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Help Me Understand Why My 8 Pound Pork Butt Took 19.5 Hours in my Brand New Large Egg (w/ Pics)

rjoyerrjoyer Posts: 3
edited September 2011 in Forum List

First off, thanks to all of those who posted pics, suggestions, tips, recommendations and links to helpful information on here.  This forum has already been very helpful in the 4 short days I've owned my Large Egg.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Over the weekend I decided I wanted smoke a pork butt as a way of breaking in the Egg, and putting myself to the test.  I read the Elder Ward methodology for smoking one of these beasties, and pretty much followed his instructions to a "T," with the only exception being how I seasoned the butt.  Here's the link to his process for reference.

My major complaint is that it took ~19.5 hours to get the internal temp up to 195*, which seems way too long for a ~8pound piece of meat (at least based on what I've read here).  I'm hoping that the collective wisdom here can help me figure out what I did wrong so I can improve the next time.  I'm guessing that in order to do so, you'll need to know what I did, so here goes:

I bought an ~8 pound butt from Costco, slathered it in mustard and coated it in my seasoning of choice.

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I started out by cleaning out the Egg from my two prior runs, and then followed Elder Ward's instructions on arranging the lump coal.  By a few minutes after 11pm, I started the fire, inserted the plate setter, drip pan, grill grate and closed the lid.  Got the temp up to ~250* on the dome thermometer and adjusted the vents to stabilize it.  By midnight, the temp had been staying at ~250* for about 30-40 minutes, so I tossed Mr. Piggy on the grate.


I closed the lid, nursed an adult beverage or two, and kept an eye on the dome thermometer.  It dropped a little bit, going from ~250* to ~225*, but stayed pretty stable there until I went to bed at 1am.

At 5:30am, I woke up and checked on the temp.  It had dropped down to ~170*, so I opened up the vents a bit and got it back up to ~235* or so, and watched it "hang" there for about 30 minutes, so I went back to bed.

At 8:07am, I came back down and found the dome thermometer reading ~350*.  Stuck a probe in there, which gave a reading of 165*.  This is what the butt looked like at that time:


I closed the vents down, all the way, until the temp got back down to ~275* or so, which took about an hour. 

I finally found (by noon or so) stability in dome temp at about the 250* mark. It was about this time that I put a remote probe thermometer into Mr. Piggy...I was shocked to watch the temp drop from ~173* all the way down to 164* over the course of an hour or so (no peaking/opening of the Egg), where it stayed until about 4pm or so.  Knowing that I had guests coming over at ~6pm, I kicked the vents open a bit until I got a dome reading of ~275*, where it stayed until I FINALLY got the probe thermometer to read 195* at 7:30pm.


All in, this was a 19.5 hour process, which I suppose I am ok with, but it seemed way longer than what other threads suggested the total cook time should take for a piece of meat of that size and the general temp ranges I was within.

The general ask I have of you all is what should I have done differently?  Did I react to the temps too much by adjusting the vents perhaps too frequently?  Is it common for the Egg to drop all the way down to 170* with a cold piece of meat given the temps I was "stabilized" on?...I've read that it will drop due to introducing a cold mass of meat, but most folks seem to suggest that going below 200* is when to react.

As a side note, the meat was pretty tasty, though it almost seemed like it had been cooked for too long, even though the internal temp was spot on in the largest portion of the butt.





