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Cooked 8 butts the last week or so (aka Love letter to salt)

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BlueRidgeSmokers
BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
edited June 2023 in Pork
Cooked pork, chicken and tri-tip (beef) for ~100 on June 16, then pork for about as many on June 24. I used to slave over pork butts and now all I do is:
  1. Inject butts with ~ 0.5% salt by weight (this is the magic here)
  2. Rest at least 2 hours in cold, pat dry
  3. Season well with 3 parts EAT Zero To Hero + 1 part EAT The Most Powerful Stuff, let sweat
  4. Cook at 280F for 6-7 hours without lifting the lid, I slept like a baby both times (trigger warning: using a Stoker II)
  5. Slather with softened butter, cook another hour or so, not critical
  6. Wrap/cover in pan to finish around 195F internal temp (a little less if holding longer)
4 butts in each cook this time, held in Coleman for 2-3 hours first cook, and 5 hours second cook. Literally some of the laziest cooking I've been doing and people beg me for the recipe. Honestly, I think steps 3-6 aren't that critical and you can do most whatever you want there (see below about S&P) - it's that internal seasoning that takes it home.

Example: 4 butts, 28.7 lbs of pork, that's 13,000 grams. Add 800 grams for water, calculate 0.5% (13800g * 0.005) and get 70g. Weigh 70g of whatever non-iodized salt you have (we all have gram scales, right?), mix that into 800ml cold water, inject 200ml per butt throughout. Chill those butts 2+ hours and the magic happens. Because the salt level is below the target range of 1-2%, you still rub as usual, and don't rinse the butts, just pat them dry. BTW this is just an equilibrium brine, but injected to speed things up.

Also, the second cook was my youngest daughter's wedding, I had a guest with a garlic allergy, I did one butt with salt + black pepper + paprika for rub. I could tell which one it was but maybe a lot of people wouldn't.

Chicken: equilibrium brine is essential.

Comments

  • lkapigian
    lkapigian Posts: 10,924
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    Sounds Amazing, glad I’m not the one weighing salt 
    Visalia, Ca @lkapigian
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
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    lkapigian said:
    Sounds Amazing, glad I’m not the one weighing salt 
    Doesn't everyone have a gram scale in their kitchen?  =) I got it when I started using disodium inosinate and guanylates, have to be accurate around 200-300mg. Regular kitchen scale won't do. I mostly use it for morning coffee, though.

  • OxfordJaguar69
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    Magic salt.  Sigh.  You Americans just love to complicate things and then claim to invent them, I was never good with maths.

    It all sounds wonderful though, don't mind me.


    I love my eggs almost as I love my Jaguar.
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
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    Magic salt.  Sigh.  You Americans just love to complicate things and then claim to invent them, I was never good with maths.

    It all sounds wonderful though, don't mind me.
    To be fair, I invented salt whilst living in Milton Keynes in my youth. Had to do something to fill all the time the local was closed and after Radio One shut down.



  • Canugghead
    Canugghead Posts: 11,701
    edited June 2023
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    I tried Chris Lilly injection once, recall it was better than usual. Your salt only injection sounds simpler. Couple of questions, how did you arrive at 800 grams water? What did you do with the extra 70 grams brine?
    Edit: and congrats on your youngest daughter's wedding
    canuckland
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
    edited June 2023
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    The basic idea is to use enough water to fully dissolve the salt before injecting, but not much more because a butt will only hold so much liquid. 200ml, ~3/4 cup, is pretty good. The 70g of salt is much more dense than water so the total volume of brine/injection is only a little more. The water is really just there to get the salt into the butt. For a single butt, ~17g salt and 200ml water will suffice. Measuring salt by weight means you don't to worry about the type of salt (flake vs rock vs granular, which can be nearly 2:1 range of density).

  • Canugghead
    Canugghead Posts: 11,701
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    Gotcha, thanks.
    canuckland
  • paqman
    paqman Posts: 4,683
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    what’s your method for the chicken?

