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Failed Boston Butt...

joeybrown105joeybrown105 Posts: 7
edited April 2012 in EggHead Forum
Tried my first overnight smoke this past weekend. Medium BGE trying to smoke a boston butt 24 hours at 220. Plate setter, legs up.

I'll try to be brief here, put it on the grill saturday around 5pm, had the temp held at 225 no problems, went to bed that night, still holding the temp, woke up sunday morning, and it was out.. so i re-lit at 9am

left for the golf course at 1pm, came back at 6pm expecting good BBQ, but i got pork that was tough to pull, and overall just did not meet my expectations. 

Any suggestions/tricks on what might be causing my flame to go out?

thanks all!

Comments

  • travisstricktravisstrick Posts: 4,574
    Did you use something to measure the temp of the meat? Or did you just cook to time? I would bet dollars to doughnuts that you didnt cook to temp. 

    Weather My butt takes 6 hrs or 26 hrs, it's not done till 205 degrees internal temp. 
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • Yea I'd say I made the mistake of cooking to time. Was just assuming that the longer I waited the more likely it would dry out.

    I guess my main question/frustration is not the principle of cooking to temp, but more-so why my fire kept going out overnight.

    I've had my egg almost 5 years now, and I'm money on steaks/prime rib/burgers/3-5 hour smokes, but when it comes to overnights, I've had consistent problems keeping it lit.

  • For noobs I always recommend only using large chunks of lump and place them in by hand up to the bottom of the fire ring. Let the fire burn with the dome open for 20-30 min then shut the lid and bring down to temp. Let your fire burn at temp for an hour before adding the butt. You don't HAVE to do all of those things, but it's fool proof. Make sure your egg is totally cleaned out before any long cook. As you get better at it, you can dial some of these steps back. I still do it this way and my fires do not go out. And as trav said, always cook to temp, no matter how many times your fire goes out or anything else. Butts and brisket are. It done until they are done. No amount of time will make them good. Only temp.

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,251
    its easier to maintain dome temps of 250 to 275, and check every 4 or 5 hours. i do check temps, but its more to see how the probe slides into the pork butt than a temp reading, you can use a butterknife etc. at 220 dome the cook is excessively long and if your gage is reading off and not right on calibrated your doomed at the low temp
  • Doc_EggertonDoc_Eggerton Posts: 4,039
    I just finished rock solid 220 for 11 hours.
    IMG_3654.JPG
    2816 x 2112 - 2M
    Pasquali Luciano
    Buon appetito to all the BGE family
    XLBGE, LBGE, MBGE and lots of toys

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,251
    I just finished rock solid 220 for 11 hours.
    i could be making an assumptionabout his temps, but 220 dome temp would be closer to 190 grate temp, hard to cook a butt to 200 if the grate temp is 190
  • What Cen-Tex said.
    I did my first overnight brisket last weekend and this method worked perfectly.  I still woke up at 4:30 am because I was paranoid, but when I checked the dome temp, it was right where I left it at 10 pm.  It had not moved at all.  

    This method seems labour-intensive, but worth it if you don't want to worry about your fire all night.

  • Doc_EggertonDoc_Eggerton Posts: 4,039
    I just finished rock solid 220 for 11 hours.


    i could be making an assumptionabout his temps, but 220 dome temp would be closer to 190 grate temp, hard to cook a butt to 200 if the grate temp is 190

    And I was cooking to grate temp, and internal temp.
    Pasquali Luciano
    Buon appetito to all the BGE family
    XLBGE, LBGE, MBGE and lots of toys

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,302
    There are several reasons a low temp fire could go out. The fire is in only one small place, or several smaller places, and by happenstance, doesn't move between unlit pieces of lump. After hours of burning, there was just enough ash build up that the air flow was poor.

    At any rate, it seems to me that a fair number of people report dead fires with domes lower than 250.

    As far as the butt being hard to pull, its simple. The collagen just wasn't hot enough, long enough to turn to gelatin. Once collagen reaches 180F, it breaks down quickly. The low tech test for doneness is if it feels like the bone can just be yanked out. Or, in de-boned butts, that the whole mass is starting to squish around like jelly.

    Whenever meat is cooked, it looses lots of water. A well done butt will loose about half of its weight to water loss. It doesn't turn out "dry" because the large mass of melted collagen replaces the lost water with a "succulent" feel. And, there is a lot of fat to slide the meat along.