  • vidalia1vidalia1 Posts: 7,092
    I cook my butts indirect at 350 for 2 1/2 hours (usually the butt is 150-160 internal) Then I double wrap in foil and put back on indirect at 350 for another 1 1/2 hrs (or until butt hits 192-200 internal). Carefully remove the juice and wrap the butt in towels and put in an ice chest for about 2 hrs...So my cooks are 4-6 hours including rest time...sorry I can't help with your long cook issues.... ;)
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Welcome and a get post!
    Love the pics.....
    First, each Butt will cook at a different rate and often if you are cooking two, one finishes before the other. 
    Second, temp drop is normal and to be expected. Before you go to bed, wiggle rod the grate to free it from ash build up. Seldom do I ever have to adjust my vents during the cook if I keep the lower gate openings clear. 
    Third, I've cooked many butts at 275-300 with the same results. Dome temp is 20-40 degrees hotter than grate temp. 
    Kent Madison MS
  • NC-CDNNC-CDN Posts: 703
    That temp drop off is quite large.  I suspect it wasn't quite holding steady.  When you saw it drop to 225, I'd have got it back up to at least 250.  If you want to get the meat to 200, then cooking at 225 (dome) is kinda low.  You can get there, but it's going to take longer.  If it didn't drop you'd have been right on target.  Better luck next time.  You'll get the hang of it.  REally its not too hard.  Just have to adjust and watch and learn.  Otherwise buy yourself a pit minder like a BBQ Guru.  Nothing to watch.  Go to sleep and rest easy. 
  • crmiltcrmilt Posts: 115
    Elder Ward says to cook at 200 throughout the night and then bump up the temperature.  His method takes a long time but I trust it.  He is low and real slow!
    __________ Chris
  • A plateau in the temp of the meat is normal. A temp DROP is not. 

    After my experience with my stoker, I can't understand for the life of me why anyone would do long, low, and slow without the use of a temp controller. My last 8 lb butt took 17 hours, from fridge to 200 and the pit temp was rock solid at 250 the whole time.

    The reality of pork shoulder is that it is a very durable and forgiving cut. Cook it hot, cool, long, short, kick it up and down the block a few times - it doesn't matter. The fat marbling just protects it and ensures porcine bliss every time. Brisket on the other hand...

  • DaddyoDaddyo Posts: 209
    Sometimes it takes that long.  A butt will stay hot for 6 hours if you wrap it in foil, stick it in a cooler, and leave the lid shut.  NEVER try to get a butt done just in time for dinner.  Plan on 2 or 3 hours early and stick it in a cooler while you relax and wait for your guests.
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,906
    edited September 2011
    Have you tested your thermometer for accuracy?  I gotta think it's off.  I've cooked dozens and dozens of pork putts and not one of them has ever taken that 19 hours.  I cook my butts at between 235-250 grid level (so it probably 20-30 degrees hotter reading on the dome thermometer).

    Boil some water and check to see if you therm reads 212.  If not, adjust the screw on the back until it does.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • My 8.5 lb butt took 19 hrs to hit 200 deg with the Egg at 250 deg. So I wouldn't worry. Be sure to check your thermometer though.
    Morro Bay, CA
  • My igrill chart shows a drop in temp quite often.  It all has to do with the collagen's melting point.  It does some crazy stuff.
  • EggtuckyEggtucky Posts: 2,746
    Don't know where you read it, but your time is not that far off.  If I have guests coming, I plan on getting the butt ready about 3 hrs prior to their arrival time, then wrap in double foil, towels, and place in a cooler to keep it hot (safe for around 4 hrs like this).  Right before folks start to arrive, I unwrap the butt and pull it.  Tastes like it just came off the egg!  As with others above, for low and slow, get you a digi Q!
  • I have been using the BGE for less than a year and have done several butt's as well. I have noticed temp drop over the night also. I solved this issue by purchasing a DigiQ DX.  This has helped allot by maintaining a constant temp on the long cooks. I have butts finish in at around 17 hours but have gone as long as 20 also.
    I try to keep the egg around 225 - 235 for rib's and butts.
    Todd Dragon Breath Lump Charcoal Dealer XL Big Green Egg & Large Big Green Egg Rebel 23' Smoker DigiQ DXII & Cyber Que WIFI KCBS Member & CBJ
  • Before I got my DigiQ I would check the dome temperature every hour or two. Once stabilized the temperature should remain constant, however something as simple as a change in wind direction could change the dome temp. Yes I didn't get much sleep and was tired by the time guests arrived, but it did keep the temperature from making a radical change. With the DigiQ I get more sleep. The temp stays dead on.
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,508
    You've received some great advice so far. Monitoring the temp at the grate level will help a lot with time consistency. 9 pound butts almost always cook in 12-13 hours at 240 grate for our team.

