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My first pork butt on the BGE

pumbagasmanpumbagasman Posts: 11
edited December 2011 in EggHead Forum
Hey everyone,

This is my first day with my prized smoker and to christen it I purchased a 9 lb bone in pork butt from the local meat market
I took it and covered it in mustard and then a rub from a local guy here in northwest Arkansas. I also added a bit of brown sugar. I have two maple wood chunks that I soaked in water for about two to 3 hours on my coals right now. 

I started at around 4:30 and got my coals nice and lit in about 10 minutes. Super easy. Once I got my coals lit and the fire rolling I through down my plate setter and drip pan, then the grill. I got my temperature to a smooth 230 Fahrenheit before putting my butt on there. It has been about 5 hours now and the temperature just slipped to 210. Luckily I checked on it before the temp went to low. 

My question is should I leave it alone and get some rest or should I routinely check on it?


  • If it were me I would check on it periodically.  My first couple of butt cooks were kind of all over the place until I figured out how much lump to put in, how to dial in the temp just right, etc.  Sometimes the lump may need a jiggle to open up the air holes for longer cooks.
  • BakerManBakerMan Posts: 159
    You should load up the firebox before you go to bed, stabilize the temperature and let it cook over night.  I just cooked a 7.5 pounder a few days ago and it took over 20 hours @ 220 dome temp to get to 195.  If you have a temperature probe inserted and watch the internal temp you will see it plateau and hold the same temp for several hours.  Once you get the internal temp to 195, pulled the meat, wrap in foil, wrap in a couple of towels and place in an empty cooler for a couple of hours before pulling the porrk.
    BakerMan - Purcellville, VA "When its smokin' its cookin', when its black its done"
  • well it jumped up to 240 and i tweaked it a bit to get it to 230, does it matter really between 220-250 where it sits?
  • It doesn't matter that butt is very forgiving on temp.   You are good as long as you are in the general range.  Purists might say different but my little experience says there is not much difference.
  • thank you! 12 more hours to go!
  • Good luck and good eating.  Be prepared for the meat temp to move really slowly when you get to the "plateau".  I read about it from so many sources but still panicked when it happened the first time.  The meat will get to a certain temp and seem to not move for hours, then it starts creeping up slowly, and then you are done.  I still bump the temp up to 300 towards the end, when the meat gets to 185...I'm too impatient.

    I cook at about 235 average grill temp and it takes about 2 hours per pound regularly for me.

    Be sure and post how it went afterwards.
  • will do. I am anxiously awaiting going to bed but my temp keeps moving from 240 down to 210 and im trying to find the perfect vent positions so I can go to bed.

    I almost want to just stay here all night drinking beer but its just not in the cards for me tonight.

  • Ok so I pretty much just salvaged my pork butt here in the 7th hour. I was about to go to bed, looked at my temp and it was sitting at 210. I then tried all i could to raise the temp but to no avail.

    So I thought about what one of you had sad and I decided to add some coal to the fire because Ill be honest I was afraid it was out.

    I took my grill off, kept the butt on there. Then I looked at the fire box and to no surprise it was almost dead. I was like wtf.

    Anyways I spread out my existing coals and filled up the fire box again. and got that thing rolling again. I am now back at 230-235 and am going to be up probably an hour to make sure I stabilize then sleep till probably 4 then be at it the rest of the morning till 11.

    anyways glad I double checked before going to bed.
  • It shouldn't have done that.  Did you fill up to the top of the firebox or higher to begin?
  • nowhere near the place setter if thats what you mean. Now i am stuck at 250 and cant get it back down into my prime cooking temp. Any thoughts? right now the bottom is shut and the top is slightly cracked on the daisy
  • hmmm.  We may have to call in some experts here.  If you are using the dome thermometer for temp 250 will be fine.  On my large, I leave the top vent open about 1/8" and the bottom open about 1/4" or so and it will maintain 250 or so dome for many hours.  One thing to remember is that it does have to have some air to maintain temp; if you close off bottom you are closing off all air.

    It is tempting to try and dial in an exact temp but very hard to do as the temp will fluctuate as the fire burns.  I wouldn't worry about the 250 dome temp or even a little higher. 

