Author Topic: pork butt  (Read 269 times)

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Offline Barry Cochran

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pork butt
« Reply #-1 on: September 28, 2017, 11:27:26 AM »
I smoked a 4.5 lb butt on my electric smoker. This was about the 10th one I have done. After 8 hrs at 250 degrees, I took it out when my probe read 205. However, it only pulled at the smaller 1/3. Then I noticed that the bone was horizontal (I had not noticed this in any before) and that the portion that was not done, the bone was down the middle. I put it back in the smoker and it took another 8 hours to get to 205. It all turned out good, but that was a long cook! Thoughts?

Offline akruckus

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Re: pork butt
« on: September 28, 2017, 01:06:54 PM »
That's really long, maybe faulty temperature sensors? You can test with an ice water mixture (32F) or boiling water (212F).  Not sure what can be done to check the smoker sensor itself tho.  Maybe check manual for that.

Each hunk of meat moves at its own pace.  16 total hours for 4.5# is awfully long, I've had 10 pound butts take that long, but I haven't really found (bone in) or cooked anything that small before.
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Offline TentHunteR

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Re: pork butt
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 01:09:09 PM »
OK, you have two separate issues going on.


First off, based on your description it sounds like you got a Picnic shoulder cut with the Hock removed, which is perfectly fine.

There are two halves to a whole pork shoulder:

The Butt (or Boston Butt) is the upper half of a whole shoulder.  It has the T-shaped scapula blade bone, like you are used to seeing.

The Picnic cut (or picnic ham) is the lower half of the shoulder. It contains the arms bones (Humerus, Radius & Ulna) running through it.  Usually it includes the Hock (shank) which makes it resemble a small ham (ergo the name, Picnic Ham).  However, sometimes the hock is removed making it look just like a Butt.

BOTH halves of a pork shoulder are equally good for making pulled pork!  In fact when I am doing a cook for a large group I buy whole shoulders and have them cut in half because it's more cost effective.  And don't let anyone tell you that you get a better yield from a butt versus a picnic either.  Yes the picnic has more bone, but the butt has a much thicker fat cap which gets trimmed off or melts off, so the yield ends up being tit for tat.


Here's a picture of a whole shoulder cut in half.  The right half is the Butt. The left half is the Picnic and includes the hock.


Here is my cooker with four whole shoulders cut in half (i.e. 4 butt & 4 picnics), and with the hocks removed you cannot tell which is which without looking closely at the bones.






The second issue, is your shoulder was simply not ready, no matter what the thermometer said.  That shoulder is not ready to pull until those connective tissues have broken down, and that could be at 185°, or maybe not until 215°.  You never know, and that's why I quit going by temperature years ago, and started going by how it feels when you insert a probe into it.

> If you can slide a probe all the way to the center with little to no resistance, then that means the connective tissues have broken down and it's ready to pull - no resting required!

> If you insert a probe and it goes in easily part way, then meets resistance, then it's not ready and needs more cook time, no matter what the thermometer says!

Optionally, if you are out of time and need to serve it, then pull what can easily be pulled and slice or chop the rest. Trust me it will get eaten either way!


Use your thermometer as a guide to know when to start checking, but remember; that piggy was never taught how to read a thermometer!  :D  :P


Hope this helps!

Cliff

« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 01:40:50 PM by TentHunteR »
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Offline Smokerjunky

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Re: pork butt
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 01:11:59 PM »
First of all, good recovery!! 

Temperature is not always the final indicator and each cut of meat can be different as can be the appropriate pulling temperature. I usually pair the temperature AND how easily the bone moves or pulls out before pulling pork butts off the smoker. A third indicator would be to probe the meat and make sure the probe enters and pulls out of the meat easily in all areas.  I have had pork butts where parts of it pull easier than other parts.  Just my opinions - but again - NICE RECOVERY - way to stick with it.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 03:57:17 PM by Smokerjunky »
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Offline TentHunteR

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Re: pork butt
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 02:04:32 PM »
One more thought, and again there are different schools of thought on this... 

To foil or not to foil:

After 6 1/2 - 7 hours I like to foil the shoulders with just a little vinegar or beer, after they have gotten a good color (usually around 160°), and bump my pit temp up to around 300° - 325°.  This gets me past the dreaded "stall" caused by evaporative cooling, and I start checking for doneness after 2 hours or so.  This lets me get pork shoulders done within 9 1/2 - 10 hours consistently, which makes it easier to plan for a cook.

I have never gotten a complaint about the bark, which continues to develop and darken with the high heat hitting the foil, by doing this.  I also get to catch the foil juices, which are full of flavor, and add them back to the pulled pork.  Those foil juices are like liquid gold!

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Offline TMB

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Re: pork butt
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 02:28:53 PM »
The info you have gotten is spot on.  I wish I could add to it but 99% of my butts are cooked in infrared and rarely take 5 hrs or more.  Most of mine go 4 hrs and then into a cooler for a little rest before i pull them

I will tell you Tenthunter is right about the pig not knowing how to read temps and even goats are just as bad.  I once cooked a 3.5 lb goat shank for 12+ hrs and 4 stalls  ??? yes 4 times the temp backed off during the cook. 

Not all meat is the same and each hunk is ready when it wants to be.  Reason I use infrared so much, I can power my way through the stall and cook till done relatively fast and my better wife love it so I stay with it   
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Offline Barry Cochran

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Re: pork butt
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 09:28:36 PM »
Thanks, again. Great information! I'll try the foil wrap next time. Barry