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First Butt = FAIL

hotsaucehotsauce Posts: 14
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
So, I attempted my first Boston Butt last night. Had it all prepared, mustard, butt rub and all. I put a good bit of BGE charcoal in the fire box (3/4 full) and lit it up. After they heated up pretty good, I put the plate setter and grate in.

Got the temp to a pretty stable 220, then I put the butt on around 9pm last night, planning on a 19 hr cook (8.5 lb butt).

Checked the temps a few times, up 'till midnight. Holding steady at 220. No wind at all, outside temp around 48 degrees. Went to sleep.

Woke up this morning, ran downstairs, only to discover an ice cold egg. :pinch:

Not sure what happened...I had everything going as planned. I researched for hours on how to do this right, and clearly it didn't work.

Lesson learned? All I know is I ordered a Maverick ET-73 as of 9am today.







  • In the 3rd picture, is the daisy wheel all closed except for the little gap in the "petals"

    You lost the fire for lack of air flow. Either ash clogges the grate and firehold or it was chocked down too much at the top. The bottom setting looks correct. My guess is ash.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,168
    Two key points I see in your post are "pretty stable" and 220*.

    Before you add your meat it should be rock solid stable or you risk temp fluctuations up or down throughout the cook.

    And why would you try to cook them at 220*. If you read the posts here almost universally folks recommend 250* for a low and slow cook.

    Next time I would suggest you set it for 250*, make sure it is set there, and then keep an eye on it every coupld hours. Before long cooks like this will be like riding a bike for you.
  • Thanks for the reply. I took a better photo of the daisy wheel...I had a pretty good gap, no? I based this configuration off of photos shown here (visual temp thread).

    Maybe I just had too much ash? I cleaned the firebox completely before filling with new lump.

  • Fidel wrote:
    And why would you try to cook them at 220*. If you read the posts here almost universally folks recommend 250* for a low and slow cook.
    I followed the Naked Whiz's instructions:

    There are, of course, a million ways to do a butt. I just picked the Whiz for my first attempt.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,168
    I am certainly not one to argue with the advice of the whiz, but I can tell you that a fire holding at 250* is much easier to maintain and much less likely to go out overnight than one burning at 220*.

    Try it a bit higher next time and hopefully you'll see the same thing. I can promise you will not be able to tell the difference in the final result (and it will cook a bit faster as a bonus).
  • Thanks Rod. I'll try that next time. Good thing that butts are cheap!
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,399
    Even w. a Maverick, be prepared to wake every four hours, just to peek at the temp. Its a real pain going out at 3 a.m. and trying to rebuild a fire that has gone out. Not so much if its just starting to cool, and only needs some stirring.

    I'm not sure from the Whiz's page if he means 220 grill temp, or 220 dome. At the beginning of a cook, a dome temp of 250 will be accompanied by a grill temp of about 225. Right next to the meat, the air will be more like 160. As the hours pass, everything gets to about the same temperature.

    With a dome temp of 220, there isn't a lot of time to catch the fire if it starts to go out. Likewise, a fire that cool can be just from a few lumps, and if the fire happens to not travel from lump to lump, say bye bye to the cook.

    For me, the most common loss of fire is one that burns right down the center, leaving 3/4 of the lump around the edge unburnt. As mentioned above, I saw the Maverick reading 160, and there were so few embers still going that even stirred, the lump only got the dome back to 180 after an hour.

    So I stuck a MAPP gas weed burner along the side of the grill, and gave it a blast. Saved!
  • I agree with Rod. I would be willing to bet out of the last 20 post I've read of an unsuccessful butt, about 18 of them have been trying to cook below 250 dome. The other two was posting about how long to let the butt go until they pulled because they were at 20+ hours and were still in plateau. Most people here will use 250 dome for their target. This only gets you maybe 210-220 grate. When at 220 dome you're at maybe 190 grate. 190 grate temp puts you well over 2 hours per pound If of coarse your fire doesn't go out. By no means am I saying the egg can't cook at 220 dome all night, but your fire has to be built perfect (all big pieces protecting the holes) and you need to be ready for a long cook if you have a 7+ pounder. Good luck with your next one.
  • EggtuckyEggtucky Posts: 2,746
    Sounds like you mighta run out of lump, but if it wasnt it, the other thing I see is until I got my DigiQII, I never left the egg for more than 3 hours without checking things...this way, if you do start to lose it, you can make corrections and not lose your said you went to bed at midnight and no mention of checking it again until you woke up this missed half the fun gettin up at 3am and checking the fire! :laugh:
  • I agree if you are leaving the BGE unattended the DigiQII will keep the temp right on the mark.
  • I agree with you. I slept a whole lot better once I got my auto temp controller. (I use a Stoker).

    Before that I used a Maverick that would alarm if the temp went too low, though I usually woke up every 2 or 3 hours anyway...
  • "I put a good bit of BGE charcoal in the fire box (3/4 full)....."

    Why only 3/4 full? Fill up the fire box and then add more charcoal to 1/2 way up the fire ring. that will give you 20+ hrs at 250 degrees.
  • jagweedjagweed Posts: 188
    ...and there's no sense checking the egg every ten minutes before going to bed. better to hit the sack and check once at 4 am if you need to. an ice cold egg at 4am is far different than an ice cold agg at 8 am.....
  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    Or maybe the BBQ Gods where trying to tell you that prepared mustard isnt a rub. :evil: Just Kidding, to each his own.

    I do overnight cooks often at 250. I do get up once during the middle of the night.

    A little trick I have learned... before I go to bed and check Egg temp one more time beforehand, I open the lower vent a tiny increment more. This way if the temp is gonna move in any direction, the likelihood of it being "up" is a little greater....maybe. If I awake half way though and its at 350 Im still in business. So far, mine have always stayed pegged at 250.
  • I'm going with ash clogging also.

    For overnight cooks I always separate out and build the lump from large to small paying particular attention to making voids above the vent holes in the firebox.
    I start by setting foil out to the side and scoop the leftover charcoal out of the egg and clean out the ash. After loading the fresh larger pieces, I spread the leftovers on top. The Maverick provides good piece of mind as well
    LBGE w/modified Whiz table, Webers and such.
  • BordelloBordello Posts: 5,926
    You did fine researching how to do the cook, unfortunately it did not go as expected, sorry to hear that. What you might want to do when doing a first time cook (mostly low & slow) is put your plan together and then "Before" you do it post your intended method on the forum. :)

    Then if there is a flaw in it hopefully someone here will bring it to your attention. I often come to ask for advice and I've been here for several years. Hope you have a successful cook on the next try.

    Good Luck,

  • That is one of the MOST helpful suggestions about low and slow that I have ever seen!

    You are the King of Common Sense!

    San Diego
    Judy in San Diego
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