    Happy cookin!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
    Instagram: @DizzyPigBBQ
  • Thanks for all of the feedback and input!....perhaps I wasn't as far off as I thought.  :)

    I havent' yet calibrated my thermometer, so I definitely plan to do so before my next cook.  Hopefully the fix is as simple as a minor adjustment.  Interesting to learn that the dome temp reading is 20-30 degrees warmer than the grill grate temp...I'll have to keep that in mind for future reference. 

    Also, I think the suggestion that, perhaps, the Egg wasn't quite holding steady yet makes a bit of sense.  I think I'll let it hold at my desired temp for ~60 minutes next time before slapping the butt on the grate.

    Agains, thanks for the feedback.  I'll post on my next experience.

  • At two hours a pound you are a little long at 19.5 hrs. Your 170 temp during your sleep time must account for this extra time. I would have wrapped it in foil at 8 am. It will climb steady and then stop and cool but only a few degrees in my experiance.

    I use a guru digiq and a separate temp probe. This allows me to watch the pit temp(on the digi) and meat temp without going outside to push a button. I also attach the pit probe very close to the meat. I cook at 210

    I grill therefore I am.....not hungy.
  • I haven't tried it yet but i intend to do my next butt at 350 degrees. I've read on hear where some have used higher temps like this with good results.
    Frank From Indiana
  • I don't care for this new system, I like to never got a post on here. And I want to correctmy spelling on my prior post but I don't see any way to edit it.I used hear when it should have been here. Now can anyone tell me where Spring Chicken and his great comments can be found? Also is anyone doing woosday anymore? I can't find it if it is out there.And one more thing, I don't see many pix anymore.I feel like I'm missing something .
  • Which fan did you get for your guru diggi? I have a large bge.
  • I don't care for this new system, I like to never got a post on here. And I want to correctmy spelling on my prior post but I don't see any way to edit it.I used hear when it should have been here. Now can anyone tell me where Spring Chicken and his great comments can be found? Also is anyone doing woosday anymore? I can't find it if it is out there.And one more thing, I don't see many pix anymore.I feel like I'm missing something . FRANK FROM iNDIANA


    The old site is still there.  I surf both now, but mostly the other one.

    John - SLC, UT

    2 XLs, Medium, MM, and Mini

  • rsmith193rsmith193 Posts: 219

    Tfirst thing i will say is I don't trust the dome thermometer, I always use a Maverick remote thermometer. The OE is not very accurate. I keep my egg at 230 for butts. I put it on about 9:00pm and about 14 hours later, we have pulled pork. keep in mind the meat will stall about 165. don't panic, This is normal. At about 195 I remove it and wrap the butt in foil. then place it in an empty cooler for holding until I need it.

  • neumskineumski Posts: 41
    @ rjoyer...or anyone...Nobody brought this up...just outa curiousity...what kind of lump did you use? How old is it...could it have gotten wet or moist at some time in the past? 
    2nd large Egg Nest
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273
    How did it taste?
    Cookin in Texas
  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 6,924
    Makes sense it took that long if you cooked below 200 dome for a handful of hours while sleeping. This means the grate level was likely lower than that. Hard to get meat up to 195-205 with a grate temp of sub 200.
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • TJ_CTJ_C Posts: 1
    One thing I havent seen mentioned in here is that you removed and reprobed your thermometer each time thus you were not necessarily testing the same spot in the meat, which could account for the larger discrepancy. Once I put my thermometer in for my initial test I do not remove it, just leave it in that spot for accuracy. I also make sure to get it as close to center as I can for an accurate reading.
  • My first 8 pounder took 18 hours and my 2nd one took about 11 hours.  Each one is different.  Definitely check your thermometer and consider getting a Maverick, which will help you keep a stable temperature throughout.  I wonder if your grate temperature was actually well under 200 degrees during that drop off and until 4pm. 
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