130: Holiday Day BBQs, 2011!

Christmas Eve BBQ:
50 pounds of Boston Butt (pork shoulder) at 5am
Mid-morning, smoking away at 250 degrees

Smoke on the driveway!

Old Pawpaw checking out the butts...

Done at 3pm, with a nice bark and 203 degree core temperature.  The meat just fell off of the bone, and the smoke ring was almost an inch deep all around.  Wrapped them in a towel and encased them in a cooler to sit until I pulled them at 4:30pm, with dishwashing gloves to protect my hands from the heat.

Some of the pulled pork -- that's just pan #1.

Boys making yeast rolls for pork sandwiches!

Thanksgiving BBQ:
We have much to be thankful for, most of all our family and friends.  What better way to celebrate their love and camaraderie than breaking bread?  Or smoking 56 pounds of pork and poultry.  So, Thanksgiving morning, at 4:30am, I started a fire.  Here is a pictorial chronology!

4:30am -- starting the Kingsford comp charcoal.  Mainly to ignite oak chunks that I debarked and split. 
Those butts went on at 5am.  The turkeys went on at 7am.  I foiled the butts when they stalled, around 8am.
Fatties went on with two hours left, around 11am.  They only need to cook up to 165 degrees and absorb as much smoke as possible, so here I added lots of fresh oak to the firebox.  The driveway smelled like smoky paradise.   I mashed three pounds of locally-raised and produced breakfast sausage flat over three latticeworks of bacon, sprinkled dry rub and cheese on the inside surface, and rolled them into tight logs -- this is a fun little "extra" practiced by elite BBQ athletes in competition, toward the end of their longer cooks.
Angus came out to inspect at 7:15am and stayed for 2 hours in the 28 degree morning.  Pawpaw expresses his admiration.
Michael Faughn, encouraging the meat to cook the best way he knows how!  Dawn broke, but his voice never did.
The turkeys came out perfect -- after brining for 24 hours and smoking on oak for 6.5 at 250, they were juicy smoky goodness!
I took the butts off when they reached 203d, after about 8 hours, and wrapped them in a cooler for another hour before pulling them.  Amazing.  Great smoke ring, too!
The fatties were great -- I'm always doing that bacon thing, from now on.
Mike's wife Axelle, from France, brought some amazing foie gras, which was sublime on the fatty, washed down with a bit of pinot noir.
Smoke ring on the bird!  The carrots it sat on to keep it off the cast iron were amazing, too.  Smoky and full of turkey broth...


  1. Wow, that looks great! What do you mean by the butts 'stalled'? and smoke ring? Thanks in advance.

  2. Good question! When cooking low (250ish) and slow, large hunks of fatty meat like Boston Butts, hams, briskets, and such will gain temp on a linear path. Then, around 140d, they can "stall" or seemingly stop increasing in core temp. That's because they're sweating moisture, just like you and I, and losing heat. By foiling them, you're basically putting them in a rubber suit on the tread mill. This'll get the temp past that stalling point, at which time they'll gain heat faster than they lose it. Butts should be 200-205 in order to pull apart into moist BBQ, and it takes a long time to get there (8+ hours). This method avoids impatiently cranking up the cooking temperature, which can dry out the meat.

    The reason I wait until 140 or so (about 3-4 hours) is that, while it'll absorb smoke the whole time, meat pulls it in maximally at lower temperatures, during the first half of the cook. The smoke creates a pink outer layer called a "smoke ring." Many consider this to be the mark of good BBQ.


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I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.