    But...maybe someone with far more experience than me will join in.
  • I like the information found at Naked Whiz...a lot of great information on the site.

  • hogaholichogaholic Posts: 225
    edited December 2011
    Not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I have done many long cooks including several butt cooks.

    I used to try and cook butts at 225 but finally decided, as many folks here advise, to cook them at 250 and forget about 225.  The butts don't know the difference those 25 degrees make, I'll assure you.  It seems much easier (at least for me) to maintain a temp of 250 without a lot of fuss.  That just seems to be a sweet spot for my BGE.  225 is a temp that is too close to a point where the fire is so low it is in danger of going out.  I would advise you to let it run at 250 and get some sleep.

    It sounds like you didn't put enough lump in the egg to start with.  I am easily able to go 20-22 hours on one load of lump.  That is more than enough time for me to cook three butts at 250. 

    My routine is to start the fire (lighting in only one place, right in the middle) around 5pm and get it stabilized at 250 with the platesetter and drip pan with water in there.  Meanwhile my butts have been setting on the counter for a couple hours coming up in temp.  Once the egg is stable I put the meat on, insert the probes of my two temp monitors, and wait to make sure the dome temp comes back to 240-250.  When it does I go to bed or whatever but I don't fuss over the cook because I feel confident nothing is going to happen.  When I go back out there early the next morning it will be right there at 250 or so.

    One more piece of advice - when the outside (bark) of the butts gets to a degree of doneness that I am looking for I wrap the butts in foil an to prevent any further cooking of the bark.  At that point you are essentially through and you are just waiting for the internal temp to hit 195.  You really don't need a thermopen with butts because when that blade bone can be pulled out with very little effort then, rest assured, the meat is done.
    Jackson, Tennessee. VFL (Vol for Life)
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,914
    edited December 2011
    Yup, higher temps are the way to go.  I use a Maverick ET-73 or DigiQ to monitor overnight temps and I set it at 235 grid level temp.  That's a good 250 or more at the dome.  I put the Butts on at midnight (8-9 lbs) and and go to bed and they are ready for lunch at noon. (11-12 hours max.).
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • Thanks guys for all the help.

    I just successfully pulled my pork butt off the smoker at a smooth 195.

    I eventually got the temperature to stabilize at 240 before going to bed around 12:45. I woke up at 5 just to check the temp and it was holding steady at 245. Went back to bed and then checked it at 7:00 it was at 195. I luckily slept through the meat plateau and didnt have to worry about that.

    The butt literally fell apart while removing it from the egg. I guess thats a good sign of how moist and tender it is. I have it wrapped with saran wrap and foil and put it in my cooler about 20 minutes ago. I will be pulling it around 11:30 and eating some delicious rookie pork butt.

    All in all I feel it was a success. i learned some valuable lessons about starting my flame, having the right amount of coal and then how to properly stabilize.

    I know I still have a lot of learning to do, but the fact that this thing reached temperature, is very tender and smells like a dream makes me really excited about my future with the egg.
  • Congratulations.  I will bet it is the best pulled pork you have ever eaten!
  • Its phenomenal! I just pulled it off the bone and the bone was as clean as a whistle. The meat was tender and juicy. I am about ready to dominate 2 sandwhiches of the goods.
  • Pumb, you'll always remember your first time.

    Hope you enjoyed the process and the meat.  Over time you'll learn the personality of your egg and what works for the two of you.  You'll eventually get to the point where you'll have to do very little to no tinkering during the cooking process.  First time I did a 20 hour pork shoulder and only had to touch the daisy once was a great feeling.
  • Pumb, you'll always remember your first time.

    Hope you enjoyed the process and the meat.  Over time you'll learn the personality of your egg and what works for the two of you.  You'll eventually get to the point where you'll have to do very little to no tinkering during the cooking process.  First time I did a 20 hour pork shoulder and only had to touch the daisy once was a great feeling.
    Very much agree. Happy that everything turned out great pumbagasman!
  • Sounds like it turned out great.