    I haven't had dry pork butt except when I was cooking "country rib" portions as lo-n-slo as a whole butt. I figure the thinner slices give up water more readily than a big chunk. So cook till the meat is hot, 195 - 205. The temperature can be bumped up to as high as 350, and still good results in a quicker time.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,251
    I just finished rock solid 220 for 11 hours.


    i could be making an assumptionabout his temps, but 220 dome temp would be closer to 190 grate temp, hard to cook a butt to 200 if the grate temp is 190



    And I was cooking to grate temp, and internal temp.

    excactly, much easier to hold 220 at the grate than at the dome and no reason to cook 20 plus hours
  •  @ 250 dome.250 dome is the SWEET SPOT for a large BGE Not sure about a Med.ALWAYS cook to internal temp and not time.Lower than 250 dome smothers the fire on a L unless you use gadgets.I have gone 32 hours on one load of lump.By load,I mean FILL IT UP! To the top of the firering.If ya got some left,just relight it and use it up next time.Lump is cheeeep.
  • BigTex33BigTex33 Posts: 40

    I have tried both ways of starting a fire for a low and slow; stack by hand with large chunks at bottom and the "dump and light".  I had consistent temperatures and far fewer issues after hand stacking the lump.  The temperature never varied more than 10-15 degress when it was stacked by hand.  I have an XL and last time I did a low and slow I went 17 hours on one load of lump and still had at least 1/4 of my lump left after.

    I also try to hold my egg at 250-275 dome, im usually 25 degrees lower at the grate when I decide to throw a Maverick probe on.  I cook a butt to 205 and have left them naked the whole smoke time and wrapped in foil after 6 hours.  Each way gives me great pulled pork but the foil method speeds up the process quite a bit.

  • What Cen-Tex said.
    I did my first overnight brisket last weekend and this method worked perfectly.  I still woke up at 4:30 am because I was paranoid, but when I checked the dome temp, it was right where I left it at 10 pm.  It had not moved at all.  

    This method seems labour-intensive, but worth it if you don't want to worry about your fire all night.

    labor intensive is getting up all night worried about your fire. I drink beer while getting my fire ready so it makes me happy.

    Glad it worked for you. 

  • What Cen-Tex said.
    I did my first overnight brisket last weekend and this method worked perfectly.  I still woke up at 4:30 am because I was paranoid, but when I checked the dome temp, it was right where I left it at 10 pm.  It had not moved at all.  

    This method seems labour-intensive, but worth it if you don't want to worry about your fire all night.



    labor intensive is getting up all night worried about your fire. I drink beer while getting my fire ready so it makes me happy.

    Glad it worked for you. 
    How did that brisket work out?


  • tgklemantgkleman Posts: 199
    I just smoked some ribs this past weekend (indirect) where the grate temperature was set to 250F (home-made power draft unit w/ PID controller) and the dome temperature reading was 225.  All thermocouples were calibrated to boiling water as well as the BGE thermometer.  My point is the dome temp is not always higher than the grate temp, especially on low and slows.
  • alyndalynd Posts: 97
    So when instructions for cooking something at say 225, does that usually refer to the grate temp or the dome temp?  I just got a Maverick last night and placed it near the grate and noticed that the temp it was reading was off by about 30 degrees from the thermometer that came with the egg.  Which temperature reading is more important, and should I place my Maverick probe somewhere else, such as near the top of the dome?
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,697
    I just smoked some ribs this past weekend (indirect) where the grate temperature was set to 250F (home-made power draft unit w/ PID controller) and the dome temperature reading was 225.  All thermocouples were calibrated to boiling water as well as the BGE thermometer.  My point is the dome temp is not always higher than the grate temp, especially on low and slows.
    I've never seen this to be the case unless my grate probe was touching or very close to the meat.  My dome is ALWAYS higher than my grid temp and I tons of low and slows. That just my experience though....I've seen others report this.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,697
    edited April 2012
    So when instructions for cooking something at say 225, does that usually refer to the grate temp or the dome temp?  I just got a Maverick last night and placed it near the grate and noticed that the temp it was reading was off by about 30 degrees from the thermometer that came with the egg.  Which temperature reading is more important, and should I place my Maverick probe somewhere else, such as near the top of the dome?
    Depends who's reporting (posting) their cook as to whether they are talking about dome or grid temp.
    Your meat is on the grid so if you're really anal about exact temps, measuring at grid level is where you want to be.  Having said that, most meats are very forgiving. 10-20 (or more degrees) here or there isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.  I always measure at grid level when given the chance (low & slows) because over a LONG period of time (say 12 hours) it's going to make a big difference (time wise) whether you cook your pork butt at 210 or 250 (hours of difference).
    Packerland, Wisconsin

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