Hi there boys and girls, time for another Man Food Monday!
This week I tried a different way of preparing a pork butt for cooking on the Brinkman smoker.
As always I am working to figure out the best and easiest way to do this and to gain the knowledge to do it well. In my post on beginner smoking I stressed 2 things:
- Do not try new things if you are pushed for time.
- Temperature indicates done not TIME.
So I did all my food prep and got the 3 lb pork butt on the grill at 11am. Looking over the charts that I referenced in the beginner post I determined that the meat would take 5.5 hours to cook at 225° F. So armed with my “trusty” Taylor metal probe thermometer I set out to cook. It was not “done” ( internal temp at 175° F) at 4:30 pm. As a matter of fact the internal temp was at 120° F so I left it on the smoker, checking the temp every hour, till 10 pm…. 9 hours ….and the internal temp was at only 160°F. I wrapped it in Foil and put in the the oven at 225° F and let it cook till it reached an internal temp of 175° F at around 6 am the next morning this meant that the pork took 19 hours to cook……. Good thing I was not cooking for guests. We ordered a pizza that night for dinner. But breakfast was AMAZING!! My goodness that was a great piece of meat.
So given this I when about trying to figure out what was the reason that the cook time was so far off from my estimate. First thing I did was to check all my temperature gauges. The ones on the grill were pretty close to accurate. The Taylor I was using was not, it was about 25° F cold. Now to be fair this thermometer is about 15 years old and it was not originally bought to do BBQ/smoker cooking. The age may have been a factor in the inaccuracy and it also may have been submerged in water a time or two, and this could have done some damage. Taylor is one of the best mechanical gauges on the market. So what do I do about this in the future, I can either remember that it is 25° F cold or I can buy a new thermometer to replace it. I replaced it, I bought the Maverick ET 732 here’s a review of it.
I have read quite a bit about different systems and this seems to be one that I can work with. At the time of this writing I have not used it so I will talk more about it after my next meat smoke.
Testing your thermometer is simple. I used an electric tea kettle, a coffee cup and two bamboo skewers. Water boils at 212° F so using boiling water is one of the easiest ways to check your thermometer. Using the bamboo skewers across the coffee cup to support the dial of your thermometer you place it in the cup and pour the water right when it boils. Watch the arm move and that will tell you how high it reads. If it hits at or near 212° your golden, if it’s higher or lower make a note and do the test again. You can do it 2 or 3 time to see if it changes between tests compare the notes if the tests are consistent you then know to add or subtract this amount when you use it to cook. I suggest that you test your new thermometers (Digital or Mechanical) this way just so you know how accurate they are.
So enough of that, let’s talk Apple/Hickory wood smoked Pork Butt! I used Apple and Hickory because I like BACON! This is common to most smoked bacon. I used standard charcoal briquettes in the fire pit and the electric starter to fire everything up. This adventure I planned to smoke the entire duration of the cook time, I did not plan for it to take as long as it did so once it became apparent I needed to wrap the meat and place it in the oven the smoking was done.,
In my prep, I brined the pork Butt in a mixture of equal parts kosher salt and turbinado sugar (raw sugar). (1 cup +1 cup)
I used water as the medium but you can use equal parts water and apple/fruit juice flavors/spices as well. (enough to cover the pork butt).
When you are brining ANY meat you need to keep it Below 40° F so all brining needs to be done in the Refrigerator. This keep the NASTY bacteria from spoiling your food, making you sick and possibly killing your guests with nasties.
After 13 hours in the brine I took the Pork Butt out dried it with paper towels and put a dry rub on it.
½ cup turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
2 Tbsps. paprika
1 Tbsp. grounded black pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
3 cloves garlic chopped
½ tsp. all-spice
You will notice that I did not use any salt in this rub. This is due to the kosher salt in the brine solution and that in most chili powders there is salt added. This does not mean you cannot add Kosher salt. You will read that most rubs call for kosher salt, table salt has iodine added and can add flavor to food during cooking. For that reason it is suggested that kosher salt be used.
Wrap the pork butt in plastic wrap and allow 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator for the rub to be adsorbed, go ahead and setup your smoker during this time. When you are ready to take the pork butt out of the refrigerator unwrap it and let it come to room temp. As the meat is warming go ahead and start the smoker, remember NO charcoal lighter fluid or self starting charcoal, use a starter chimney or or a electric starter. Once the coals are ashy gray assemble the smoker and add the wood, about 50/50 apple and hickory set the water bowl on and set the grill on the lowest position over the water in the smoker. Keep an eye on the smoke coming from the fire and monitor the temp as much as you can. Every 45 minutes or so open the door to the fire bowl and add a hand full of wood. As the cook time ran to 5 hours I only added hickory wood every 45 minutes/1 hour until the end of the time it was on the smoker. I did pull it after 11 hours and wrap it to finish in the oven at around 10:30 pm. The temp in the oven was 225° and it stayed there until the early morning hours.
This was planned as a Sunday evening meal, it did not work out that way. I figure that among the reasons it took so long were:
- My thermometers were not accurate and had not been tested.
- At around 5 pm I opened the smoker to check temp and did so about every hour until 10:30pm.
This caused my temperatures to fluctuate and I could not keep an even temperature for the remainder of the cook. If you are lookin it ain’t cookin!
- I started the cook too late.
Now this was a pork butt that was right at 3 lbs., so I think it “should not” have taken that long (but it did). I will be doing this one again soon and report to you how it fairs, I will be using the Maverick ET 732 digital thermometer and I am betting that this will show that most of my problem was caused by inaccurate thermometer reading.
Take care and enjoy your week.
This recipe was shared on Foodie Friends Friday.