Overnight Pork Butt With Auber Instruments Pit Controller

Pork Butt

     Last week, we decided that it had been too long since we have done a pork butt. It just seems like we have been too busy lately to do an overnight cook. Either we’re out of town, or I’m working a weekend or something else comes up. As much as we like to do them, it just hasn’t fit in with our schedules. This past weekend, or I should say Thursday night as I had Friday off, was the perfect time.

     Not sure how much this butt weighed. Quite frequently, you will find two butt together in a cryovacced package. You might not notice there are two unless you look closely. Together, these two weighed about 19.5lbs. One went into the freezer, either for sausage down the road or pulled pork at a later date. The other one got slathered with mustard and rubbed down with Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust (Coarse).

Pork Butt going on the Egg

     One thing I was really excited about was that this was going to be my first time to try out my Auber Instruments Pit Controller on an overnight cook. If you aren’t familiar with pit controllers, they have a temperature sensor that you place near the meat in your smoker. The pit controller then monitors the temperature inside. If it begins to fall below your programmed temperature, it turns a fan on that blows air over the coals in your smoker, thereby raising the temperature. As it nears the desired temperature, the fan begins to cycle between on and off. Once the temperature has been reached, the fan turns off. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the easy, condensed version that I can understand.

     For this butt, I ran the Egg at 250F, placesetter legs up (wrapped in aluminum foil for easy clean up later), no drip pan, and used a few pecan chunks and some hickory chips.  One problem I have had since getting my Egg, is that long cooks (like butts and briskets) just don’t seem to get the smoke and the black, meteorite-like bark that I used to get with my old offset. So I tried something a little different this time. For the first 4 hours, on the hour, I would lift up the placesetter and throw a couple more pecan chunks and a handfull of hickory chips on top of the coals.

3 hours in

     After about 4 hours in (around 2 am), I decided to call it a night. As this butt didn’t need to be ready until dinner Friday night, I turned down my pit controller to 225 and hit the sack with nary a worry in my head about the fire going out or spiking in the middle of the night.

8 AM, 10 hours later

     Friday morning, I woke up a lil before 8 and went to check on the butt and the above picture is what I saw. The temperature of the Egg was at 223 F….2 degree difference from what I set it at after being left alone for 6 hours. Not too shabby!!

2:30 PM, 16.5 hours later

     Around 2:30 Pm, 16.5 hours after I had started, it was finally done. I know what some of you maybe thinking. “You burnt the hell out of it!”

Another view

     And some are thinking “16.5 hours!! I can do that in less time in my crokcpott!”  Uh-huh…I’m sure you can.

Bone slid out clean

     One way to tell when your butt is done is if the bone slides out clean with no resistance. Or you can just shoot for around a temp of 200. Once this butt was done, it was wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in a small cooler filled with towels to await Mrs. G’s return home from work. At this point, your butt can safely rest for around 4 hours without any worries. After 4 hours, the meat will still be piping hot and will hurt your hands to pull it by hand.

     And for those who can do their pork butt in a crockpott in less time….does it come out looking as good as this?

Hand-shreddable porky goodness!!

After 4 hours resting in a cooler, this butt was still almost too hot to pull with gloves on, but I persevered!!

All pulled

     To go along with the pulled pork, I made a North Carolina-style Vinegar Sauce and some coleslaw from a recipe in Steve Raichlen’s BBQ USA. I’m not claiming this is authentic for that region, so don’t get all up in arms against me if its wrong. I’m just a good ole Texas boy who’s more familiar with brisket than butts. I was just going along with a recipe I found that tastes pretty good to me.

Chow Time!

     This was some smokey porky goodness!! Maybe one of the best butts I have ever done. Adding chunks and chips throughout the beginning of the cook, while a bit of a pain, really helped me to achieve that bark that I had been shooting for. And having the pit controller really eased my mind and allowed me to get some needed shut eye after having an 11 day straight run at work. Was it needed? Probably not, but boys and their toys. It was nice to just kick back and let it do all the work for me.

    9 lbs of pulled pork is a lot of food for just two people. What the hell are we going to do with all those leftovers?

Texas Hot Links

Texas Hot Links

     When I think barbecue, I think brisket and beans and potato salad and of course sausage!! To me, a barbecue just isn’t a barbecue unless some type of sausage is involved. Last year, I decided that I was going to embark on a journey. A journey to start making my own sausage. I’ve been reading books on the topic, scouring the internet and trying to learn all I can, but before this weekend, the only sausage I’ve made was a Kasewurst. This past weekend, I decided that we were going to try to make some more sausage (actually two kinds, you’ll have to stay tuned for the second one).

