Pork butt overload on WSM

Mike Shook

TVWBB Member
Church group wants PP BBQ. I am breaking one of my rules today out of necessity (i.e., I should have started days ago) and dropped 6 small butts on the WSM 22 before dawn, total raw weight 43#. They just fit without touching each other or the edges. I usually run the full cook on the WSM for 15 hours or whatever, but with this much meat I think I'll need to pull them and foil wrap them and oven finish them. I figure the bark will be soft (assuming I get any real bark with two crowded grates) but the flavor should be fine if I watch the smoke levels.

The first thing I have noted is that with this much meat keeping the smoker up to temp was initially a challenge. I did sit it all on the counter for an hour to bring it to room temp while getting the fire going, but apparently I am pushing the limit on the WSM. So alas and alack, it seems I will need to forego any honey-do chores around the house today and instead have to stay close to the thermometer -- and to the college football games on the television that happens to be visible from my smoker.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
Good luck! Just curious: what is your pit temp (or your target pit temp)? And are you using water in your water pan?
 

Mike Shook

TVWBB Member
water pan: yes.
wood: apple and hickory chunks
charcoal: Kingsford briquettes

I am running at 245 at present (2 hours into the cook.) Temp was 260 when I put the meat on and immediately dove to 210. I had to work vents and coal for about an hour to get it back up to the 235-255 range I try to hit. Right now I am on coffee cup number 3 and enjoying the morning.
 

Len Dennis

TVWBB Diamond Member
Just a FYI, putting your meat on the counter for an hour is a waste of an hour. I read elsewhere that that is an exercise in futility.

Next time to prove this to yourself, take a steak out of the fridge and measure the internal temp. After an hour, measure it again. Virtually no change. Waste of an hour.
 

Mike Freel

TVWBB Pro
Glad to hear that you accepted a challenge that pushed you outside your comfort zone and have come up with a plan to achieve your goal. As you mentioned, now you just have to sit back with your coffee and watch thew temperature gauge. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Agree with Len, don’t bother next time with the hour, get it right on.
I think you’ve given yourself enough time, don’t worry about it too much.
Given the amount of meat, I might have skipped the water but, I never use water either. That is a lot of meat, you will have a fine feast when all is said and done!
Strong work!
 

Mike Shook

TVWBB Member
Thanks for exploding the counter top myth, I'll heed that next time.

Cook was a success. 11 hours on the WSM and two of the butts were done. The others were around 175, so I wrapped them and oven baked them at 285 for about another 2 hours. Yield was 21 pounds, 15 ounces. Actual starting weight was 46.25 pounds (I just did the math) so my yield was 47.4%, which seems about right for bone-in.
 

Tim K

TVWBB All-Star
Glad that it went well, as that was an awful lot of meat!!! If I may offer up a suggestion;you knew going into the cook that you were going to have to finish in the oven at a higher temp, ( in this case 285°) why not just start out cooking with that temp on the smoker? Try foiling the water pan, and running the smoker in the +/- 275° range and see what you think. Again, you had a plan, executed it, and your plan resulted in over 46 lbs of meat....DANG THATS A LOT OF PULLED PORK!!! I’m just throwing out a suggestion so you could skip a step or 2 at the end of your cook.
Either way, Great job! I know everyone loved it and no one walked away hungry!
Tim
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
I have to agree with the time on the counter. It's like putting the meat in an oven set at 75F and expecting something significant to happen in an hour. I wouldn't say it was time wasted as long as you weren't waiting on the hour to end before putting it on the smoker, but it likely did next to nothing as far as raising the meat temp. I seem to recall there being some evidence that smoke particles cling to colder meat better, so for flavor it may even be better to leave it in the fridge until the last minute.

I also think Tim K is on to something with running the smoker at 275F. You'll have to lose the water to have much chance of hitting those temps. Keep the pan. It blocks the direct heat from hitting the meat. Lining it with foil will make cleanup a bit easier. A lot of folks go even hotter and have excellent results.
 

Brian Johnson

TVWBB Super Fan
Thanks for exploding the counter top myth, I'll heed that next time.

Cook was a success. 11 hours on the WSM and two of the butts were done. The others were around 175, so I wrapped them and oven baked them at 285 for about another 2 hours. Yield was 21 pounds, 15 ounces. Actual starting weight was 46.25 pounds (I just did the math) so my yield was 47.4%, which seems about right for bone-in.
Hey Mike! Congrats on a successful cook! Hope you were able to enjoy it and not stress out too much. I also hope you had plenty of help pulling all that meat!
 

Mike Shook

TVWBB Member
So today is pass number 2 at this. 49 pounds pre-trimmed weight) on the Weber 22 this time. Trying the hotter temp as suggested. I know it will accelerate the cook; am interested to see how it affects the meat moisture / texture.

Meat on heat at 6 AM. Should be able to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight!
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Pretty hard to dry a butt out.
250-275 works fine for me...... For one

Ive never wrapped a butt, cant see reason for doing it except to speed it up.
I like some good bark w/pulled pork.

Good luck

Bringing to room temp......yeah...works for small cuts of meat like a small steak, or thin like ribs

Not for big stuff like brisket or butts, unless left all day
 
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Mike Shook

TVWBB Member
Results: 2 shoulders ready at 10 hours, 3 more at 11 hours, and the last one at 12 hours. Never bothered to transfer them to the oven, the temp was well controlled on the WSM. Yield was slightly less than last time (40% versus 47%), but that is almost certainly due to more fat trimmed away from these roasts than the cook itself. 49 pounds purchased, 19 pounds 15 ounces bagged and tagged. That's a bit over 40 pounds in the freezer now, one more round of cooking and the church group can have at it (October 26 is their date.)

Next Friday/Saturday I am guest assisting with a KCBS competition cook team, and the following weekend I am judging at a competition in NC. My one and only day left available to cook for this is 10/20, so I'm praying for cooperative weather.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Thanks for the update Mike, always nice to hear that things turned out well!
Don’t worry, your weather will be excellent for the next round.
 

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