First time smoking pork shoulder-advice needed!

Discussion in 'Grilling Pork' started by thebbc1, May 24, 2013.

  1. thebbc1

    thebbc1 Newbie

    Hello all,

      I am going to smoke my first pork shoulder for a memorial day barbecue.  I picked up a whole shoulder from a local meat locker, where I watched them cut it straight off the split hog.  It weighs close to 25 pounds including skin and quite a bit of bone.  I am planning on smoking it on my regular 22.5" Weber one touch grill.  This is quite a big piece of meat to do on a normal grill, so I would like some feedback if you think my plan will work out.

      My cooking method will involve a combination of charcoal and actual wood coals.  I will light a mother fire in my fire pit with hickory and mesquite chunks, possibly others too if I can track a supplier over the weekend.  At the same time, I will start coals in my chimney starter.  I will then transfer some of the hot coals into a basket on one side of the grill and put the shoulder on the other side.  I am somewhat concerned about the clearance.  How far away from the direct heat does the meat need to be?  I will add a combination of wood chips and live wood coals to get my smoke.  I am going to put a drip tray under the meat to collect pork fat to make some cornbread as well.

      How long do you think it will take to smoke it with this method?  Also, do you think it is possible with my regular grill?  I have heard an hour and a half per pound for boston butt, but that seems excessive for the whole shoulder.  

    Thanks for all your advice,

  2. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would recommend breaking it down into a picnic ham and a butt. It is hard to raise the internal temp above 140 in 4 hours at low smoking temps. It is not safe! If you break them up and remove the skin they will cook better and you will have more surface area for bark.
  3. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I agree with Todd, that's a pretty big piece of meat and 1.5 hours/lb is not excessive at temps below 240*, I've seen them go 2+ hours/lb.

    I see this is your first post here so when you get a minute would you do us a favor and swing by "Roll Call" and introduce yourself so we can give you a proper SMF Welcome, Thanks!
  4. thebbc1

    thebbc1 Newbie

    Yeah, I know I'm trying to do things the hard way.  I will yield to your good advice.  I will probably lose some of the bone if I break it down.  After that, would you plan on 1.5hrs a pound?  How do people get the internal temperature up high enough for a whole shoulder or a whole hog for that matter?

  5. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Ben.

    The distance your meat is from the fire depends on some variables that are hard to determine without knowing your grill, which I don't.  It may likely take some experimenting on your part to get it just right.  The cooker temperature at the food grate level for a pork shoulder and/or butt is generally in the 225-250* range, so put a thermometer you trust is accurate on the grate, then play with your fire and your grate position until you get it close to target temp and fairly consistent.

    I tend to agree with Todd about the sheer size of your piece of meat.  It can be done, but would be much easier if it were in a couple cuts instead of one whole piece.  The general rule of thumb for expected cook time for pork shoulder/butt is 1.5 to 2 hours per raw pound of your cut of meat.  Do the math and you know you're gonna be in for a looonng smoke!  If you cut the shoulder into a picnic and a boson butt of roughly equal halves, you'd also cut your cook time in half, and as Todd already said, you would also greatly reduce the danger of not getting the meat safely through the 40-140* danger zone in 4 hours.

    Good luck!  Be sure to show and tell us how it turns out!

  6. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As stated , the hunk should be divided or you will be 40 hrs. or more cooking it to finish pulling stage.

    Butt is very forgiving and will please you much. Just be patient and let her do her thing. . .

    Takes time ,1.5hrs./lb. @225*F , even then you'll most likely need several more hrs, to tenderize it. The timing is just a rule of thumb and a good Therm. is needed here to watch for that 165*F,if you intend to wrap in foil to finish - or - leave it as I do (unwrapped) and get the Bark you know you love.

    When done it will be fall apart juicy and the bone will slide out easily. Add Craig's finishing sauce and you've created a Masterpiece.

    Good Smoking , good times and good luck(you'll do well) on you Memorial Day cook.

    Have fun and as always . . .

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