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OK, need more help with butts....

VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
edited 11:22AM in EggHead Forum
Cooked my second ever butt yesterday and still not happy at all with the taste. 7# butt, cooked for 9 hours (grill temp ran at 225) before reaching 195, wrapped in foil and towels in cooler for 2 hours. Not very tender, not good taste, no salt taste at all.

Heres how I prepared it.....rubbed in EVOO, coated with Dizzy Pig Dust, wrapped in plastic wrap and in the fridge for about 48 hours before I could cook it. Put another coat of Dust before putting on the Egg. When I took it off and chopped it I had to add lots of salt before it was tasty. And it was NOT nearly as tender as I thought it would be.

Here's my main you put salt on your butts in addition to your butt-rub? What am I doing wrong? Or what can I do to product a better tasting cook?



  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,993
    for me its all about the tasty bark. put as much dp course as you can get to stick, then frenches yellow mustard and rub it into a goop on the butt, then another coating of a different rub like firewalk. if i want more flavor i inject a hot vinegar style sauce like elderwards into the butt when it starts to break the plataue, about 180 degrees internal and inject. your 195 is just a guide, cook till the probe slides in easily. the extra rub and mustard gives me the most bark, and cut most of the fat off the butt, the fat lets the rub wash off and wont let it stick to the meat. at your cooking temp mine usually go 14 hours, maybe you had a false temp reading, check your gage in boiling water and take several readings with the thermapen next time
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125

    I used an old Maverick ET73 so that could have been a problem. I ordered a new ET732 from Amazon last night.

    Do you get enough salt flavor on your butt doing it your way?

  • NC-CDNNC-CDN Posts: 703
    My butts take longer than that, especially at that temp. I also use the mustard, but only coat the butt, then add rub. I don't let it sit in the fridge at all. I put it on the egg. Either way shouldn't effect what you are seeing. As for salt, I don't put any salt on my butts aside from what may be in the rub I am using. I'd never add any after the cook either. I do use sauces though. If I get my butt to 195 or 200 internal there is never an issue of the meat not being tender. It just falls apart.

    I'd check your thermometers with boiling water and go from there.
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    Are you saying that you don't prepare your butt with rub and mustard the night before and let it sit in fridge overnight? I thought that was suppose to get more flavor into the meat????

    And do you inject at any point during the cook? I never have but will if I need to.

    I am very disappointed with my butts so far. I have eaten some fantastic bbq in my life but it didn't come off my EGG!!

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,993
    when you rub, then mustard, then more rub, your doubling the rub and flavor. the flavor diminishes with the long cook, the injection late in the cook picks the flavor back up, might not win the comps with it, but its what i like. i dont rub overnight either, just when im lighting the egg so it maybe sits on the counter for an hour ;) if i dont inject ill add a vinegar sauce to the pull before making the sandwich and adding a regular bbq sauce on top. im not shooting for salt flavor though i want flavor

    you can see the vinegar sauce soaking into the pull here


    and a sweeter sauce on top

  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 9,860
    Hi Vanzo,

    In regards to tenderness:
    How easy was it to pull? If it was cooked enough it should pull apart fairly easily. 9 hours does seem a little on the short side. Maybe the probe temp was reading high.

    As far as taste I think that is more personal preference. I personally find that a single coating of rub gives me enough flavor. I too like a vinegar based sauce because it really soaks in the meat. If you want more flavor throughout you could always just shake some rub on the pulled meat. I wouldn't think rubbing ahead of time would make all that much difference. The dry run isn't going to "soak in" far if you know what I mean.

    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 

  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    Looks great, thats what I'm shooting for. Got some more learning to do....but, hey, thats the fun part!!
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,993
    there are lots of ways to cook them, you just need to figure out what you want the end product to be. notice how heavey the bark is, there was no fat cap on that butt.
  • 'Q Bruddah'Q Bruddah Posts: 739
    Pulled pork is my favorite cook. I had never prepared it before getting my egg. First one took 19 hours since I had some fire issues but tasted great right out of the gate.
    I slather mustard and rub one layer and like fishlessman put it on the egg directly or a couple of hours in the fridge at most so I am not preparing meat at 10 pm. It is for convenience not taste.
    I prepare the sides Coleslaw and Piedmont sauce according to Elder Wards recipe. If I add the piedmont sauce to the pulled pork the taste of smoky barbecue comes through but not necessarily salt, like a ham.
    I usually add a little Sweet Baby Ray's when I put it on the bun with the coleslaw.
    Like fishlessman says, you gotta know what you are looking for. I absolutely love the taste of smoke and a little sauce.
  • crghc98crghc98 Posts: 1,006
    you could always try a brine, or buy a but that has that 12% solution added....that may get the saltiness you are looking for...
  • I have a rule of thumb in reference to time. I allow about 90 minutes per pound. It is not always exact, but a good refernce point for planning purposes. As all of these pros have mentioned, the internal meat temp is most important. A 7 pounder will take about 10-11 hours.

