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Old 09-09-2007, 10:26 AM   #1
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Pulled Pork on WSM

Cooked a 2.5lb Boston Butt last night. Rubbed with McCormick Grill Master Pork Rub.



Full charcoal ring of Kingsford. 23 lit added with 3 cherry chunks.
Clay pot base, butt on top rack.

The rub was OK. Not bad for off the shelf. Needs some tweeking.

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Old 09-09-2007, 10:58 AM   #2
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Smokemaster,

I feel for you, brother. A 2.5# butt roast is a difficult piece of meat to cook low and slow in any cooker. The heart of the problem is the ratio of surface area to volume. It's so small, the meat dries too easily. You end up with proportionally too much bark. The bark makes the rub and glaze choices even more important.

Keep at it,
Rich
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Old 09-09-2007, 02:53 PM   #3
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Looks good to me !!!
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:24 PM   #4
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For such a small piece of meat, you had a good smoke ring goin'

Sho looked edible to me! I agree with Boar_D_Laze.....
such a small piece of meat makes rub selection extra important.
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Old 09-09-2007, 04:25 PM   #5
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Good Job on that pork!!!! [smilie=a_goodjob.gif]
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:35 AM   #6
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Looks good to me, nice SR and bark.
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze
Smokemaster,

I feel for you, brother. A 2.5# butt roast is a difficult piece of meat to cook low and slow in any cooker. The heart of the problem is the ratio of surface area to volume. It's so small, the meat dries too easily. You end up with proportionally too much bark. The bark makes the rub and glaze choices even more important.

Keep at it,
Rich
I'm not trying to be a stick in the mud here..........................but I gotta ask...........how is a 2.5lb butt any different to cook than a 10lb butt? It's still the same cut of meat, just a smaller portion. The ratio to surface area idea also baffles me?? If you have a 10lb butt you have more area for rub/bark, with more meat. If you have a 2.5lb butt you have less area for rub/bark but you also have less meat. That's like saying ribs have too much area for bark? I would cook and rub a 2.5lb butt exactly the way I would a 10lb butt, I would obviously use less rub because less would be required due to the size difference and I would also cook it less time because less time would be required because it's a smaller cut.
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:31 AM   #8
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I don't care for McCormics rubs Some of their seasonings are good though
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:37 AM   #9
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A 2.5lbs butt?
That's small as can be.
Looks good man!
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Wolfe
The ratio to surface area idea also baffles me?? If you have a 10lb butt you have more area for rub/bark, with more meat. If you have a 2.5lb butt you have less area for rub/bark but you also have less meat.
Maybe this is worth reading, maybe not, decide for yourselves.

http://www.geocities.com/mileswmathis/size.html a small thesis on the surface area / volume question with respect to the mouse - elephant problem.
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoEzzy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Wolfe
The ratio to surface area idea also baffles me?? If you have a 10lb butt you have more area for rub/bark, with more meat. If you have a 2.5lb butt you have less area for rub/bark but you also have less meat.
Maybe this is worth reading, maybe not, decide for yourselves.

http://www.geocities.com/mileswmathis/size.html a small thesis on the surface area / volume question with respect to the mouse - elephant problem.
Well I read it, but still don't understand Rich's rationale with respect to pulled pork?
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Old 09-10-2007, 01:49 PM   #12
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The moisture lost (and making for dry product) goes through (obviously) the surface of the meat. Moisture loss is dependent on a lot of factors including humidity, cooking temperature, temperature fluctuation, "stall" time, fat content, salt content, etc. But if you were writing a formula all of them would end up with the rate of moisture loss proportional to the surface area. With me so far?

Higher volumes of meat can afford to lose more moisture than smaller volumes. In other words, a 2 liter volume of meat can lose 200 ml (10% loss) and still stay moist, while a 1 liter volume cannot afford to lose the same amount (20% loss). Still there?

Now suppose the 2 and 1 liter pieces each have the same surface area. That means they lose moisture at the same rate. You can see that if they cook the same amount of time, they'll lose the same amount of moisture, leaving the 1 liter piece twice as "dry."

"But hold on," you say. "They don't cook for the same times, the smaller piece cooks quicker." That's true -- as far as it goes. Meats requiring "low and slow" are less about time/weight and more about absolute time in order to get the protetin strands to denature (denaturing is what makes tough go to tender). That's why there are minimum and maximum times for shoulder and brisket. I know you're familiar with the phenomenon.

