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Over-thinking and over-analyzing pulled pork

I have a bad habit of doing this.  ;)

I did my first overnight and first winter cook all in one last night and this AM. I recently bought a PartyQ and had to try it out, so I went with a couple of pork butts. I did a few this past summer and my family LOVES the results - and I have been asked to supply them with pulled pork. The problem was, I never really knew what it was costing me to make. I don't want to charge anything for my time since I enjoy using the Egg, but I have four kids to keep fed. So this time I figured it all up and made a spreadsheet to use on future cooks to make it much simpler. Here are my results for anyone who might be interested...

Bone in butts, no water added (2 @ 15.62 lb) cost 2.79/lb = 43.58

Rub + mustard to glue it all on = $4.15 (I was surprised at this considering the cost of spices)

Lump and batteries for the PartyQ = $11.55 - might be a bit on the high side. I figured a full bag of RO, but turns out I didn't use nearly as much as I thought I would considering the outside temps and length of cook (17 hrs).

Total cost was $59.28.

I got 7.25 lbs of pulled pork (46.4% of uncooked weight).

This comes up to $8.18/lb on the final product. Pretty pricy stuff IMO, but very good eating. I bought the butts at the local grocery store and have no idea if $2.79 is reasonable or not. Considering what this ends up costing, I am most certainly going to be shopping around and/or watching for sales. I also think that the 46% yield is too low. I believe I should be seeing 50% or more. I trimmed as much fat as I could, including most of the fat cap. Just that much less to use energy "melting" in the Egg.

The PartyQ is a great little device. I believe it saved my tail on this cook since it was dead calm and 26F when I went to bed last night and 18F and very windy when I got up at 5 AM this morning to check progress. I think that wind coming up would have created additional draft and likely would have raised the temps. The Q held rock steady. I had to replace the batteries at 14 hrs. Once the warranty if off (90 days), I believe I will rig up an AC to DC power source to run it with. I have AC power readily available where my Egg sits and I'd rather not have to worry about batteries running down on long cooks. Maybe in warm weather it will be less of an issue.

My other worry when I hit the sack last night was whether the lump would hold out for the entire cook in these temps. I filled the firebox as full as I could, avoiding the platesetter sitting directly on the lump. When all was said and done, I stirred the lump slightly to settle it and it still came up to the bottom of the fire ring. VERY impressed with that considering the weather! Funny how I can burn more lump on one hot pizza cook than I do on a 17 hr butt cook!  :)

Comments

  • That cook is probably the easiest & cheapest of all the long cooks...don't stress the little stuff.  

     

    -SMITTY     

    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • Crispix49Crispix49 Posts: 190
    I like your financial analysis of doing a BB, but look at the cost of a 1/2 lb pulled pork plate at some crappy BBQ joint...maybe $10-$13 for half a pound? (yes, I know it comes with sides :) Plus the pride that comes after a good cook that others enjoy is tough to put a price on.
    Atlanta suburbs
    Large & Mini owner
    UGA Alum - Go Dawgs!
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,173
    With 4 kids you probably cruise through the food, especially if any are teenage boys.  I look at food on a cost per meal.  Throw in some rolls, BBQ sauce, and salad and we'd get at least 2 dinners from that much meat. 

    Definitely watch for sales or use Costco.  Costco is normally $1.99/lb and a local supermarket had them for on sale for $1.49/lb this week.  I'll be having some pulled pork sandwiches and football tonight.  :)



    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • DocWonmugDocWonmug Posts: 261
    Try Sam's for the pork. $1.58/lb for a two-pack.
    LBGE
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,259
    Thank's for the breakdown. Its worthwhile.

    FWIW, I've read that the break even cost for restaurants is being able to sell the food for about 300% more than cost. Assuming a 1/4 pound sammy as the base size for PP, you could sell lower than most, if not all, the places near me . Probably at 1/3 pound too.

    I'd assume if you were buying in restaurant volume (wholesale) the meat and rub costs would decline. Around me, I can often find butts, picnics, spares and loins for $2/lb several times a year. I'd assume the markets are still making some profit at even those prices.

    Your final weight does seem rather low for a butt.  That might be due to trimming the fat. Moisture passes out thru meat more easily than fat. And some fat melted into the meat is not objectionable. (I don't think anyone eats PP if they are counting calories.)

    No need to trim the fat, but if you do, don't pitch it. Render it and save for frying, gravies, and breads.

    The lump cost seems about right. Other than taking a bit longer to come to temp, cold weather doesn't have much effect on the Egg's efficiency. Again, I'm sure if you bought your lump in pallet quantities, the savings would be notable.

