First Pork Shoulder - Didn't Go Great

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mayor mcpork, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. I got my intro into smoking this past weekend. I picked up a Masterbuilt Cookmaster propane smoker (model #20050511). I did a lot of reading and emailed the company to get their seasoning instructions. I twice seasoned the smoker by spraying down the insides and racks and then getting the temp above 400 degrees.

    I bought a Maverick dual probe thermometer and did a couple of test runs. I had no problem keeping it around 225 degrees. My initial test runs with mesquite wood chips using the stock wood tray lead to tons of white smoke and then just charred remains. After reading advice on these forums, I put a cast iron pan on top of my stock wood chip pan and used cherry wood chunks. I started cooking a 6lb pork butt on Saturday without water in the pan. I got the smoker to 225 around 6am and then ran some errands around 10am. While gone, my wife called to say that the smoker was losing temp - the flame blew out. It probably dropped to 160 degrees before she got it restarted. She played with the damper for a bit and the temp before getting it to settle in around 245 degrees. Once I got home, I spent the afternoon keeping the temp in the 225-235 range. Around 1pm when the stall was on, I noticed that the wood hadn't smoked/burned so I stuck it back in the stock wood box. The smoker bellowed white smoke for about 20 minutes and then stopped. Around 4pm I added more wood chunks and got more white smoke for a brief period. By 6pm the internal temp was still only 160 so I turned the smoker up to around 280 degrees. By 8pm the internal temp hit 190 degrees. I opened up the door and stuck a fork in the side of the pork butt. It didn't turn all that well but I pulled out the pork regardless since it had cooked/smoked for 14 hours. I understood the rule of thumb to be 2 hours per pound, so I expected it to cook for 12 hours.

    The meat was good but we could definitely tell that the connective tissues had not melted. The bark was perfect and had good flavor from my rub, but the internal meat lacked any flavor.

    My questions are:

    1) What can I do to temper the wood chips/chunks from burning and not producing TBS?

    2) Why would a butt not be done after 14 hours of smoking mostly at or above 225?

    3) What can I do to get better flavor to the meat, or is that just a product of the meat itself?

    Any other tips?
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You didn't mention what type of rub you used.

    Rule number 1    Never leave a smoker until you get familiar with it.

    There is no rule number 2 when it comes to how long it takes to do pork butts.  They have a mind of their own and any number of factors can affect how long it takes to get out of the stall  Many of us will pull the butt when we get tired and put it in an oven to finish off, its not a crime and it is a lot better then getting frustrated and tired.

    I don't use dino fuel smokers so I am no expert about the wood chips but remember that as long as you smell the smoke you have smoke.  Maybe use smaller amounts of chips, wrap them in foil to keep the air out and move the chip tray so it isn't so close to the heat source?
  3. heyer5

    heyer5 Meat Mopper

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I will let the Propane boys handle your Smoker issues. The Flavor of the Pork, especially Pulled Pork, comes from a combination of things. Most important is Good Meat! If it is very lean and pale the taste will suffer and be mild. Good Rub and Smoke plays a part. Good Bark, and some flavorful Finishing Sauce is a bonus. Pulling the Pork and mixing all these items together gives the overall awesome Q. So if you didn't get it fall apart tender and do the mixing of flavors, you are going to be disappointed and typically have  a bland smoked Pork Roast...JJ
  5. Thanks for the responses. For a rub, I used the Memphis Dust recipe from (gulp) another forum. In retrospect, I think that there are a few things that may have happened and/or I should do differently. I should have planned for more time. I might have gotten overzealous trimming off the fat. I should have saved the drippings to reuse with the final product. I also promise to never, ever, leave my wingman/smoker!
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

     Now you are off and Running! The drippings are like liquid Gold. Tons of flavor, I always put them in the mix. As far as finishing Sauces go there are many. If you like a Sweeter KC style PP my Foiling Juice makes a great product. If Carolina Tangy Vinegar PP is your thing SoFlaQuers Finishing Sauce is the ticket. I have even put mine in the PP and SFQ's on the PP Sammy!...Good stuff...JJ
  7. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I'm not famiiar with your smoker but I use a GOSM propane vertical similar to it. When I first started I used wood chips and had the same problem, chips burning up too fast and making billowing white smoke, so I switched to chunks and then found out I was using too much, still had the same problem. I now only use 1 or 2 medium sized (2"X2") chunks at a time or maybe only 1 3"X3" chunk. This will last about an hour and produce a nice thin smoke.

    I just re-read your post and see that you were using chunks (I thought I read chips the first time). 

    You might want to try raising your chip pan a little, not just set another pan on top of it, I think there wasn't enough heat transfer through one pan to the other. You could also try different pans, like the cast iron pan in place of the stock pan. I use a 6X6 metal baking pan and it sits about 2" above the burner. I think you are just going to have to try different heights above the burner and maybe different pans until you find the right combo. It shouldn't be too hard to do and I would do my testing without meat in it. I'm planning on some testing this weekend to try and maintain 120* with charcoal in mine so I can start doing some jerky

    These propane smokers are a leaning experience with a lot of trial and error, but once you learn your smoker it will work great for you. 
  8. The wood was sort of a train wreck by my own doing. I did some practice runs with the stock wood box and everything just went up in smoke - mesquite chips. On the morning of my pork shoulder, I stuck a cast iron pan on top of the stock wood box with a combination of mesquite chips and cherry chunks. Then I left. Nothing burned or really even smoked until I came home with a new, stainless steel smoke box. I put that where the stock box would normally go, and got billowing white smoke with the chunks/chips combo.

    I'm going to start some chicken drumsticks and thighs in an hour or so. I plan to follow the advice here and just use a chunk or two of wood in the new box to see how that goes. Thanks!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  9. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Good Luck! and let us know how it works out Mayor.
  10. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I also have the GOSM type vertical propane smoker and use the stock wood box. I use wood chunks, not chips, and only put in one or two small chunks at a time. I can get about 1.5 hours of medium light smoke. I may add wood only once during a smoke and that's enough for my taste. When I first fire it up I get the heaviest smoke and then it tapers off when the wood gets a char on it and I get TBS for a while. I haven't tried it yet but plan to get the amazing smoker, use that to generate smoke and rely on the propane burner for heat. I also use a disposable foil pan with a small rack like you use to cool baked goods to smoke the meat in. That catches all those good drippings which can be added with some liquid or sauce when you foil for the last stage of cooking. I plan on doing some CSR's today for my first smoke of the season. Will do a post with some Qview in the next couple days.
  11. I'm stupid....should have taken some pics, but the chicken turned out pretty good last night. I only put in 3 or 4 chunks of cherry wood and did indeed get much better smoke. It was low and consistent. I cooked the chicken around 250 degrees for a little over two hours and then kicked it up to around 315 for the final half hour. Everyone enjoyed the chicken although I think that I would have preferred the skin to be more crispy. I'll have to get the high heat going sooner or switch over to the grill to finish them off.

    Thanks for the hints.
  12. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I'm glad it worked out for you! Sounds like you had a good plan. It will just keep getting better and better

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