Author Topic: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???  (Read 1411 times)

Offline timberbeast7

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Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« on: December 20, 2012, 01:47:11 pm »
I'm new to smoking and need some help.  I've been getting ready to start smoking my homemade sausages and understand the need for curing with nitrates to prevent botulism.  I want to do a pork butt to make some pulled pork for Christmas but I don't if I need to "cure" the pork butt.  I would think conditions (temp/humidity) that promote botulism in the sausage while smoking would also be present for the pork butt but I see a lot of recipes that don't include "cure".  So what's the deal with smoking whole muscle meats, is there a need for cure?  What would be the benefit of "curing" these if it is not required?

Offline mikecorn.1

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Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2012, 02:01:56 pm »
No need to use cure for making pulled pork. I will usually go 225F or a bit higher till an IT of at least 195 or go to 200F


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Offline ocarolina

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Re: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2012, 02:04:05 pm »
I am also new here, but I have been smoking meats for a few years.  I will take my best stab at answering, and anyone on the forum can feel free to correct me if necessary. Cures are needed when smoking at lower temps to prevent botulism for foods being in the danger zone (roughly 40-140 degrees) for extended periods - in an anaerobic environment (lack of oxygen).  I have smoked port butts/shoulders and done them in both electric smokers and charcoal smokers.  I have always tried to maintain a 225 degree temperature for a low and slow smoke/roast.  I did 2 butts last week for the first time in the Bradley, and had the lever all the way to the right with the vents almost open all the way.  It got up to about 230 at the max temp, but hovered mainly at the 225 on the probe.  The only other thermo. I have is a probe thermometer for the internal meat temp so I am not sure of exact air temps.   I left them for 4 hours of smoke (hickory) and in the smoker for 12 hours.  Honestly, they should have stayed in another hour or two for a more tender meat.  The smoke was perfect, but some parts in the interior were not as tender as I wanted.  It is a learning curve - but if you are smoking a whole butt, you do not need a cure.  You cannot smoke at low temps though for a muscle meat piece.  Sausages, bacon, canadian bacon, hams, etc need a cure, preferable with #1, TCM, instacure, prague powder, etc.  Unless you are drying meats like pepperoni, salamis, and Spanish chorizo types of sausage, you will most likely not need cure #2.  I am an organic freak about foods, but always use cure #1 in my smoked sausages for foodborne illness reasons.  It will make the meat stay pink - like ham and bacon. 
 

Offline timberbeast7

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Re: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2012, 02:13:35 pm »
Thanks for the quick replies!  I was trying to wrap my head around why cure one and not the other.  The difference is, from what I'm reading and understanding, that when smoking sausages you use a lower heat (<170 F) and when doing whole muscles you use a higher heat (>170 F).  Smoking the meat at a higher temp (>170 F, even if the internal temp (for example prime rib) is less than 150-160) will prevent/kill the botulism.  The use (or not use) of cure is cooking temp dependent, correct?

Offline EZ Smoker

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Re: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2012, 02:18:38 pm »
As for the science that pertains to cooking and botulism, I can't help you, but I can tell you that I, and most (if not all) of the folks that frequent this forum cook our pork butts without any curing. 

As for me, for pork butt, I put in plenty of smoke (7 hours of hickory, though most people use less, and some prefer apple, or whatever), and I cook at 225 until it reaches an internal temp of 190-195 or so.  That takes many hours, but the smoker does all the work; I just sit back and wait.  Then, when it comes out, I wrap it in aluminum foil, wrap that again in a towel, and put it in a cooler box to keep it very hot for a couple of hours.  This FTC (foil, towel, cooler) process allows the internal temp of the meat to stay in the 175-195 range for a very long time without the risk of overcooking and drying it out. 

Another advantage of FTC is that it will keep your food very hot for a long time... if you need to FTC for four or five hours to time your meal, then go ahead.  I have FTC'd for 5 hours and taken the pork butt out, and I couldn't touch it because it was so hot. 

As for seasoning, I use Grub Rub only, but many people use other things.  I sometimes slather on a coat of yellow mustard to help the Grub Rub stay on the pork.  You don't really taste any of the mustard flavor.   

 
It may seem like I'm rubbing salt in the wound, but the truth is I'm trying to cure it.

Offline Wildcat

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Re: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2012, 05:03:43 pm »
If you cook at a cabinet temperature of 190+ F and take the meat up to a temp of 175 to 200 you will be fine. Most on here cook at around 225 to a meat temp of 190. I cook at 205 to a meat temp of 175 to 190 (depending on the fork test for tenderness). 4 hours of applying smoke it plenty. You should not have any problems with the nasties.
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Offline FLBentRider

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Re: Pork butt question. Do I need to cure before smoking???
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2012, 05:48:41 pm »
IMHO:

The other thing to consider is that there is a significant difference between whole muscle meats and ground meats when it comes to food safety.

With the whole muscle meats, the primary concern is with the exterior of the meat, and that surface will be out of the "danger zone" much faster than the interior meat. That interior meat has not been exposed to processing, exterior air etc.

Ground meat, on the other hand, has had its entirety exposed to air, grinders, Stuffers, bowls, casings, etc. There is a much greater chance that the interior of the sausage has been exposed to more bacteria that the interior of a pork butt.

Combine this with lower cooking temperatures, less than 170F, and you have the basis and the need for cure.


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