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Pork Butt Against the Clock

ChanningJohnsonChanningJohnson Posts: 40
edited December 2011 in Pork
I like to drive fast and take chances. So, I'm doing my first low and slow this weekend, overnight and with 12 people expecting to eat around 5 p.m. the next day. My butcher ordered a pork butt specifically for me. He told me to expect 8 lbs and I just picked up the 11 pound pork butt today. I'm a wedding photographer and won't get home from my wedding that night until probably 11:45 p.m. I'll have everything ready to go so I only have to light it, but if I get the meat on by 12:30 that will only be 17 hours at 5:30 p.m. 

I guess I'm going to be going forward with it no matter what and am prepared to kick it up to 300 degrees to finish it up if I have to. But what would those experienced do to make sure it was done in time while sacrificing as little possible. How early could I have my wife take the meat out to help it rise in temperature before it goes on the grill and hopefully shave off some time. 3 hours early? I don't like the idea of having my wife put in the oven on low for a couple of hours before I put it on the egg when I get home, but would do it if someone told me I wouldn't be sacrificing much. I was going to cook it for 250 for as long as possible. Do you think I could get away with lower temperature despite the time crunch?

Thanks so much for you help!

- Channing

Comments

  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102

    I would agree with setting it out early and 3 hrs sounds good to me.

    With the time crunch, I'd aim for 275º for the first 3 to 4 hrs and then dial 'er up to 300º

    You want to have some rest time before pulling, but you won't need to wrap in towels, just let it cool in the foil.

    Would be helpful if your wife could get the fire started about ½ hr before you get home too.

    I'm sure others here will chime in with other ideas .... Good luck!

    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,886
    I think if its rubbed, and under plastic, it should be fine sitting out at room temperature for several hours. That will probably drop an hour off the cooking time. You could shave a little more time off by popping it into a 180 oven for the last half hour while the Egg comes to temperature.

    There are people who do butts as high as 350, and report good results. I've had a number that were cooking for hours at 300 by accident, and they turned out fine. If the internal temperature isn't above 170 at 15 hours, ramp the heat up.

    I did try foiling and cooking at 350 for 6 hours on one occasion. The bottom of the butt sat in the rendered fat and rub, and so was a chewy slab, but the rest of the meat was O.K., although the bark was inferior, even after being exposed to the hot air for the last 45 min.
  • Most of the smoke flavor that defines the bark on a Boston Butt is absorbed during the first part of the cook while the butt is at a low temperature.  So, I would start the cook fairly low (no higher than 275 dome) and then raise it up after giving the smoke a few hours to do its job.  Leaving it out ahead of time will also reduce cook time but may also reduce the smokey flavor.  This can be a good thing depending on how much smoke you like (I like as much as possible, but some like almost none).  I would definitely recomend cleaning out the ash from the egg to insure efficient airflow since you don't want anything to hold your fire back.  Also, pre-load the egg with charcoal and see if someone can light it for you 20-30 minutes before you will arrive.  That way, you can get the egg up to temp much faster. 

    Butts are very forgiving, so don't be scared to crank up the temperature near the end to 350 or even higher.  Most of the flavor has already been achieved at that point and all you are doing is getting the core up to the desired temperature.  Good luck!

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    taking it out early won't help much.  it's a block of cold meat.  a steak left at room temp for an hour still never hits room temp.

    into the egg cold (you want a smoke ring, dontcha? ...even though it is just for looks), and the 300 degree dome temp will do more to get the meat up to temp more quickly than 3 hours on the counter
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • I feel something approaching [-O<

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • I was right

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited December 2011
    @chemicalengineer...

