till lunch at 11am.

    I sure hope I have not invented the first pork jerky.
  • RoadKillBBQRoadKillBBQ Posts: 23
    The meat alarm just went off at 192F and I pulled the meat, wrapped it in foil and a couple of towels and placed it in a styrofoam ice chest. It's 8:30am and the meat should keep till 11am.

    The meat is very, very crusty on the outside. The thinner pieces at the edge (the costco pork shoulder was already deboned) have a pretty tough texture.

    A piece broke off one of the hams as I was picking it up to put on the foil. The interior looks just like "lunchmeat ham". There was no fat or connective tissue left in the cross section of meat exposed.

    I always thought pulled pork was lighter, almost tan colored. We'll see what happens when I try to pull it with a fork at 11am.

    I used the rub that was recommended early in this thread. One of the crusty thin end pieces jumped off the plate into my mouth. Pure accident. Never seen anything like it. It's like it had a mind of its own :evil: . It was spicey and crunchy (tasted pretty good, in a pork jerky sort of way). I hope the main hunk of meat is tender.

    Thanks for all the advice.
Sign In or Register to comment.