    If I was cooking for a business, I probably would use a draft controller of some type, but for home use, I'm quite comfortable without.
  • twlangantwlangan Posts: 285
    you might actually die before anyone on here gives you any money saving tips. It cost me $100 every time I log in
    ROFL!! True. Very true!  :)

    Thanks for the comments folks. I tend to overthink things on a regular basis - especially when it comes to money. This is the very reason I opted for an Egg. I knew it would not be "cheap" to cook on, but when I do spend money, I don't like spending it on cheap crap. The Egg is a top quality thing that I intend to keep for the rest of my days and pass it along to one of my kids or grandkids.

    Figuring stuff up like this pork cook can be an eye opening thing. Prior to this, I was thinking the rub mix would have been a lot more expensive. Turns out it doesn't add that much to the cost. The biggest thing is what one pays for the meat - and the lump really isn't that cheap either. Since I have almost unlimited access to hardwood in this area, this has prodded me into looking more into making my own lump. It really isn't that hard to do. I don't cook enough to buy pallet loads of lump. I'd look into the possibility if I just knew more people close by that would be willing to split up a skid of it with.

    Yes, four kids - not cheap to raise this crew - and they are all girls. I can only imagine if they were boys. Egads!  LOL!! Since we raise our own beef and garden, it cuts the cost down considerably. An added benefit - NO store bought beef can come even close to what we raise ourselves. We've ran low on burger while waiting for a steer to finish for butchering and we can hardly gag that stuff down. Even tried making spicy chili with it to mask the off flavors - ended up feeding it to the cats.
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,881
    @twlangan great analysis, mostly because I like to do the same thing, always fun. Liked your previous analysis on rib roasts (I think it was you). Last week standing rib roasts, bone in, mixed AA and AAA were on sale for $5.99 lb. Even with the bone off and trimmed, seasoned, that is about the same cost as your analysis of the pulled pork. Both great meals, both very different, very similar costs. 
    Cost sometimes is just never considered, we just want to try the great looking stuff we all share here. Like CT says - it costs me everytime I visit....
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • hondabbqhondabbq Posts: 938

    I am so glad I am in the food service business and can get meats for cost. Butts cost me 1.46/lb for bone in and 1.77 for boneless.

    I did a couple of butts prior to it getting cold so I could have some during the winter if the cravings hit. I did about 21 lbs raw butts and I got 12 sandwich baggies full. I gave out a couple cause I am such a nice guy.......... and froze the rest. Meat was 35.76, rub and mustard was about 4-4.50, and lump was about 10-11 for RO. All in all I dont really care about costs as I like to eat and I can get the expensive part ( the meat) at wholesale pricing.

    It kills me to see Beef tenderloin at the store for $30+/kg. All my friends buy meat through me.

    Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    Sledder, Quadder, Rock and Roller, Big Green Egg Smoker.

  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    hondabbq said:

    I am so glad I am in the food service business and can get meats for cost. Butts cost me 1.46/lb for bone in and 1.77 for boneless.

    I did a couple of butts prior to it getting cold so I could have some during the winter if the cravings hit. I did about 21 lbs raw butts and I got 12 sandwich baggies full. I gave out a couple cause I am such a nice guy.......... and froze the rest. Meat was 35.76, rub and mustard was about 4-4.50, and lump was about 10-11 for RO. All in all I dont really care about costs as I like to eat and I can get the expensive part ( the meat) at wholesale pricing.

    It kills me to see Beef tenderloin at the store for $30+/kg. All my friends buy meat through me.


    Hi Friend...

  • twlangantwlangan Posts: 285
    IrishDevl said:
    You/we may all end up paying prices like that some day if animal rights fanatics get their way. And I don't care what anyone says, beef finished on grass will not be as good as grain fed. I do not fault the people producing grass fed beef though. I admire their willingness to go after that market. But I will stick with grain fed, well marbled, tasty, and tender beef vs tough stuff from a steer that took 3 years to "finish" on grass.  ;)
  • Try Gordon Food Services- $1.49/lb boneless, lump is $13 for a 20lb bag. Skip the mustard- the rub will stick on its own. In the end remember your getting quality food!!
  • smokesniffersmokesniffer Posts: 1,579
    Your absolutely right, it is terribly expensive, ship me your egg and I will take it off your hands, no charge. Not sure what I will do with it, but I feel it is my duty to help you out. :D ;) >:)
  • Shrinkage is a way of life when BBQing.  I recently did some whole rib roasts.   After I trimmed them and cooked them I ended up with 66% of what I started with.....and that was fairly lean beef. Thats why they charge you $24.95 for a good prime rib dinner at a restaurant.  I like cooking on the egg so much that I have been cooking and giving it away.  I cooked a couple of butts before Christmas and I never ate any of it.  some of it is in the freezer and some of it went to the neighbors.   It's funny......I seem to be getting along better with my neighbors since I got the EGG!
  • GQuizGQuiz Posts: 650
    It is amazing how well you're received when you're sporting a plate of something hot and fresh off the Egg. I have a neighbor offering to buy a roast or a rack of ribs for me to prepare for him the next time I fire the Egg up. That never happened on a gas grill.

