Live-updates: setting up first smoker and smoking a pulled pork shoulder!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by ewanjackson, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. Hmm OK I'll take a look. I guess if you go to 205, you need to foil or it would be as dry as my sense of humour... [​IMG]

    Temp is still rising - 113 F atm which is great news - there was a moment where I thought it would not take off at all.
  2. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    1 more tip and then I will leave you alone. I always use my chimney starter upside down.That way you use more paper to help get the coals going faster. You really need only like a dozen coals going to get things started. I don't think I have ever used mine upright.
  3. Ah OK - there is so much conflicting information on the net! Hard to filter out what is best. Some say to put the meat on straight away while the smoker comes up to temp, and others say to leave it...

    Your help is very very welcome though! At least I have learnt lessons for next time. [​IMG]
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would disregard most of the stuff on the net. This website right here is the best I have ever seen and I have never had a bad cook from all the stuff I have learned from here. Been here since 2006. Pork Butt is very forgiving and as long as you stick to a few rules you will be good to go. Bear's step by step is my go to for basic pulled pork. If you have not tried the search bar at the top of the page try it. You can read for days on pork butt. You will find that there is little variation to the general process. Some people go a little hotter and faster, some foil, some don't. I would suggest you foil that butt like in bear's method as there is not much outer fat to protect the meat from drying out. Plus, it does cut some time from the stall. You will hit a stall at around 160 degrees and I have had 8 hour stalls before where the meat does not increase in temp. or might even drop a few degrees. Last 5 pounder I did took 18 hours. I have had them take half that long too. Every one is different. Just trust your gauges and be patient and vigilant. You will have the best PP in England for your first butt. 
  5. OK brilliant, you have been extremely helpful!

    Internal temp of the meat has gone 50 - 55F and smoker is now up to 131F. All vents fully open. Have had a good read of Bear's guide that you linked and it looks great. Will need to pop out to the shops to get some proper foil I think - the standard stuff in the UK is thin as paper and only about a foot wide - juice would be straight out of that.

    Currently 5:50pm here in the UK, so hopefully it wont be a 12 hour one! Haha   [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  6. 18:00 - 40 minutes in.

    Meat 64 F

    Smoker 145 F
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  7. Seems a lot slow to come to temp than others have reported? I do have a good couple of litres of water in there, and put the meat in already which may be affecting it a bit. Smoker at 154 F now, so still climbing nicely - would agitating the coals help a little? Or leave it and let it build itself?
  8. 18:15

    Meat 72 F

    Smoker 162 F

    Climbing nicely now [​IMG]
  9. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    A disposable foil pan is real good in this situation. But heavy duty foil to top it with is prefered for sure. You want to catch all the drippings once that pork starts to render. That won't happen for quite some time though. If you are using the water pan with water in it you can lose the water and your smoker will heat up much faster as it is taking a lot of energy to heat the water. Lots of folks, me included use sand or pea gravel in the water pan instead of water and lot's don't use the pan at all or use it dry. Either way once you get some good foil wrap the water pan for easy clean up later. I save the drippings and when the butt is resting put them in the fridge for a little while. Then you can skim the fat off the top and use that juice back into the meat once you pull it apart. It is awesome stuff. I put the foil pan below the meat and then add the Butt to the pan once it get's up to 165 and then double wrap with some apple juice, butter and more rub. Oh man I am making myself hungry. I just finished eating a chuck roast I did this way friday and it was soooooo gooooood.
    ewanjackson likes this.
  10. Oh boy, I need to be making notes on this. Been a long time since I've had to do that!

    I will see if I can source some foil disposable trays and we will see for the future :p Feeling pretty good about it right now though.

    I only put the water in as people said it would help to regulate the temperature as the WSM tends to run very hot the first few times! Doh

    18:30 - 1 hour in

    Meat 82 F

    Smoker 180 F
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  11. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Well you are almost up to temp now anyway so I would just go with the way you have it for now. It will most likely evaporate dry at some point during your cook so you can decide what you want to do then I guess. When I did use the water pan I started out with boiling water and that helps a little. It is ok if your temp is a little high anyway as butt is very forgiving. You are right on making notes. I try to write down some details each time for the next time I do the same thing so I don't make the same mistakes again. 
  12. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Just something for you to look at and salivate over while you are smoking that hog leg. Hahaha.....
  13. Yes I started with boiling water straight from the kettle but I'm guess its temp dropped quite quickly.

    Damn man, stuff like that makes me so hungry!!!!


    18:45 - 1 hr 15 minutes

    Meat 92 F

    Smoker 198 F
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  14. I agree with Timber about taking notes on each cook. It will become a valuable resource for you to reference.
  15. Your help has been amazing. Truly!

    19:00 - 1 hr 30

    Meat 104 F

    Smoker 207 F

    Still going up slowly - leaving the water in there for now, might be an option to take some of it out later on - looking at the kettle I used, I put just over 3 litres in there [​IMG]  

    Jraiona, I have an Excel document with the temperatures each 15 mins, then I can make notes at the end on what went well and how to improve it next time. Hoping this is what you mean [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  16. I was worried about the amount of smoke in the neighbourhood - as you can see the houses are pretty close together and the back road inbetween is the primary access to all of these houses.

    Turns out the smoke is barely noticable - it's the faint smoke in the bottom right! Happy with that.

    19:15 - 1 hr 45

    Meat 115 F

    Smoker 217 F
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  17. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would just go with it this time. Fiddling around with it now will just add another hour to your cooking time. One thing I would mention to you is it is a safer practice to not put your probe in until a few hours have gone by. When you probe the meat cold you are introducing bacteria from the outside of the meat to the interior of the meat. Chances are you will be fine to eat your pork as before I knew this I did it just like you many times. I know the recommended food preparation guidelines for Britain is a little different from the states but here the preferred practice is to try to get large muscle meats to 140 or so before introducing anything to the middle of the meat. Just some things to chew on for next time. Our general rule is for if you penetrate the meat cold with injections or temp. probes you want to try and get from 40 to 140 degrees in four hours or less. If you don't puncture large muscle meats beforehand this rule does not apply. Now all that said I am pretty sure you will be ok with what you did. That is another reason not to start the meat out in a cold smoker as you are cutting into your 4 hour window if you have happened to do any of those things. I know. Lots to think about. We here at this site just like to help folks to be safe and make damn good food. Happy smoking. timber. Wade who is a UK member is a food safety pro if you have any questions on recommended practices in your country you could pm him.
  18. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    No not necessarily. Butt's have a ton of built in moisture. To tell you the truth I have never had one turn out dry, especially if you save the drippings and add back in at the end. I would also highly recommend chef JJ's finishing sauce for pulled pork at the end. It is to die for.
  19. Yes I read that in Bear's guide and my heart was like "oh crap". Just before I put the probe in, I had tested both probes in boiling water (212 F) to make sure they were reading about the correct temp,  so I don't feel too badly about it. Again, remembered for the future though!

    Don't worry about overloading me with info though, I'm going to properly look at this once complete and note down exactly what you and others have told me so I have a better plan for the next time.

    Noted about food safety - I've been cooking "normal food" for the last 10 years so I have a good base knowledge but never heard of the 4 hour rule - guess that is just an american thing? The whole USDA thing is really confusing for me :p
  20. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    We call it TBS. Thin blue smoke. If you can smell it and it smells good you are smoking. Heavy smoke is not preferred for a long smoke like what you have going there. Good job!

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