Two Pork Butts

The base for most sausage is pork butt. It tends to have the ideal meat to fat ratio, so you don’t have to mess around with adding more fat to get a juicy sausage. For our sausage, I got 16lbs of butt, figuring that after deboning, the meat should weigh in at about 15lbs. Not sure if my math was correct, but it seemed like a good idea to me.

Grinding

After the meat has been removed from the bone and cubed up into pieces that will fit into your grinder, it is time to grind….well, almost. Heat is your enemy when it comes to making sausage. The fat begins to melt and there are problems feeding the pork into the grinder. So actually, the next step is to take your meat and all the metal parts of your grinder and place them into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Then, it is time to grind.

Grinding the meat

The grinder I use is a Kitchener #12 which can be found at Northern Tools. Its a great little start up grinder and I have no complaints with it at all. If I ever get into making bigger batches of sausage, I might upgrade, but it made quick work of the two pork butts. Wanna see what two pork butts all ground up look like?

That’s alot of ground up pork!!

I guess at this point I should go ahead and give you recipe I followed.  I had decided for my second batch of sausage, I wanted something with a little more kick….and something that said Texas. After looking around the internet for a while, I kept coming across Texas Hot Links by Kevin Taylor, the BBQ Guru. Sounded like as good a place as any to start.

Texas Hot Links
From the kitchen of Kevin Taylor, the BBQ Guru

1 (6 pound) pork butt
1 bottle beer
2 tablespoons black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons red pepper, crushed
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons kosher (coarse) salt
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1/4 cup garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon MSG (optional)
1 teaspoon Tender Quick
1 teaspoon bay leaves , ground
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon thyme, dried

Mix all spices with beer.
Grind pork for sausage.
Mix beer/spices thoroughly into the meat.
Form into sausage links and grill or smoke.

Spices

Above, you’ll see all the spices measured out. The beer is needed for the sausage, the Jack was needed for the cook. :) After mixing up the spices, and test frying a bit in a skillet to test (and adjust if needed), the sausage mixute goes into the refrigerator overnight for the spices and the tender quick to do its work.

Stuffed

 

Linked!

Ready to be smoked!

One thing I was worried about with this sausage was smoking it. That’s right smoking it, not grilling it. And not just smoking it like you would a normal brisket or butt at around 250. No, we planned on doing this one really low. Like 130F low!  I was worried about starting a fire that low and being able to maintain it on the Egg. See, Eggs tend to like to hover around 250F, or at least mine does. Any lower, and it tends to go out. But I had a plan. I got 3 good size chunks of lump charcoal and lit them directly on my patio. Then, using tongs, I transferred them into the Egg, put in my placesetter (legs up) and then my grate. Next I plugged in my Auber Instruments Pit Controller and set it for 130. If I couldn’t maintain the temperature with that, I figured I was up a creek. But luckily, it worked out.

Egg stabilized at 130, ready to start smoking.

For the first hour, I did not use any smoke. Just straight heat. I will admit, the Egg was wanting to creep up, but I was able to keep it under 135F for one hour.

1 hour in

Maybe this was going to work out. Maybe I was worried for nothing.

Close up

After one hour, I increased the temp to 140 and added a few pecan chunks (that I had pre-lit. I was afraid that they would not start to smoke on their own with such a low temperature and such a small bed of coals) and some apple wood chunks. Once again, I was not able to keep my temperature stable at 140, and it slowly started to creep up. At the end of the second hour, we were already approaching 150. 

Now here is where my plans changed. After 2 hours, I was going to increase it to 150 for an hour, and then 160 for another hour. But my fire took longer to get started than I anticipated (and let’s be honest, I took longer to get started than anticipated), so plans had to be adapted. At the end of 2 hours, I bumped the temp to 175F. 30 minutes later I bumped it to 200. Now we were really facing a deadline. We had made plans to go over to some friends house for dinner and we were running out of time. At the end of 3 hours, I bumped it to 250. Not what I had planned on, but oh well.

Smoking away

Coming up on 3 hours and 30 minutes, I had to take a reading. The last thing I wanted to do was to pierce the casing of the sausage and let the juice run out, but I needed to know and I wanted to be safe. So I chose a link on the end that wasn’t very pretty anyway.

Testing the temp

The sausage ended up taking 3hours and 40minutes to reach 160F (and I figured it would continue to increase in temp until hitting a minimum of 165 after I pulled it). We had done it, not according to the original plan, but we hit our target temp and would still be able to make it for dinner in time.

6 lbs of Texas Hot Links smoked and done in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Since we were heading over to our friends house for a cookout, I decided that we should at least take some of the sausage with us to share….and have them be our taste testing guinea pigs. Let me just say, this was some HOT SAUSAGE!! Not like an overwhelming burn where you couldn’t taste anything else.  More of a back of the throat burn then lighting your tongue on fire. I could definitely taste the garlic as well as the notes the herbs gave it. WE like spicy food, but Mrs. G thought we needed to tone it down on the heat. Maybe all the black pepper, red pepper and cayenne pepper was just a bit too much. Mr. and Mrs. A, also agreed that is was good, but the heat could be toned down a tad. So next time, and there will be a next time, we’ll bring the heat level down a bit, but for a second attempt at sausage, not too bad. And we have plenty left over, vacuum sealed and frozen for later use.

