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First Pork Butt--Advice

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Hi All, this is my first post, but not my first time reading all the great advice on here. 


Here's my dilemma: I bought a pack of butts from Costco--roughly 13lbs so two 6.5lb roasts. I have family coming Saturday and expecting to eat sometime Saturday evening--approximately 4-6pm. That is flexible. It seems too risky to start the cook Saturday morning, but I fear that if I put them on Friday night, the smaller sized roasts will cook quicker and possible dry out before the target dinner time. Should I buy a bigger roast and start it Friday night? Or suck it up and put the two smaller ones on in the wee hours like 1am? I'm planning/hoping for 225 and giving myself a 2 hours/lb of a cook time. 

Any thoughts or advice is greatly appreciated. 

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Those 6.5 pound roasts will not take two hours per pound most likely.  If you want to have them ready for a 5pm dinner, you would want them to finish up at least by 3pm so you can wrap and rest them for a bit before slicing.  If you cook at 225, the 'could' go as long as two hours per pound but not likely quite that long.  I would put them on by 3am.  You certainly can put them on at midnight and let them go and if they finish by noon that is fine too.. .jsut wrap in foil and rest in a cooler covered with towels until you are ready to pull.  If it were me, I would put these on at around 6am and cook at 275ish.  

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I agree with putting them on early morning and cooking at 275/300. You will avoid the stall and get them done in time to let them rest for a while. You will not be able to tell hardly any difference between cooking at 225 and 300 besides the time and a tad heavier bark.

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No need to start them the night before, in my opinion.

I know this is not traditional, and so some may not like it, but I have had great results with it so i'll give it to you as another option (on top of the excellent responses already given).

If I am unsure of the timing, am worried about the pork drying out, or even want to make it a day in advance, this is what I do:


-Prepare the butt as you normally would, spice rub, etc.

-Smoke it at 225 - 275 for hours until a good color and bark form. This can vary depending, but for me is usually 4-5 hours or a little more.

-Then put the butt in a pan ( I use a disposable aluminum pan) that is a little bigger than the butt itself.  Cover tightly with foil, and put it back on the smoker.  If you need to you can also finish it in the oven from this point.

-Finish cooking in the covered pan until it hits 200+.  This usually takes 3 - 5 hours depending on the size and how far along it was before you put it in the pan.

-When it is done and you remove it from the smoker and pull off the foil, there should be a good bit of juice in that pan.  That is the good stuff right there.

-Take the juice that has collected in the pan and pour it into a container, preferably something that is freezer/microwave proof. I use a large glass Pyrex measuring cup.


Here is where things change, depending on when I am going to serve it.


If I am going to serve it the same day:  

Put the container with the juice in the freezer.  This is not to freeze it, but just long enough for the fat to rise to the top and harden.  Usually 15-20 mins.  Then you can scrape the hardened fat off the top (an easy way to de-fat the sauce).  While this is going on, I am letting the butt rest before pulling it.  

When ready, pull the Butt and use the juice to coat the meat.  It gives it a great pork and spice flavor (from your rub) without making it greasy, and keeps the meat moist.  If serving soon, I just cover it with foil.  If serving later, I put in in a slow cooker on low or in the oven on warm.  

I don't douse the meat in the juice, just enough to keep it moist, and sprinkle on a little extra seasoning if desired.  Keep the rest of the juice on the side to moisten the pork as needed.


If I am serving the next day:

I do it similar to the above, except I put the juice in the container in the fridge.  The next day when you go to serve it, you can pull it out, scrape off the fat from the top, and stick it in the microwave to warm up.

I pull the pork while it is still warm, before putting it in the fridge.  Heat it gently the next day in oven on low or slow cooker, with the juice.  It does not taste at all like it was made the day before.


Whew, that looks like a lot all typed out, but in reality it is very easy.  Like I said, not traditional, but I make what my family likes and they love it.  It also takes some of the pressure off of worrying about the exact timing when you have a group and may need to focus on them or on preparing other dishes.


BTW - my profile pic is a pork butt I made this way, shortly before I put it in the pan.

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