It's true we're not cooking small pieces the same exact times as we cook larger pieces. But we do cook the smaller pieces longer per pound. By definition, with meat of similar densities (butt to butt, or brisket to brisket for instance), weight is synonymous with volume. When we're cooking smaller pieces of meat, we're left with a situation which requires more time per pound, yet has more square inches of surface per pound. Higher rate of moisture loss per pound X More time per pound = Greater percentage of moisture loss.

QED.

Rich

PS This is part of the reason, everything else being equal, you're better off cooking whole pieces than cutting them smaller to save time.

ON EDIT: The original version of this post started out with a wise-ass remark. I thought I'd edited before I'd posted, and didn't realize I hadn't until coming back from the bathroom.
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Old 09-10-2007, 03:19 PM   #13
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[quote="boar_d_laze"]The moisture lost (and making for dry product) goes through (obviously) the surface of the meat. Moisture loss is dependent on a lot of factors including humidity, cooking temperature, temperature fluctuation, "stall" time, fat content, salt content, etc. But if you were writing a formula all of them would end up with the rate of moisture loss proportional to the surface area. With me so far? NO

Higher volumes of meat can afford to lose more moisture than smaller volumes. Of course it can, it’s a bigger piece of meat. In other words, a 2 liter volume of meat can lose 200 ml (10% loss) and still stay moist, while a 1 liter volume cannot afford to lose the same amount (20% loss).Of course it’s a smaller piece of meat.Still there? I’m here, but I’m not following your rationale.

Now suppose the 2 and 1 liter pieces each have the same surface area. That means they lose moisture at the same rate. How can two butts of different size have the same surface area? You can see that if they cook the same amount of time, they'll lose the same amount of moisture, leaving the 1 liter piece twice as "dry." I wouldn’t cook a 5lb butt and a 10lb butt for the same amount of time, for that obvious reason.

"But hold on," you say. "They don't cook for the same times, the smaller piece cooks quicker." That's true -- as far as it goes. Meats requiring "low and slow" are less about time/weight and more about absolute time in order to get the protetin strands to denature (denaturing is what makes tough go to tender). That's why there are minimum and maximum times for shoulder and brisket. I know you're familiar with the phenomenon. [b] I’m not familiar with any set times as far as BBQ goes, BBQ is done when it’s done. Yes there are “rules of thumb
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:08 PM   #14
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I see.

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Old 09-10-2007, 07:37 PM   #15
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Well that just about settles it for me, from now on I'm only cooking whatever meat I buy and I'm only cooking it until it's done!
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:40 PM   #16
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Rich,

I followed your scientific rational very well and it seemed to make sense to me......
BUT then again, I'm sure I probably haven't had the volume of grill time that Larry
has in his lifetime and I know from mechanics on vehicles.....
"hands on" can teach you VOLUMES more then any textbook!
So I'm SURE I'm missing whatever Larry is driving at.

Either way....I think I took it all in except for the surface area being the same on two
different size pieces of meat......
if you meant surface percentage-wise specific to each piece...then I can agree with you.
If that's NOT what you meant....would you please explain.

thanks, SJ
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:43 PM   #17
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Joe,

Those were two hypothetical pieces of meat. I was trying to get Larry to agree to a clear hypothetical situation before complicating it with proportional realities.

Most of the analysis of real world situations is in the concluding paragraph. To put the whole thing in a nutshell.

1. Proportional to weight and volume, smaller pieces have comparatively greater surface area than larger pieces.

2. Proportional to weight and volume, smaller pieces require more cooking time per pound to reach tender.*

3. Rate of moisture loss at a given temperature is proportional to surface area.

Greater surface area, more cook time per pound, and a higher rate of moisture loss combine to dry smaller pieces more than larger when cooked to the same internal temperature.

*This is because tender results from protein denaturing, which only occurs after a minimum amount of exposure to (gentle) heat. That is part of the reason why butt, brisket and other meats which cook "beyond done and into tender," do not follow a simple time per pound at a given temperature formula as well as more tender cuts do.

I think a basic understanding of how this works helps you plan a little better. For instance, choosing to cook a small piece of butt to the slice rather than the pull stage; or making carnitas. Or by way of another example, closely estimating cook times for party planning. More important, it's fun. At least to me.

Rich
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze
Joe,

Those were two hypothetical pieces of meat. I was trying to get Larry to agree to a clear hypothetical situation before complicating it with proportional realities.

