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How to Cook a Boston Butt

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What's the longest possible time to keep the finished butt in a cooler with some towels? is 6 hours reasonable?

6 hours will work but you're getting to the end of resonable time.

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Well to each his own I guess as I have not used a water pan maybe 3 to 4 times in 20 years and every time the meat came out noticeably less tender with less of a smoke ring and flavor and with the water pan the temp stays dead on rarely fluctuating more than 5 degrees.  Also have never had any mess or drippings from anywhere in fact just the opposite.

Odd how methods can be so completely different from person to person and apparently get the same results.


I would never cook a Butt or Ribs without a water pan or without foiling.

The meat just plain tastes better smoke wise and is more tender.

The foiling not only tenderizes the meat but also collects all that insanely flavorful juice that I inject right back into the meat when I open the foil or sometimes I just put the meat and all the juice in a foil pan and shred it in the juice.


This explains why I have always used a water pan, it surprises me that everyone doesn't but everyone taste isn't the same.



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@Nunyabiz - the link takes me straight to an "Error 404 Dadgummit" page not found.

Remember, Amazing Ribs is generally a site dedicated to a very wide range do cookers, everything from the venerable kettle to pellet poopers to Pit Barrel Cookers to stick burners to lastly the Kamado. Thus their techniques are built to be applicable to the majority of their audience and to get really good Q in the majority of those drafty cookers you need to add water to the system. If you don't add water you'll get something the consistency of boot leather.

I, like you, love those juices. Keep up doing those great cooks!

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how odd.


Maybe this one will work.




I wholeheartedly agree that a Kamado is much less susceptible to the meat drying out than virtually any other style of grill/smoker, in fact, without a doubt a kamado without a water pan is better than a Weber with one as far as moist tender meat. You are absolutely correct about the Amazingribs site they do cater to the lowest common denominator.

And I have gotten decent Butts and Ribs those few times without the water pan but at least to my wife's and I taste buds the meat was noticeably less tender and there was something about the smoke flavor that wasn't quite as good.

But a Kamado with a water pan and foiling the meat, now that's why my wife and I are on a diet currently.

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@Nunyabiz - the most important thing is to please your wife's palate! Happy wife, happy life, right? And if she likes your cooks with a water pan filled with grape juice and wrapped in Christmas Wrapping paper, do it! :lol:

I'm certain it's quite delicious.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've never used a water pan for either moisture or temperature stabilization. I don't like steamed cooks (and at anything above 212° thats what you're doing) and my kamados have always been rock solid when it comes to temperature.

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  • 2 months later...

Great write up. Do have a question though. I am going to do a butt for 10 adults. What size butt is recommended? One big butt or two "smaller" ones?


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I always get better results with larger cuts of meat.


For 10 adults, I would recommend having at least 5 pounds of finished meat.  That means that I'd start out with at least a 10lb boston butt.  The reason for this is that you will trim some fat from that meat and boston butt usually returns about 60% of its starting weight... it will render out 40-45% of its weight during the cook.

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  • 1 month later...

I have one 16 lbs package from Costco, which I assume is two 8 lbs pork shoulders. I have a rub figured out that I like (a Bobby Flay recipe). I want to do a long cook at 225. About how log will this take? I'll be serving in the evening. I was planning on overnight but I can adjust that if it might be better to start in the morning. I also want to figure in the time for letting it set in the cooler and pulling it.

First time with shoulders on my Big Joe.


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