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22.5 hour challenging butt cook

Topo GigioTopo Gigio Posts: 98
edited 6:38PM in EggHead Forum
I did 2 successful butts yesterday. One 8 pounder and one 10 pounder. The total time finishing was 22.5 hours. It wasn't as easy as my first two overnighters. This time it was 45 degrees out and highly variable wind all night. Tried to keep constant at 240-250, but it went upto 320 and down to 140 when I had to refuel at the 14 hour mark. I ran out of lump. I built the fire using Elder Ward's technique: Clean egg - Largest piece of lump on the grate in the middle, largest pieces on the bottom like a jig saw puzzle, medium pieces then small until you get to the top of the firebox.[p]Probable causes:
1. On my first bottom layer of lump I didn't get enough small pieces to fill all the holes between the large and medium pieces. Overall not enough lump in the egg.[p]2. When I started the fire with my electric starter I dug into the lump a bit, which started the fire just under the top layer. The temp got away from me to 350 and I brought it down slowly. This might have used up too much lump. I think I should have just rested the lighter on top of the lump. (I also have Weber fire cubes which I will try next time, one or two right on top of the lump)[p]3. Wind and cool temperature combo uses more lump.[p]The most important lesson I learned with this cook is its very hard to screw up pulled pork. The 'sammiches' were a success at my pot-luck. I made Elder's BBQ sauce and added a couple tablespoons of the dry rub I used. Enjoyed by all. [p]Any suggestions for me on my next overnighter?
Still learning. Thanks in advance.


  • Topo Gigio,
    BBQ Guru. You'll sleep the whole night.

    [ul][li]BBQ Guru[/ul]
  • Wise OneWise One Posts: 2,645
    Topo Gigio, I think you hit on most on the changes to make for next time. Not letting the temp to get to 350 is a big one. It's hard to get the temp down once it gets up there and it does burn the lump much faster. what I have found is that with my electric starter I need to pull it sooner than when I'm trying to build a hot fire. Normally I let it go for up to ten minutes but with a low and slow I pull it after five or so. The fire will have barely started and that is what I want. I then leave the vents open and check the temperature constantly. When it hits 200 I start closing everything WAY down. I try to stabilize at 240 only because I have found it more dfficult to hold it at 220 or so. Once I've done that, my fire is good to go for 24 hours or so. I've had a few "experiences" with my technique but like you say, pulled pork is very forgiving. It's always good, just sometimes better.

  • Topo Gigio,
    If you only went to the top of the fire box with your lump, you could have gone at least half way up the fire ring to have more fuel to start with. What brand of lump did you use, by the way?[p]TNW

    The Naked Whiz
  • Topo Gigio,
    On your initial setup, I assume you filled the egg up with as much lump as could be stuffed into it...and you are using a large. Brand of lump makes a huge difference. Some brands just last longer. I'm assuming it was all new per Elder Ward's instructions.[p]
    If the initial temp had climbed to 350°, I would have fully closed the vents to drop the temp ASAP...but it is a slow process. From your note, it sounds like that temp was attained when you were just warming things up, but it probably didn't help matters.[p]I put my meat on (and smoking wood) before the temp gets up beyond 200°. Just a preference. I generate a lot of smoke in the beginning when the meat and the egg are still cold. [p]Cool temps don't affect the egg as much as the wind does. The wind will sometimes drive the temp all over the place....which is what this sounds like. I think brand of lump and lump loading would work for or against you with the wind a factor.[p]
    I've never had to refuel, and my butts normally take the 20+ hours, but I cook at 225°. I have gotton down to the end, and have been unable to bump the temp in the end because I was low on lump....but at the very end (risking blasphemy here) I think it's OK to finish in the oven if you have time/fuel issues.[p]Bottom fought during the cook, maybe used a few choice words, lost half a nights sleep, reek of smoke, used up a bag of lump, and your guests were treated to some fine food....I don't know anywhere a person can go to find a pork sammich of the caliber that you just managed to produce, and consistently. Your guests probably realize that too! [p]Sometimes it's just easier. ;>[p]Mike in MN

  • Didn't know you could go past the top of the fire box. Can't see why it would hurt as the fire ring is there to protect the egg and with indirect and raised grid the meat is far enough away. I was thinking of doing that, but Elder's instructions state " Fill to the top of the fire box, but not above."[p]I only use Maple Leaf Lump. (I live in Toronto, Canada so its easily available). I haven't had trouble with it before.
  • Wise One, thanks. I'll be sure to be very careful next time starting my fire. I commented to my wife on how I thought my previous pulled pork was better. She said no way - 10 out of 10.[p]

  • Mike in MN, I used a new bag of Maple Leaf Lump on my large BGE. Didn't mind the challenging cook at all. It was a labour of love. Just hope I don't have to do it again in the middle of winter when its well below freezing here in Toronto. I hope to get it right next time.[p]
  • yaByaB Posts: 137
    Topo Gigio,
    On your item #2, try one Weber cube to get the fire going before trying two. If you nestle one cube down a bit into the lump and put a couple of pieces of lump over it, you should have a good fire going in about 10 minutes. Then you can start doing what needs to be done to stabilize the temp. Weber cubes aren't really expensive, but they do cost, so imo why use two when one will do, especially for a longer cook?[p]Glad the butts were a hit.[p]Bob

  • BillyBilly Posts: 68
    Topo Gigio,
    Thats good lump.

  • Topo Gigio,[p]I agree with Naked Whiz on your not having enough lump. When cooking butts, I routinely fill my egg up to within 1 inch of the top of the fire ring. (The rest of that space is where the hickory chunks go).[p]Bill
  • Topo Gigio,
    To Topo Gigo's wind issue. i am about to build a table for my Large BGE. The table is basically the same as what is sold in the store (drop in Egg) but with a few modifications, a couple of drawers mabe a fold out wing shelf but this wind thing has me curious. What if out in front of the bottom vent I built a wind screen. Maybe just a peice of wood that sit 3-5 inched up from the bottom shelf infront of the vent just to block the wind. Has anyone tried this?? Any opinions on whether it would work or not?

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