Stay tuned…in the next day or so, we’ll share with you how we turned the other 10 lbs of pork into Hot Italian Sausage!

Kasewurst – My First Attempt @ Making Sausage

This weekend, I tried my hand at making my first batch of sausage. I decided to make Kasewurst, a cheese sausage that has many variations throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The original recipe I had for this was supposed to resemble a cured Bratwurst with the addition of cheese cubes and is similar to one from Switzerland that uses Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese.  Except I didn’t quite follow the directions. Fist, I omitted the cure opting to make it a fresh sausage and second I decided to use a sharp cheddar cheese instead. So was it still a Kasewurst? Or just a cheese sausage? I don’t really know, but I can tell you it was some mighty good stuff.

I will apologize right up front about the pictures. Mrs. G is still in NYC and she took the good camera, so I was stuck using an older one that I am not that familiar with. On top of that, I just didn’t get many pictures of the whole sausage making part. Sorry about that. I’ll try to take more next time.

 

Kasewurst - about halfway done making the sausage and this is what we had already

 

Kasewurst (or Cheese Sausage)

  • 5 lbs of pork butt
  • 10 oz cheese ( I used Cracker Barrell Sharp Cheddar)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper, finely ground
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 12 Tbsp milk
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • * 1 tsp crushed red chilli pepper*
  • * 1/4 tsp cayenne*
  • * 1/4 tsp ancho chilli powder*

* optional ingredients depending on your heat tolerance

  1. Prepare 5 lbs of pork butt by deboning and cutting into 1 inch cubes. Place the meat into the freezer for 30 minutes to chill but not freeze. At this time, it would be a good idea to place the metal parts of the meat grinder into the freezer as well.
  2. While the meat is chilling, cut the cheese into 1/4 inch cubes and then refrigerate.
  3. After 30 minutes, grind the meat with a medium plate.
  4. Mix the seasonings, milk and powdered milk in a mixing bowl.
  5. Blend the meat and the seasonings well by kneading for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add in the cheese cubes to the paste and knead until they are distributed evenly. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours. At this point, it might be a good idea to take some of the sausage and fry it up on a skillet to check seasonings and adjust as necessary.
  7. Prepare hogs casings according to the package.
  8. Stuff the hog casings and twist the sausage rope into links.
  9. Grill sausage within 24 hours or freeze as this sausage is not cured. Make sure to heat until you reach 155-160 and allow carryover to 165.

 

Grilling up some sausage for quality control purposes

 

 I feel like at this point I should give a mention to my friend and teammate from Three Sheets BBQ (eventually we’ll get that all organized and start competing) Big Matt who came over and helped with the sausage stuffing. Neither of us have ever made sausage, but we quickly came to realize with my grinder/stuffer, it is definitely a two-man operation. We had a few blowouts in the beginning, but we soon hit our groove and cranked out that 5 lbs of sausage pretty quickly. Most of it was bagged and frozen, but we felt like we should grill up a few for quality control purposes. I lit the Egg and then threw the sausages on as it reached about 200F, so that they would slowly come up to temperature as the grill continued creeping up to 350F.

Sliced

 Keep an eye on the sausage as it cooks. You don’t want the skin to burst and lose all the juices, so you might need to flip and move it around the grill. I ended up adding my extra rack to lift it a little higher away from the flames to prevent this.

Bad picture, I tried 4x but couldn't get a picture to come out that wasn't blurry.

 I thought the sausage turned out amazing and I’m not sure I will ever buy sausage from a store again. Ok, maybe I will, but it won’t be as good as this. It had a nice snap from the hog casings. It had a nice bit of heat from the red pepper, ancho and cayenne, but it was not overpowering and the cheese complimented it nicely. I thought I might be biased about it since I made it, but Big Matt said it was probably one of the best sausages he had ever had and it had convinced him to go out and buy a grinder/stuffer so that he could start making his own as well. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the sausage, I don’t know what would.

At first, I was worried about making my own sausage. I thought it would be difficult and that I would probably screw it up. But thanks to plenty of research on the web, people’s advice like Mr. Holloway on Green Eggers and Kevin P on The Smoke Ring and Warren R. Anderson’s “Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage”, we made it through the first batch and it turned out to be pretty easy and quite a bit of fun. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m excited to make my next batch. What to try next? Maybe a Bratwurst or a Kielbasa….The possibilities are endless….