    "Most of the smoke flavor that defines the bark on a Boston Butt is
    absorbed during the first part of the cook while the butt is at a low
    temperature. " 

    not so. that's a common myth-conception (to coin a word).

    smoke flavor is deposited whenever there is smoke, at any temperature of the meat or cooker, and at any time.

    smoke ring is the only thing that forms early while the meat is still cold.  but that's formed by a chemical process which ceases whenever the meat (and only the meat at the surface, not the interior) is 140 or so.  the longer the surface of the meat is cold, the hypothesis goes, the longer the ring can form, and the further into the meat it can go.  but it has nothing whatever to do with smoke flavor, and whether it is being absorbed or not (and smoke isn't really absorbed anyway. it lands on the surface)

    the flavor of smoke itself doesn't care about time or temps

    (that what you were looking for steven?)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Pretty much

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited December 2011
    my first reply didn't address it, but i see now i can't let the fans down.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • We depend on you oh Oracle. BTW what's with the pic of David Byrne as your profile?

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    That's not me. It's someone else in his garden in Halifax
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Kinda pencil necked no?

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Hey Stike, I'm gonna need you to start citing sources. Cause this is like reading a science magazine.

    Thanks


    Paul
    thebearditspeaks.com. Go there. I write it.
  • paul,

    The Oracle is all knowing. In other words, he don't need no stinking sources...he is the source of all.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    @paul heels...  it's pretty straightforward stuff.  check out the old decrepit ancient forum which is so behind the times no one likes it at all.  because all the real info is there.  it ain't shiny and new, but it has the goods.  no one is guessing randomly over there.
    :)>-
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Nope, smoke flavor accumulates as long as there is smoke present in the cooking chamber.  You can increase the amount of smoke that adheres to the meat by keeping the surface moist, and of course, while a piece of meat is still cold, there will be some condensation on its surface, but essentially smoke flavors build during the entire cook as long as you have smoke present.
    The Naked Whiz
  • Thanks for all the advice everyone! I have enough different opinions here to give me confidence that whichever I pick will be just fine : ) 

    If Stike's observation holds true that the meat won't raise in temperature much on the counter anyway, I think I'll err on the side of putting it on the counter for a couple of hours to be able to put it in slightly warmer to get a fraction longer cooking time at a lower temperature before I have to crank up the heat. I'd rather retain moisture than smoke. If smokiness comes from the presence of smoke at anytime in the cook I think I'll just add more hickory chunks. Perhaps what I'll be missing from condensation at the beginning can be compensated with more hickory (either at the beginning or adding more later or both). I have more hickory than time.

    It sounds like any of this will likely achieve imperceptible differences. Particularly for my Yankee in-laws who may or may not have ever had a pulled pork sandwich before : ) I'll let you know how it all goes. Even if it means ordering pizza delivery.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    cook it at 300 and quit worrying about it.  300 is still low, and still slow.  just not as slow

    it isn't merely speculation that 300 wouldn't be an issue, there are many folks who cook at 300 as a matter of course, and it affects quality not at all negatively.  and they'd even say it HELPS.


    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • ChanningJohnsonChanningJohnson Posts: 40
    edited December 2011
    It worked! My wife took the 11lb pork butt out of the refrigerator, and it sat on the counter for 2 hours before I put it on the egg at midnight. I went to bed at 3 a.m. after I was confident the temperature was stabilized. It was at 275 when I went to bed and at 8 a.m. it was at 225. Averaged about 250 for the rest of the day and in the last hour I put it up to 300. Took it off at 4:30 p.m. at 195 internal. Let it rest for an hour in tin foil with a few layers of dish towels on top. My in-laws speak the truth, whether you want to hear it or not, so when they raved about how good it tasted I believed them.

    I'll do some things differently next time, like get to bed at a reasonable hour. But you guys are right, this is a forgiving piece of meat. Thanks so much for everyone's help!!

    image
  • Very Cool Picture. Love that smoke, bet the neighbours kept waking up to an awesome aroma. 
    Large, small, and a mini
  • Too many rocket scientist on here for me but I didn't see any mention of getting the 11 lb butt cut in half. I think 17 hours would be plenty of time to slow cook (2) 5.5 lb pork butts.
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