Home-smoked pulled pork for my church Christmas party

Last month I was asked if I’d be willing to smoke the pulled pork for our church Christmas party. I of course jumped at the opportunity. It turned out to be every bit as much work I thought it would be (and maybe more so). But it was also so much fun. The ask was to deliver ~40-45lbs of pulled pork. So I started with 80lbs worth, acquired at my local Costco – and at 6-7lbs per boneless pork butt, that turned out to be 12 hunks of meat. My Traeger Texas Elite 32 can handle a maximum of six pork butts at a time, so I knew I would end up with two runs. Due to that I decided to run an experiment. I wanted to see if there if I could determine a difference in the meat (bark, meat texture, tenderness, flavor, etc.) if I cooked at a higher temperature. I typically cook my pork butts at 250°F until they hit the stall and I wrap them (after they’re wrapped I increase the temperature to 275°F). I had more time to cook on Friday, so the first run went at 250°F. For the Saturday morning run, I cooked at 275°F. And here are the general results:

  • Friday cook
    • 6 pork butts / 41.5lbs
    • Cook time – 9hr 15min for 3 butts and 9hr 45min for the other 3
  • Saturday cook
    • 6 pork butts / 39.1lbs
    • Cook time – 7hr 40min for 5 butts (one butt was so small that it got pulled at 5 hours)

The obvious difference was in the total cook time. And that is not necessarily surprising. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the resulting meat was effectively indistinguishable between the two batches. So going forward, I will definitely be cooking my pork butts at the higher temperature. What I did not do was weigh/measure the hickory pellets I used to see if there was any meaningful difference there. Maybe that will be something I do in the future.

Day 1 – Friday

Day 2 – Saturday

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