    As others have said, 250 is the way to go.  Easy to get there and to maintain.
  • Cooking on the egg is part science but it also significantly part art (which is part of its appeal to me).  Don't get too hung up on times and temperatures--anywhere in the 200-250 range is fine.    Experience is the best teacher and low and slow is a very forgiving process.  When the outside has a thick beautiful crust, the meat has significantly receded off of the bone, and the bone easily wiggles your butt is done (same for ribs too).  I have never used a thermometer for ribs, butts, chicken, steak or brisket and aside from a few mistakes as a new egger it has never failed me.  Going by many of the posts I've been reading on this forum for the last decade or so one would think it is necessary to plan a week in advance with all sorts of whirly-gigs and special sauces and marinades.  Not so.  Armed with olive oil, cracked pepper, and kosher salt one can prepare meat that rivals anything I have cooked as a steakhouse grill-man or eaten in all but the highest-end restaurants. 

    Most importantly, surround yourself with friends, crack a beer, tell lies, experiment and have fun.    
  • GriffinGriffin Posts: 7,673

    Glad it came out ok.

    Eggs don't really like to stay lit at 225. I'd go with 250 at least from now on if I were you. But I run mine 275 to 300 and they turn out great.

    And just to make Tweev mad (while holding up my arms to block neck shots).... I post temps at grid (and dome, but specify which). Lots of us use probes like the Maverick and like to know grid temperature.

    Rowlett, Texas

    Griffin's Grub or you can find me on Facebook

    The Supreme Potentate, Sovereign Commander and Sultan of Wings


  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    I really want to punch the guy in the face who came up with the idea of cooking butts at 225. It's stupid. Makes holding temp difficult (at least for new eggers) and does nothing positive for the finished product. Also I'd like to punch the dude in the neck who reports temps at grid. That's stupid too dome temp is where most peoples thermometer is and is good enough.

    Butts should be cooked between 250 - 300 with none in that range better than any other I consider myself an expert.

    Tell us how you really feel.
  • I've always achieved fantastic results at 200 with brisket, ribs, butts, etc.  As far as not holding at 225?  I've never experienced that.  Temp control, on my egg at least, becomes more of an issue above 500 degrees.  I can hold anything from 200-450 without any problems.  Every egg, however, is different. 

    Hope I'm not cooking pork at 225 within punching range.  I'm a lover not a fighter... 

  • bigguy136bigguy136 Posts: 1,161
    I just picked up a couple of butts for this weekend. I have a Stoker temp controller. I should have no problem picking any temp so should I do 225°?

    Big Lake, Minnesota

    2X Large BGE, 1 Mini Max, Stokers, Adjustable Rig

  • I shoot for 200--I'm not ever in a hurry I guess.  225 works and I frequently even out there.  So does 250. 
  • If you cook at cook at 200-225 that means your grid temp is 170-205. It's kind of hard getting meat to 195-200 degrees when it's sitting on a grid at 180. In fact it's impossible.That's why it takes someone(see above) 20 hrs to cook a 7 1/2 lb butt When you read bbq or cooking books and they give a cooking temp the guage on your egg should be 20-25 degrees above that.
  • bigguy136bigguy136 Posts: 1,161
    I guess with the Stokers system I'm using, temp is taken about 1" above the grid.

    Big Lake, Minnesota

    2X Large BGE, 1 Mini Max, Stokers, Adjustable Rig

  • If you cook at cook at 200-225 that means your grid temp is 170-205. It's kind of hard getting meat to 195-200 degrees when it's sitting on a grid at 180. In fact it's impossible.
    Exactly, that's why people need to understand the difference between dome and grid temp.  You don't cook your meat in the upper dome, so who cares what the temp is up there.  Your meat is on the grid, you need to know what the temp is at grid level.
    Having said that, if your not cooking Butt or Brisket or other similar meat where you take it up to 195-200, it doesn't really matter.  A 25 degree difference on higher temp cooks like chicken, turkey, pizza, steak, ect  will make no difference.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • bigguy136,

    Exactly. With something like a Stoker or BBQ Guru you are programming the temp at the grid. If you're not using one of those you need your dome gauge to be about 25 degrees higher than the desired cooking temp on the grid.

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