    ____________________
    Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. •Niccolo Machiavelli
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
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    paqman said:
    what’s your method for the chicken?
    Straight-up equilibrium brining to ~0.5% for pieces. Example: 10 lbs of pieces is 4540 grams, let's use 1000ml water, that's total weight 5540g, weigh out 28g of salt, mix into the water, add to the pieces, put it all in the fridge.

    The amount of water isn't critical as long as it is enough to cover all the pieces fully in whatever container is used, more is better than less.

    Ideally, you exclude the weight of bones when weighing the chicken; for boneless pieces, this isn't a factor at all, even for bone-in pieces it's not that big of a deal, since this brine is under 1%, and you're going to season a little more when cooking anyway.

    Minimum time in brine is a few hours for small/boneless pieces, maximum time is however long you care to hold it in the fridge. There's no danger of over-brining.

    Whole birds - I use 1% of bird + water weight, again ignoring the bone weight. This means the bird will end-up maybe 1.25% or so. This is probably ideal for most people, but I still season the exterior skin-deep. Minimum soak time is overnight, I'll go a day or two if I plan ahead. Maximum time is however long you keep a chicken cold.

    There's no need to rinse the chicken since residual brine is the same salt level as the inside. I just pat dry. You can leave the pieces in brine right up until you need them, maybe pour off the excess when you start cooking.

    You can find a bunch of web pages and videos explaining equilibrium brining. I don't add sugar in general - it's there to promote browning on the exterior and I get that from the rub.

    Some people promote dry-brining, and that works just the same, except you leave out the water. They say the resulting flavor is a little more concentrated because you don't absorb additional water, and the texture is a little firmer. I've tried it and it's OK but easy to get uneven brining if you don't wait longer.


  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    Options

    Edit: and congrats on your youngest daughter's wedding
    Thank you! It was really a special evening. 
  • lkapigian
    lkapigian Posts: 10,924
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    lkapigian said:
    Sounds Amazing, glad I’m not the one weighing salt 
    Doesn't everyone have a gram scale in their kitchen?  =) I got it when I started using disodium inosinate and guanylates, have to be accurate around 200-300mg. Regular kitchen scale won't do. I mostly use it for morning coffee, though.

    I dry brine 1% boneless 1.25% bone in ( large cuts only , tritip is about the smallest I do this on ) fleur de sel only ....1-2 days ahead , huge difference .....
    Visalia, Ca @lkapigian
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
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    lkapigian said:
    lkapigian said:
    Sounds Amazing, glad I’m not the one weighing salt 
    Doesn't everyone have a gram scale in their kitchen?  =) I got it when I started using disodium inosinate and guanylates, have to be accurate around 200-300mg. Regular kitchen scale won't do. I mostly use it for morning coffee, though.

    I dry brine 1% boneless 1.25% bone in ( large cuts only , tritip is about the smallest I do this on ) fleur de sel only ....1-2 days ahead , huge difference .....

    Other than non-iodized, I'm not picky about my salt in general, but I'd probably be inclined toward fleur de sel or Kosher for dry-brining if I did it more often. Haven't dry-brined a tri-tip yet (other than letting The Most Powerful Stuff sweat a bit; maybe I'll leave one in the fridge overnight next time, thanks for the nudge).

    Like you say, brining is a huge improvement. 
  • Canugghead
    Canugghead Posts: 11,701
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    Edit: and congrats on your youngest daughter's wedding
    Thank you! It was really a special evening. 
    Kudos for pulling this off. When our kids got married few years ago, they wouldn't even let me cook after dinner snacks, says a lot about how much they trust my cooking  :) 
    canuckland
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
    edited June 2023
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    Edit: and congrats on your youngest daughter's wedding
    Thank you! It was really a special evening. 
    Kudos for pulling this off. When our kids got married few years ago, they wouldn't even let me cook after dinner snacks, says a lot about how much they trust my cooking  :) 
    Many thanks. Truth be told, this was the second of two daughters and both requested a BBQ reception by me (which is really flattering) but Mom wasn't hearing one second of that story. First daughter in 2015, I asked around a bit and was pleasantly surprised and a little overwhelmed when 5 of the best cooks I know (you've seen a couple on TV and they all have been to The Jack) came and did a ribs/prime rib reception for the history books.