    Bone in and fat cap still on will help flavor and tenderness.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    It is odd to me when I read these types of posts. I don't think I have ever had a bad pulled pork cook.

    The amount of salt is pretty subjective you might enjoy more of a Montreal Seasoning which will add a lot of salt to the cook.

    I can't tell much difference between mustard and evoo before seasoning the butt. I tend to use a good coat of mustard then seasoning. I have left seasoned overnight and refreshed the seasoning before the cook. There is a little more flavor but it isn't worth the effort IMO.

    You used the word chopped above. If the but is cooked to tenderness (not time) I have never been able to chop. The meat falls apart and once in a while I will cut the strings to get shorter pieces in the mix.

    My ET-73 will read off temperature from the thermapen. I will usually insert the meat probe in the meat and look at the reading while verifying with the thermapen. There is usually a 10° to 20° difference between the two. I add the difference to the 73 when monitoring the cook and always final check with the thermapen.

    When the cut is close to the 190° - 200° mark I probe the meat. I am looking for a easy insert and no tug when slowly pulling the probe out. Member thirdeye makes some nice probes/plugs but you can use most anything from a fork to an ice pick. I like the probe as there is no taper on the shaft.

    When the probe inserts and exits with no tug, the cut is done. You can also use the bone twist method or the fork twist method.

    This 8# butt was cooked at 400° dome and done in 6.5 hours. Still moist and fall apart.


    250° dome cook and there isn't much texture or taste difference between the two cooks. However, the 'tenderness' done temperature took this cook to 207° the meat was a titch dryer than I usually get. I just assumed it was that particular cut. Still great eats though.


  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    Almost all rubs have lots of sugar, and a fair amount of salt. Neither of those dissolve in EVOO, and so the coat of EVOO blocked those from penetrating into the butt.

    If you leave a butt in the fridge for several days, most rubs will "cure" the outside of the butt, and give a ham like flavor.

    I noticed once on Bourdain's "No Reservations" that one Carolina pit boss added the rub at the end, as the meat was being pulled. So, salt to taste as you like.

    The tenderness is a function of both time and temperature. At 195, assuming the butt was that temperature throughout, the collagen will turn to gelatin pretty fast. However, I usually go to 205, at which point the butt sort of jiggles like jelly, and is really hard to remove from the grill. I then leave the butt wrapped until the temperature drops to around 160. During that time (often more than 4 hours) it continues to tenderize.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    gdenby wrote:
    ...Neither of those dissolve in EVOO, and so the coat of EVOO blocked those from penetrating into the butt.

    Interesting, I never thought about that possibility. Thanks for the information.

  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    So are you saying I should leave off the EVOO?

  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 12,994
    Vanzo, I never apply anything but rub, no oil of any kind and absolutely no mustard! :)

    This is what I use...

    1 Tbls salt
    1 Tbls sugar
    1 Tbls brown sugar
    1 Tbls ground cumin
    1 Tbls chili powder
    1 Tbls cracked black pepper
    1 Tbls paprika
    1 tspn cayenne pepper

    Rub it on thick so you can't see the meat. Use hickory for smoke. Very tasty. Looks like this... every time.


    Good luck!

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Excellent looking bark there!!!

    Less the sugars, I have used something like the above seasoning on steaks for a long long time and it is fantastic. I need to add the sugars and give a butt a try.

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    yeah. waste of extra virgin, for one thing. that's a subtle oil that should be tasted alone, in my book.

    what was the internal temp of the meat when you took it off?

    for what it is worth, this must be said. it is a pork roast. you can't get any flavor INTO it other than maybe by brining. all smoke, rubs, etc. are going to be ON the meat, and will be introduced across all the meat only by mixing after pulling it.

    i don't buy the idea that salt in rubs will cure it. i have two hams dry-curing now, and it is just not possible to cure them with anything less than about four pounds of salt, which is obviously far more than what is in rub.

    smoke the hell out of it, because no smoke is going to get INTO the meat. when you mix it all, while pulling the meat, some of that excess will flavor the rest of the meat. you can then salt or flavor the meat to your own heart's content by sprinkling as much as you want into the pulled meat.