Most of the analysis of real world situations is in the concluding paragraph. To put the whole thing in a nutshell.

1. Proportional to weight and volume, smaller pieces have comparatively greater surface area than larger pieces.

2. Proportional to weight and volume, smaller pieces require more cooking time per pound to reach tender.*

3. Rate of moisture loss at a given temperature is proportional to surface area.

Greater surface area, more cook time per pound, and a higher rate of moisture loss combine to dry smaller pieces more than larger when cooked to the same internal temperature.

*This is because tender results from protein denaturing, which only occurs after a minimum amount of exposure to (gentle) heat. That is part of the reason why butt, brisket and other meats which cook "beyond done and into tender," do not follow a simple time per pound at a given temperature formula as well as more tender cuts do.

I think a basic understanding of how this works helps you plan a little better. For instance, choosing to cook a small piece of butt to the slice rather than the pull stage; or making carnitas. Or by way of another example, closely estimating cook times for party planning. More important, it's fun. At least to me.

Rich
Not sure about #2.
And definately NOT understanding the possibility of #1. ......I'm missing how a smaller piece of meat
would have comparatively larger surface then a larger one.
Unless you're talking about the bigger one being a thick round piece and the smaller lighter one being
flat and very thin like a side of bacon, I must be missing how it's possible.
But I'm thinking a chunk of meat 8"s thick x 16"s wide x 16"s long compared to something
equally as small and shape 4"s thick x 8"s wide x 8"s long
MUST have more surface area?????????????????
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:03 AM   #19
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Here's how # 1 works:

Area is proportional to the square. Volume (and weight) are proportional to the cube. So, let's start with gradually increasing cubes, because cubes are the easiest.

Cube 1, has a side of 1". It's surface area is 6 sq in (6 sides, each 1 x 1), and it's volume is 1 cu in. Even though they're different units let's remember the ratio of 6 : 1. .

Cube 2 has a side of 2". It's surface area is 24 (6 x 2 x 2) and it's volume is 8. So the ration is 24 : 8 which is equal to 3 : 1.

Cube 3 has a side of 3". It's surface area is 54. It's volume is 27. So the ratio is 54 : 27 which simplifies to 2 : 1.

Cube 4, has a side of 4". It's surface area is 96. And its volume is 64. So the ratio of area to volume 96 : 64 or 3 : 2.

A square is like any other three dimensional solid, except that volumes and areas are a little easier to calculate. You can see that as area increases the ratio of area to volume actually decreases.

I've been avoiding going too deeply into #2 because it's not a simple explanation. It's easier to just say "biochemistry," and hope you take it on faith. But apparently that isn't going to happen.

There are a lot of processes which go on in cooking meat. Only one of them is really at issue, but it might be helpful to compare it to another.

When you cook a naturally tender piece of meat, you usually cook it long enough to kill any bacteria and convert some of the amino acids to sugars. As the meat cooks, it also contracts and firms up. This happens because protein molecules contract with heat. This is what happens when you cook meat rare to medium.

When you cook tough meats which have more than their share of a particular class of proteins called colloids, you can cook it "beyond done and into tender," by cooking it low and slow. After the proteins have been exposed to a certain minimum quanta of heat energy for a certain minimum amount of time, the protein strands actually start to relax and unwind. This is called denaturing. When this happens, the meat becomes tender.

For our purposes, the important thing to focus on is the requirement of a minimum amount of heat and time. It doesn't matter how small the piece of meat is. It has to be exposed to that minimum before the proteins will denature.

What this means as a practical matter is that a 3 lb brisket will take 4.5 hours to cook at 250 (because it takes a minimum of 4.5 hours to get brisket tender, or 1.5 hours/lb , and a 10 lb brisket will take 12.5 hours, or 1.25 lbs per pound. (These times are actually very close). Pork times are similar. You don't have to take these times on faith. If you get recipes from folks who cook a lot of pieces, like www.virtualweberbullet.com you'll see that they allow a little more time per pound than people who cook full cuts.

Clearer now?
Rich

PS As an interesting aside: Once you get into really big cuts, like whole hogs or beef primals the time gets cut (proportionally) even shorter because the thickness of the meat is more important than its weight.
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:31 AM   #20
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I've always been taught that your target cook time to weight of meat in the world of BBQ should be an hour of cook time per pound of weight, and you should adjust your cooking temps to achive that time frame.

Tim
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