    XL BGE; Schertz TX by way of Stow OH. #egghead4life
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    twlangan said:
    IrishDevl said:
    You/we may all end up paying prices like that some day if animal rights fanatics get their way. And I don't care what anyone says, beef finished on grass will not be as good as grain fed. I do not fault the people producing grass fed beef though. I admire their willingness to go after that market. But I will stick with grain fed, well marbled, tasty, and tender beef vs tough stuff from a steer that took 3 years to "finish" on grass.  ;)

    I am a fan of grass fed, with the last few months of life being grain fed to fatten it up as you say.  Maybe just me, but grass fed just seems to have a better beef taste.  I buy cows (well singular)  sometimes of someone who raises Scottish Highland.  Grass feeds until a few motnhs before slaughter, then grain feeds.  Beef is fantastic.   
  • twlangantwlangan Posts: 285
    edited January 2013
    IrishDevl said:
    twlangan said:
    IrishDevl said:
    You/we may all end up paying prices like that some day if animal rights fanatics get their way. And I don't care what anyone says, beef finished on grass will not be as good as grain fed. I do not fault the people producing grass fed beef though. I admire their willingness to go after that market. But I will stick with grain fed, well marbled, tasty, and tender beef vs tough stuff from a steer that took 3 years to "finish" on grass.  ;)

    I am a fan of grass fed, with the last few months of life being grain fed to fatten it up as you say.  Maybe just me, but grass fed just seems to have a better beef taste.  I buy cows (well singular)  sometimes of someone who raises Scottish Highland.  Grass feeds until a few motnhs before slaughter, then grain feeds.  Beef is fantastic.   
    Most beef breeds are raised that way. The trick to raising beef cattle is to "build a frame" with forages (grass) and then fatten them with grain. One of the exceptions to this are Holstein steers. Since they are predominately a dairy animal, they grow differently than the typical beefers. Holsteins can have corn poured to them nearly the whole time. Depending on the animal, they sometimes just keep getting bigger and bigger (frame wise) and are hard to finish. We took a Holstein steer in to butcher a few years ago that was like that - weighed over a ton and the locker plant thought he was going to collapse their tower that they hang them from to start the butchering process.

    On the flip side of Holsteins, you have those Highland cattle. They will finish out with little to no grain whatsoever. They will eat anything and gain on it - but are slow growers. I've never had Highland beef, but I hear it is great stuff. I have always wanted to try raising some - it is on my bucket list.  :)  Highland cattle are considered the least "evolved" of all cattle breeds. Their genetic backgrounds have had the least human interference throughout history. Holsteins are the opposite - the whole Holstein herd are inbred retards - but the cows milk like crazy. When we milked cows, it was not uncommon to have calves born that refused to nurse. We would lose a couple every year because they were too retarded to even have the instinct to survive!  LOL!

    More than any of you wanted to know about cattle, I'm sure - but there it is. I just happen to know a lot more about cattle than Egging.  :)
  • twlangantwlangan Posts: 285
    Ah, I forgot to mention - I have found a source for much cheaper pork butts. Every Wed, there is a food truck that serves lunch at the factory I work at as my "real job". They are hooked up with Cisco and said they can get them for something around $1.50/lb - plus a couple of bucks added for their handling. That truck - man, they serve GREAT home cooked meat-n-potatoes type meals for $5. As a farm boy, I patronize them religiously - sure beats crap from a vending machine. I'm one of their best customers!

    I have two more of those expensive devils in my freezer to use up yet - and then I'm gonna give the Cisco butts a try.
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,221
    Shrinkage is a way of life when BBQing.  I recently did some whole rib roasts.   After I trimmed them and cooked them I ended up with 66% of what I started with.....and that was fairly lean beef. Thats why they charge you $24.95 for a good prime rib dinner at a restaurant.  I like cooking on the egg so much that I have been cooking and giving it away.  I cooked a couple of butts before Christmas and I never ate any of it.  some of it is in the freezer and some of it went to the neighbors.   It's funny......I seem to be getting along better with my neighbors since I got the EGG!
    I'm here to tell you the shrinkage factor is huge in Canadian winters
    #:-S

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,881
    edited January 2013
    Maybe because we are Canadian and live in the GWN for at least 4 months a year, the best beef I've ever had were grass fed Herfords. Hell, the English invented real beef the way we know it, Henry the VIII loved the loin so much he knighted it, that's why we call it sirloin. The Herford is, I think a Brit breed. 25 years ago I had a 50 acre hobby farm, my neighbor ran 50 head of Herford on his 200 acre farm. I'de help him hay, he paid in 1/2 of beef. Best beef we've ever had. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
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