My most successful pork smoke thus far

Discussion in 'Pork' started by skorpyon, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. skorpyon

    skorpyon Newbie

    Hi, all!

    Yesterday I smoked a seven-pound pork butt, using Meowey's technique as described in the "Basic Pulled Pork Smoke" sticky post.  The butt was vacu-wrapped, the label said nothing about any added solution, and I did not brine the meat before cooking.

    My wife (she's from North Carolina, and "western style" fan.  I'm from Texas.  Mixed marriages can be tough) described it as "pretty good", which is effusive praise for her :)

    I used hickory chips and chunks in a cast iron skillet, directly on the heating element.  I also had a pot of water on the element to keep the interior humid, although with the rain we had yesterday morning that may have been overkill.

    My smoker has two racks (see below for more details).  I put the meat on the top rack and put a sheet of heavy duty foil on the middle rack to catch drippings.

    I set my smoker to 215 degrees and hit 130 degrees internal after about four hours.  The temperature held there for about two hours, which I thought was the "plateau" that I've read about, but after two hours I started thinking "that's too long", so I upped the temperature to about 230. The meat came up about five degrees, so I figured the smoke phase was done.  I wrapped the butt in foil and pulled the foil off of the middle rack.  After about 15 minutes of rebound time, the meat temperature started climbing steadily, and reached 180 in about three more hours.

    It didn't exactly fall off the bone, but it pulled away easily enough.  I had about a quart of liquid in the foil pouch, almost all of which I captured.  It didn't seem too fatty, but I haven't looked at it since putting it all in the refrigerator.  I figure I can use that to moisten the meat as needed.

    I also smoked a flat-cut brisket that followed a similar temperature profile, except slightly higher due to the higher surface-area-to-mass ratio.  I scored the fat, rubbed it all over the night before and let it set for 12 hours before it went on the heat.  I haven't tasted it yet; I'll let y'all know tonight.

    Lesson learned - don't put a big sheet of aluminum foil between the smoke/heat and the meat, although that sends me back to the drawing board on how to catch the drippings.  I've considered just smoking the meat in a disposable roasting pan, but it seems that would block the smoke from a lot of the meat's surface.  Any suggestions there will be most welcome.

    My smoker:
    home-made WBS, from an oak hogshead wine-aging barrel
    two 22" circular racks, 14" vertical separation
    heat supplied by a Brinkmann electric converter with lava rocks surrounding the element and four 3" L-brackets for "legs"
    heat controlled with a router motor speed controller that I picked up at Harbor Freight.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  2. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    My 2-cents worth, and it probably isn't worth half that.

    If I was going to use water, I'd use it for ribs only.

    For butt, just use a drip pan about the same size as the meat, no water. There is plenty of moisture and fat within the meat for it to be very moist even for a long low-and-slow smoke. Also, it won't hurt butt if you crank the temp on up. I did one Saturday at about 280 degrees to an IT of 205. It weighed almost 9#, and was fall-off-the-bone done, very moist, and ready to pull in 10 hours. If I'd foiled it at 160, it would have been done a lot quicker, but I was going for a good firm bark, so I let it ride.

    For brisket, same deal. No water, drip pan about the size of the meat, but lower and slower, about 225-240. Foil at 165 and take it to an IT of 203. I injected my last one with beef broth (about 1/4 cup) and it was super moist and tender. So moist and tender, in fact, that next time I'm not going to foil to try for a crisper bark. The 203 IT is the trending temp for brisket these days, but you'd still want to poke it with a toothpick to give it a reality check.

    That's how I did my last two smokes and they were great. The butt I did on a stick burner with red oak, and the brisket I did on an ECB with electric mod and router speed control from EBay. Like I said, my advice is probably not nearly as good as most of what you can get on this forum, but that's what I did and it worked for me.

    That black bark was crazy good.

    One stroke with the knife was all it took to slice this brisket.
    yotzee likes this.
  3. skorpyon

    skorpyon Newbie

    Well, my wife's not a big "bark" fan on her pulled pork, and I'm more about the flavor than a hard crust, myself.

    Not sure about cranking the temperature up past 250 - I've heard that bad things start to happen to the smoke that generates at higher temperatures.  As it is, I worry about it some, because I know that heating element gets pretty hot, even at low power.  I put a coiled snake of crumpled aluminum foil between the wood pan and the heat - I should probably test that to see how hot it actually gets.  Maybe this evening when I get home.

    When I foiled the brisket, I added an ounce of a red wine we have that's got a soft finish and a very strong "meaty" flavor.  I pulled the brisket at 190 and let it sit in a pan, covered, for a couple more hours before I put it in the fridge.

    Next time I'll try slightly higher temps, smaller pans, and no water.  With a quart of liquid left at the end, the pork butt obviously had plenty :)  Maybe that'll help more fat to render out, too.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  4. skorpyon

    skorpyon Newbie

    As promised, a report on the brisket.

    Success.  Period, paragraph, end of file.  Once I warmed it back up to melt the gelatin (and there was a LOT of gelatin), it damn near fell apart.  Scrumptious.

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