    some add a little sauce even (i do, maybe half the time). up here (north) we grew up with sweet sauce. but the traditional NC way is a fine, wonderful, thin sauce. check out elder ward's method on the Naked Whiz site. if you don't like the way it turns out when you follow that method, then you just don't like pulled pork ;) . and that would be ok too.

    but i'm saying it expecting backlash: you can't get any other flavor OUT of the meat than what god and the farmer put into it (unless you brine it). at the end of the day, it's a pork roast, flavored with whatever is put ONTO the meat (Rub, smoke, mop, sauce, etc.)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • CrueznCruezn Posts: 317
    Looks like you have lots of great advice already, butt (pun intended), I'll throw my $.02 in anyway. Like Grandpa's said, I don't think I've ever had a bad butt cook. I strongly suspect your temp probe(s) was out of whack. I inject my butt with apple juice and soy sauce. I rub with yellow mustard, and apply my rub. I then trow on at 250 and cook until probe inserts easily.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    A note.

    If I understood something in Modernist Cuisine correctly, the "spice" elements of the smoke do penetrate the meat, just as the nitrates penetrate to form the smoke ring. The penetration continues as long as there is moisture in the flesh. In most situations, there will eventually be a dry zone under the surface, and the flavor penetration will stop.
  • KailasKailas Posts: 146
    Ok, if you really are having trouble with your butts, try this....

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i'm not quite sure that's correct, or maybe it's an over-simplification. no disrespect.

    my point is that many are convinced that meat 'penetrates' considerably. as in, to the center of or very deeplyinto the meat. it doesn't happen, or even come close. does it enter the meat to some degree? possibly. but it isn't 'penetrating' by any means.

    nitric acid (to form the smoke ring) gets into the meat by wicking. that's what their reference to moisture probably means. it doesn't mean, as some have described it, that the surface of the meat needs to be wet in order for smoke to 'stick'. it means that if there is moisture IN the meat, osmosis will drag in whatever is on the meat (just as it does salt).

    but there's a limit. with the smoke ring, it is temperature. the smoke ring doesn't stop forming when it hits dry meat, because we have all had smoke rings on pork chops, brisket, even hamburgers, and the meat has still been moist. it stops at a pretty fixed temp of 140.

    one needs to define 'penetrate'. i'm saying that, effectively, nothing gets below the surface to any great degree. if a sixteenth of an inch is 'penetration', then so be it. i think, though, the more common belief is that the center of one's pulled pork should be nice and smoky. that's not possible. no way, no how. unless brined with liquid smoke or something.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    For what you were trying to do, add salt flavor to the meat, it wasn't beneficial. I use safflower oil all the time on ribs, but just to hold the rub on. It seems to hold moisture in the ribs longer. And EVOO on chicken to help crisp the skin.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    I was using "penetrates" in a broad sense, just "getting into."

    I'm not entirely sure I understood what was in MC, but it seemed to be that the vanillin and phenol created by lignin decomposition would theoretically enter the meat as long as there was a continuous water content. But practically, an area just under the surface usually dries out, especially with higher temperatures, and so the transmission stops.

    MC talks about the virtues of high end smokers that maintain 100% humidity at hot smoking temps. (Got a spare 10K $?) I suppose, based on various statements that these would possibly allow flavor compounds to completely suffuse ribs.
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    Now that is a good looking butt!!
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    THATS what I'm looking for!!

    Gonna try again real soon.
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    Stop preparing the butt the day before.
    Stop using EVOO.
    Stop using mustard.
    Buy a new temp gauge.
    Use egger's recipe below for rub.
    Only put on rub moments before cooking.
    Salt and season to taste after the meat is pulled.

    Is there anything else?

  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,902
    With all the great information provided above, and all you took from it was your slap in the face in reply, you might want to eat out more.
    Thank you,

    Galveston Texas
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,993
    yep, cook it til its done. i bet that was half the problem, when pulled pork is fully cooked til it falls apart, salt isnt what you want to really taste, dried out pork not cooked fully... well i would put salt on that... couldnt get enough salt to stick to my mothers overcooked pork roasts and porkloins :laugh:
  • VanzoVanzo Posts: 125
    Sorry you don't know me well and know that I kid around a lot. I did not mean for my reply to be a "slap in the face", whatever you mean by that. I really meant it more as as tongue-in-cheek.

    I was kinda being serious.....the point I was trying to make was that everything I had been doing was wrong and the first thing I needed to do was STOP doing those things. I guess I just didn't put it into words that you would understand.

    Sorry you misunderstood my intentions. I'm really a pretty good old boy.

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