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Old 10-11-2004, 10:15 PM   #1
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Smoking Pork Butt?

When smoking brined pork butt, is it o.k. to go by time rather than temp?

I ask because I've smoked pork butt 3 times now. first time I smoked for 3 hours until a temp probe read 170o and it was o.k., but didn't fall apart when pulling. Second time I went for 4 hours (at a lower temp) and it again hit 170o but was much better. Third time (and third smoker) I again went 3 hours and the butt hit either 160 or 170 before we served and again, it wasn't falling apart.

Normally when I cook pork, I don't like to go past 150 (I usually stop cooking at 145 and let it drift up to 150) but now I'm wondering if I should just let the thing go for 4 or 5 hours to get it more tender.

I'm preparing the brine according to Alton Brown's recipe and brining over night. The smoker I use now is electric and unfortunately, I can't afford a thermostat right now so temp is pretty much fixed at between 250 and 300.

So, can I let it go longer and hit a higher final temperature, or am I never going to get good results until I can control my temp better?

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Old 10-11-2004, 10:32 PM   #2
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You have the temperature right. The problem may be in how fast you get there.

An oven temperature of about 225 F for 6-7 hours may be a better way to go.

Low and slow is the way to go. for a large piece of meat like a pork butt needs the longer time to cook through slowly.
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Old 10-12-2004, 08:39 AM   #3
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The texture you're looking for requires a longer cook time at a lower temp. I usually let pork butts go for at least 6 hours at a temp of around 225. You need that long, slow cooking to break down all the connective tissue and collagen and get that succulent texture.
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Old 10-12-2004, 11:58 AM   #4
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Pork may be done at that temp, but it ain't pullable until you reach a internal temp of 195-205.

Depending on your cooker it should take at least 6-9 hours to cook at 225-250.

Also remember that the more you open the cooker and "look", mop, baste or whatever that it will probably add 20-30 minutes to the cooking time.

If you're looking, you ain't cooking!
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Old 10-12-2004, 03:07 PM   #5
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It would take a very long time to overcook a Pork Butt or Shoulder in a "smoker". Just keep the temp at about 225 and cook till the meat is easily pulled apart witha fork. About 5-9 hours in my smoker.
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Old 10-12-2004, 05:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainee
Pork may be done at that temp, but it ain't pullable until you reach a internal temp of 195-205.

Depending on your cooker it should take at least 6-9 hours to cook at 225-250.

Also remember that the more you open the cooker and "look", mop, baste or whatever that it will probably add 20-30 minutes to the cooking time.

If you're looking, you ain't cooking!
Thats the info I was looking for (and hoping for)!!

I almost never look when I cook but I'm thinking maybe I should start - As I mentioned my smoker is electric with no temp control. I've looked into thermostats but they run a couple hundred bucks for what I've found - out of the question until after I make my first million. Temperature stabilizes around 250 to 300F in the smoker which sounds like it's a smidge too high. Perhaps pulling the lid off once an hour might slow things down a little.

Thanks for all of the advice! I'll let the next one go until it hits 200.

p.s. anyone ever use maple to smoke pork? I've got a bunch of offcuts from a workbench I'm building.
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Old 10-13-2004, 08:46 AM   #7
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What kind have you been looking at? You can use a regular oven thermometer and place it on the rack, or hang it from the lid. Also you could use a digital thermometer.

What brand smoker do you have?
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Old 10-13-2004, 10:35 AM   #8
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Thermometer I have, that's how I know that the temp is around 250-300. The issue is that I have no temperature control (thermostat). When I smoke, I use a corded digital probe thermometer in the meat to so I know where I'm at. There's also a dial thermometer in the lid of the smoker.

The smoker is an old barrel type from about 20 years ago. It's got an electric element in the bottom. My dad hadn't used it in about...oh 19 years so I took it.

The thermostats I've seen so far for electrics run well aroun $150 or more and I just can't afford that at the moment. I've looked at electric oven thermostats and even those run around $80 and there's no guarantee that it would work anyway - most ovens don't have settings for under 250.

I suppose I could punch a hole in the top of the lid and put some sort of cover on there to try and control how much heat is escaping. Not quite sure if it would work though.

Any other thoughts?
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Old 10-13-2004, 11:42 AM   #9
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Does it have a water pan?
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Old 10-13-2004, 12:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainee
Does it have a water pan?
I'm not sure. It's got a porcelain coated steel pan which I figured you placed on top of the element and that's where the chips went. I usually mixed about half wet and half dry chips or chunks in there. Is this what you're talking about?
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