Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a White Butt: 7lb Pork Butt v2

I was in a meeting one Thursday afternoon when I first heard about the incoming snow and ice that may shut down the city of Atlanta the following Monday.  It was in that same meeting that I decided I would not be going into work on Monday regardless of the weather and decided that I would instead cook something low and slow all day.

In spite of impending inclement winter weather and the fact that the streets may be impassible, I came up with the bright idea of having people over for the BCS national championship game (excitement about the impending cook probably hindered my judgement).  Luckily I had the second pork butt from my 2-pack and I was ready to give butt a second try. As soon as I got the butt ready to go, the snow started to fall around 8pm Sunday night...

We don't often get snow in Atlanta and when we do it seldom collects so I assumed the same this time around.  I could not have been more wrong.  I was determined to not let these pesky snow flakes slow me down so I fired up the grill and got to it. At first the snow was light and I thought nothing of it.  Then the skies opened up and it all came down.  I was concerned with the snow that was getting into the egg making the charcoal wet and inefficient.  However, the hot coals melted the snow and burned off the water almost on contact.

As soon as I took the cover off of the egg, the table was covered in a blanket of white.  I let the grill preheat for a while but left some of my tools on the table while retreating to the warmth inside.  I came back out to get the butt on and it took me 10 minutes to realize the grate pictured above was under the 3 inches of snow that had accumulated in a short amount of time.  After searching for a while I was finally able to locate it and get things on track.

After defrosting the butt for several days, I proceeded to trim the fat cap.  In my previous attempt I left a good amount of fat that stuck around when the butt was complete.  This time I trimmed more of the fat so that there was very little remaining.  I rubbed the butt with the remnants of the rub I used for the ribs.  I had about half a container of pork rub and half a container of applewood rub.  I used the combination on the butt and then wrapped in saran wrap and placed it back in the fridge for the remainder of the day.

Even in the driving snow, I got the egg up to 225º during the preheat and added two heaping handfuls of hickory chips to the center of the coals.  In an attempt to get more smoke in the butt than my previous attempt, I added some more chips to the outer part of the coals where the heat would reach later on.  (This proved to be very smart on my part.) I placed the plate setter inverted with the grate, drip pan and V-rack on top and checked the temperature intravenously.  This was an overnight cook so the next morning I got up early to check the status of the office and it was closed. PERFECT, I didn't even have to use a sick day!  I then stumbled out to the winter wonderland that had accumulated on my 18th century deck to notice that the temperature of the egg had fallen to around 175º.  I immediately adjusted the openings to allow for more heat and let it go a little longer.  I came back at the temperature was still the same.  Throughout the day, I had trouble getting the dome temp of the egg up to 225º. I think this was due to the weather outside the egg and the thermometer's location relative to the snow covered lid but I am not sure.  Regardless, I kept playing with the temperature throughout the day and let the butt cook an extra hour (13hours) to make up for the lower temp. After the 13 hours, I pulled the butt off and wrapped it in foil.  I placed the butt back on and got it up closer to 300º.  I left it on for 4 hours to make sure all of the fat had cooked out.  After the 4 hours, I placed the butt in the cooler to rest until it was time to eat.

This is just after the butt went on and the best picture I have of the snow accumulation.
The butt is done when it looks shriveled and the bone feels like it would pull free to the touch.  I immediately noticed how much more shriveled this one looked than my first.  After pulling it, the 3 hungry people that had braved the elements and MBH and I tasted it. This butt was noticeably smokier tasting than the first.  This was an appreciated change as people that tasted both of my butts mentioned.  This butt was also a little drier tasting.  There was absolutely no fat left over which I kind of missed from the first butt attempt.  It was nice to get a little bit of fat flavor with the first butt I did but this one was no where near a failure.  The only problem with the butt was the amount that was left over after people had a hard time making it over for the game. This butt netted me leftovers that lasted me nearly two weeks.

This was the butt just before wrapping in foil.  Notice the snow accumulation and how much melted away around the egg. Also notice how shriveled the butt looks.


  1. I was thinking of brining the next boston butt I do. Do you think this would keep it more moist throughout the cooking process?

  2. Yeah, definitely. I think I may try liquid injection next time. My buddy gave me an injection recipe that sounds NOM.

  3. word. I need to get some injection needles. TIP: save money and get injection needles at the dumpster behind the Clairmont.