    I got yelled at for spending too much time at the smoker before I had to do Father of the Bride things.

    This time, the logistics were easier and I got to do the pork and prep the chicken and beef. I've cooked with the families that provided the winery venue many times and Mom was comfortable with our dear friend doing the grilling and sides, he knocked it out of the park.

    It's seriously too bad they didn't involve you in the culinary program - there's something about family cooking, but weddings can be like that. We were so fortunate.

    Thanks again. I'm out of daughters, so it's just winery parties in the future LOL
  • lousubcap
    lousubcap Posts: 32,806
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    I'm in the "throw $$$$ at it and then enjoy" approach. 
    I have two sons so the $$$$ throw was/is cheap compared to the other side of the equation.
    But the oldest now has 3 daughters so he will eventually figure it out and go broke in the process.  B)
    Louisville; Rolling smoke in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!  Seems I'm livin in a transitional period.
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
    edited June 2023
    Options
    lousubcap said:
    I'm in the "throw $$$$ at it and then enjoy" approach. 
    I have two sons so the $$$$ throw was/is cheap compared to the other side of the equation.
    But the oldest now has 3 daughters so he will eventually figure it out and go broke in the process.  B)
    I'm just gonna say it was good parenting  luck that our daughters didn't put us in the poorhouse and we had a couple of amazing weddings. Incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by good people, too.

    Lord have mercy on your son.
  • lousubcap
    lousubcap Posts: 32,806
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    All things considered I likely should not be on the planet when the blood letting begins.  Ages 4, 2 and 2 months.
    Never mind the wedding deal, the high drama and emotional hamburger in front of his family is gonna be one he!! of a ride.  But they are young so there's that! B) However, I am quite sure the parents will very quickly age. 

    Louisville; Rolling smoke in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!  Seems I'm livin in a transitional period.
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
    edited June 2023
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    Yeah, I wonder if I'll see my youngest grandkid finish high school. The clock ticks.

    Also, it was shortly after the birth of our youngest that I started turning grey, and around the time she graduated high school I jumped over the cliff into full Sam Waterston mode. At least I still have it all.

    (That's not me in my profile photo  =) )
  • lousubcap
    lousubcap Posts: 32,806
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    I got tired of it all (however minimal it became) around 10 years ago and now shave/polish the dome no less frequently than every other day.  The father of the daughters has been head shaving for 15 years.  Friggin genes- =)
    Louisville; Rolling smoke in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!  Seems I'm livin in a transitional period.
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    BlueRidgeSmokers Posts: 105
    edited June 2023
    Options
    I can't play a note to save my life but people still ask me if I am Michael McDonald. I mean, what a fool believes, right? No wise man has the power.

    Edit: lately I'm being asked about Jerry Garcia.
  • YukonRon
    YukonRon Posts: 17,038
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    Thank you for sharing, I found it to be a very interesting read. I do about 24 butts/year. 

    The work to get a pork butt, seemingly one of the most forgiving cooks available for us, to turn out exquisite, is monumental task. Just one question; Do you brine the pork butt? It is part of my process, which delivers many of the attributes I seek when smoking them..

    no worries on the bellows, it is a wise idea to have the insurance on overnight cooks. 
    "Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber

    XL and MM
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • BlueRidgeSmokers
    Options
    YukonRon said:
    Thank you for sharing, I found it to be a very interesting read. I do about 24 butts/year. 

    The work to get a pork butt, seemingly one of the most forgiving cooks available for us, to turn out exquisite, is monumental task. Just one question; Do you brine the pork butt? It is part of my process, which delivers many of the attributes I seek when smoking them..

    no worries on the bellows, it is a wise idea to have the insurance on overnight cooks. 
    I do not conventionally brine pork butts or ribs - soak them in salt water - but I am injecting them with salt water several hours in advance of cooking, which almost surely achieves most of a brine soak in less time. It is, as you mention, essential.