Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pork Butt on the Big Green Egg - 2.0 Update

Turns out, I am a butt man. The pork butt or Boston butt or pork shoulder (depending on where you are) is what we here in the South call barbecue. If you stroll into any roadside BBQ establishment in Georgia and order a BBQ sandwich, you will get pulled pork on a hamburger bun or on a slice of white bread. It is something we all grew up with.

I must confess that this is the second time we have endeavored to create the famous pulled pork, the first being just after we bought our Big Green Egg and before we started this blog. In fact, it was that failure that planted the seed for this effort as a way to ensure that we wouldn't repeat the same mistakes and that we would have a place to document what to do and what not to do the next time.

Just an update. We have made this several more times and would like to remind everyone that you should trust the temperature, I seem to always be worried that it isn't turning out right. Even if doesn't seem to be working, as long you get the meat to 200 degrees or so and then pull it off, wrap it up, put it in a cooler and let it rest for an hour or so, it will turn out delicious, moist and tender. It works every time. Check out the updated photos.

Another update to show the cook times and temps for a 10lb butt:

Time      Butt Temp     Egg Temp

9am           34                 250
11:20am   105                250
12:20pm   133                250
1:20          147                250
2:20          155                250
3:20          165                250 wrapped the butt and heated the egg to 275 to speed things up
4:20          174                275
5:20          186                275
6:20          201                275

MORE cook times another 10lb butt:

7am          43                   250
12:30pm  149                  268
5:20         167                  250  turned egg up to 280
7:20         174                  280
8:40         190                  290
9:12         194                  290
9:34         200                  290

not sure why the cook time was so much longer...


Pork Butt on the Big Green Egg


Updated photo

Research:

The first effort was bush league. I talked to a friend at work who is a Svengali of the Egg. He stepped me through the process of the rub and the cook. Unfortunately, I didn't follow his advice.  In addition to seeking counsel, I spent some effort looking up the proper temperature for cooking the pork butt and learned that the safe cooking temperature was 160 degrees, so naturally I assumed this was the temperature in which the pork would be "done" and any more would be too dry. So that was what I cooked it to. I rubbed it with mustard, applied my rub and cooked it until it was "done." It was safe alright, no one died, but it was tough, didn't pull and was just generally bad. Very discouraging.

It wasn't until a few months later, mostly due to weather, that I was able to attempt the famous brisket that turned out so good. It was this effort that resulted in me learning about rendering the fat, the temperature plateau, and the proper target temperature for the meat.

Finally, this time in my research I came across a great blog post at nibblemethis, a blog that puts mine to shame. It is that post that we used as our guide this time because its instructions rang true to me based on my past pork butt failure and my successful brisket.

Plan:

We bought an 8-pound pork butt at the local supermarket the day before the cook. The plan was to assume a 1.5 hour per pound cook at 250 degrees. We were thinking about 12 hours. Based on that, I needed to get MY butt up at 5:45 am Saturday in order to get the PORK butt on the Egg in enough time to allow for dinner at 7 pm. Part of the fun of cooking the butt is making butt references...

Execution:

5:50 am

I do a back handspring out of bed and trundle down the stairs to start the Egg and rub the butt. :). (See, it is impossible to resist).

I filled the Egg up to the top of the firebox with the BGE charcoal and added a few lumps of unsoaked apple wood and lit it.

Then pulled out the butt, trimmed off the fat layer and rubbed it down with BGE Caliente Rub.




Updated photo

Note that we used a disposable tray to hold the butt while I trimmed it and rubbed it and then I used the same tray as the drip pan when I put it on the Egg.


6:30 am

After the Egg reached 250 degrees, I inserted the plate setter, drip pan, stainless grate and placed the butt on the Egg to start the cook.


Still dark outside on Sat am...

Here we have the BGE remote thermometer that I recently replaced the temperature leads on. The first leads started measuring too hot after only a few uses. Turned out, you aren't supposed to expose the leads to direct heat or moisture ??? So with these new leads, you see that I have comically wrapped them in foil to reduce the exposure to direct heat. We will see...

That said, a remote thermometer is otherwise a great thing.

I continued to tweak the air intake and daisy wheel the remainder of the morning to stabilize the temperature at 250. Then I left for a middle school football game that led to an after game victory celebration.

I returned to the Egg about 5 hours later.

2:30 pm


Internal butt temperature is 154 degrees here. My Egg temperature had dropped to about 200 degrees by the time I returned, so I bumped the intake a little and it quickly returned to temp.

From 2:30 until 5ish we watched the butt temperature rise from 154 to about 196. It was here that I inserted the analog thermometer to double-check temps and to check the tenderness. The thermometer went in smooth. When I tried the fork, it was smooth at the edges and maybe still a little tough in the center. I decided to pull it anyway.

5:00 pm

I pulled it off the Egg, wrapped it in foil, wrapped that in two towels, and put it in the cooler to rest for at least 1 hour. Hoping that it would get more tender in the middle.



6:30 pm

Pulled out the pork, unwrapped and began pulling it apart to check the cook and tenderness.


Updated photo

Wow!


Updated photo

I pulled it apart using two forks. It pulled apart gently. The center may have had a little more pull but not much. The bark was crispy and salty and delicious. The inside meat was soft and smoky and moist. It was exactly right.

Verdict:

Very successful this time. Everyone loved the sandwiches, especially the proud cook! The meat was the hit of the day and was quickly consumed.

You should make this. It is simple, cheap and fun to do. We will be making it again very soon.


Happiness!

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:


So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer

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