Ok, so disaster is probably a strong word. Big disappointment is a bit more appropriate. I used Adam Perry Lang's recipe from Serious Barbecue. Apparently it took top prize in a major competition, so I figured the results would be pretty excellent. I've cooked loads from his book and had nothing but absolutely stellar results with every recipe until last night. Anyway, I bought an 8 pound pork butt and I followed his directions. I ended up with a mediocre-flavored, incredibly rubbery--to the point that it wouldn't pull at all and I wondered whether it was cooked all the way through--piece of meat. What I did was as follows:
First, I injected it with a brine. I had never injected a brine before, and he didn't specify quite how much to use. So I just filled the syringe to capacity (1 ounce) for each squirt, and I injected in a checkerboard pattern with each injection spaced about 1 1/2 inches all over the butt. The pattern was specified in the book, but not the spacing, so the 1 1/2 inches was kind of me taking a stab at it. The book says to let the butt sit for 2 hours at room temperature after injecting the brine. I have a two week old baby at the moment and got consumed with quelling a scream-storm he was having, so I let it sit for 3 hours instead of 2. That was my first deviation from the recipe, and perhaps my first mistake. Can over-brining from either injecting too much or letting the brine sit too long cause rubbery, bad meat?
Next step was to throw it on the egg at 250 for about three hours or until internal reaches 130. I got the temp stable and threw it on. While it was cooking, I had to tend to lots of stuff (mostly newborn related). When I came back to check on it nearly three hours later, the temp had dropped to 200. So that was deviation number two, and perhaps also a contributor to the lackluster final product.
I adjusted the temp back to 250, sprayed an apple juice spray on it as directed and let it go for another couple hours until internal reached about 160. At that point, I pulled it, wrapped it in foil and covered it in a wrapping mixture of brown sugar, honey, butter and mustard. Put it back in and let it go until it reached 193.
This part was a little strange: The book specified that you ought to hit the stall between 160 to 193, and it would take 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get there. I had my egg set to about 270 (temp had climbed a touch), and there was no stall. The temp just rose without pause until it hit 193. Only took about an hour. At that point I followed the recipe to the finish.
Like I said, the final product was very rubbery, and it had none of the unctuous qualities you expect from a properly cooked butt. It wasn't juicy and succulent, and it didn't fall apart. Because there was no stall, I wondered whether there was a problem converting the collagen to gelatin. I also wondered (like I mentioned above) whether it was an issue with the brining--either over-brining or letting the brine sit an hour too long before cooking. Last thing it might be is the fact that it cooked at 200 instead of 250 for the first 3 hours. Anyway, what do you all think? Would really like to avoid having this sort of thing happen again.