Is my smoker too fast?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by johngalt, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. johngalt

    johngalt Newbie

    I bought a Green Mountain Grill Danial Boone WiFi smoker a few months ago. It's an electric-element pellet smoker. I've been grilling for 15 years with MUCH success on propane grills, but smoking meats is proving to be more difficult to feel like I'm doing it right.

    I have now smoked turkeys (lots of them) with pretty good success, and beef brisket (limited success), I tried a corned beef brisket that was mediocre. Tonight I'm smoking a 5LB pork shoulder. Here's the problems I seem to have:

    The beef brisket was 8.5LB, and I smoked it at 185F (grill temp) for 6 hours, Then 150F for 10 more. The bottom half inch was dry and almost impossible to cut. Flavor was stellar, but seemed overcooked.

    The corned beef brisket I set on tin-foil. I smoked it at 150F grill temp until it reached 175F Internal Temp. This only took 3 hours, and the meat was quite tough at that point when I cut off a taste of the meat. It seemed weird to me that the meat's IT would be higher than the grill's temp. I read online that corned beef has to get some higher temperatures to break down the harder tissues, so I turned up the grill to 225 for an hour, then back down to 150 for 2 more hours. Flavor was awesome, but it was a little tougher than expected still.

    Tonight's pork shoulder has raised similar questions.It's a 5LB roast. I thawed it in the fridge for three days. Tonight I pulled it from the fridge, rinsed it well and dried it with paper towels. I then let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Then I slathered it with yellow mustard and packed on my seasoning (brown sugar with a variety of spices). (I didn't end up injecting garlic as I had planned) I had preheated the grill by turning it on and up to 250 for 15minutes, I put the meat on at 10PM (it's 35F outside), on a single layer of tin-foil and put in the thermometer probe. 

    After an hour, I turned the grill down to 150F. The IT was 110F already. When the grill temp had fully dropped, I removed the tin-foil underneath it. It has now been two hours and the IT of the meat is 152F.

    The smoker is set to keep the grill at 150F. Still the meat temperature rises. Unless someone on here has a better idea, I'm planning to leave it as is until morning, another 6-7 hours. Then when I wake up, the plan is to wrap it in tin-foil and put in a teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar (my friend with a Traeger recommends this). Then turn it up to 250 for 45-60 more minutes.

    Any insight on the physics of my smoker compared to others on here? Anyone have any suggestions? I appreciate any comments. Thanks in advance!

  2. Hello.  I have read these same complaints before.  I used an offset sick burner for years.  Because of the way the offset works you have to spend time "tending" the meat.  The firebox end is always hotter.  SO! You move the meat and turn the meat as needed.  Just seems to me the side of the meat toward the heat source will always take on more heat and thus may become dryer.  Maybe try turning the meat every hour or so.  I know many folks say they have that "set it and forget it" smoker and if so more power to 'em but I have just always been more "hands on".  Just my humble opinion.  Keep Smokin!

  3. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm kind of confused as to how the meat could reach an internal temp of 175 when the grilling temp was only 150.   Even cooking direct, I don't think this is possible.   Have you verified the cooking temp with another temp probe ?
  4.  Same advice here. You can't get meat to 175° in a 150° chamber. You need to put a known accurate probe at the same location as the meat to see what temp you are actually cooking at. 

  5. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I am not too familiar with pellet grills, but as others have stated, I would confirm the cook temps are correct. I only ask because I have done this before. Is the temp setting Celsius or Fahrenheit? 150 C = approx 300 F and 250 C = aprox 480 F, so I would double check that. It happens more often than you think to proffesionals.
  6. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    I agree with Jeramy, something is wrong with either the smoker or the thermometer.  You can't get a piece of meat to 175 cooking at 150.  I own a pellet smoker (Rec Tec) and have not had any of these issues.  Good luck.

  7. Hey!  Maybe it was and old cow going through menopause.  HOT FLASHES!!    The wife says she sympathises with the old cow.  [​IMG]   Dry on the bottom is problem 1; sorry I didn't address problem 2.  I agree with the others on problem 2.  Something is not reading correctly.  Keep Smokin!

  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Picture in OP's post clearly shows that temp is in Fahrenheit, so I am thinking that either the unit is defective or the probe was not positioned correctly. I agree with the others that you can not get an IT that is higher than the cooking temp.

    I also do not understand why you would cook at such low temps, you are risking food poisoning, especially on the large cuts of meat. See the Introduction to the Food Safety forum for an explanation of the "40°- 140° rule".
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  9. johngalt

    johngalt Newbie

    Thank you all for your comments so far. I have some more information now.

    First of all cliffcarter posted:
    I've been lowering cook temperatures because my meat is cooking too quickly. At this point I'm certain that the thermometer that measures my grill temperature is defective somehow. For my smoker, this is a huge problem because the smoker automatically feeds pellets into the firebox to accommodate this thermometer and the temperature I set. It's automatic, so I can't slow it down. I spoke with the local rep (my brother) this morning and he has a new thermometer I plan to install this weekend.

    As for risking food poisoning, I had the meat up to 190+ for an hour or more before eating it. With the meat over 145F for even 10 minutes internally, any bacteria from pork would die. Your concern is that if my smoker was set to 150F for hours on end, there would be areas that never reached 145F and had been festering bacteria that whole time. Never fear, I personally like to go way beyond safe internal temperatures with anything but beef. Beef, I push the limits. It's the Brazilian traditions in me, probably.

    Here's the rest of the story of my smoke (with Qview):

    I did as planned (as I posted):
    ... except I didn't turn it up this morning. When I checked it (twice, once with my kitchen thermometer I know works), the meat's internal temperature was 190F. So I wrapped it in tin-foil and splashed in some apple-cider-vinegar and let it sit for 90min or so more. Pulled it out at 192F.

    It looked and smelled amazing. It was difficult to let it sit at all! I let it sit for 20-25 minutes at room temperature, and then pulled out the end-bone (effortless), and cut off an end. It fell apart as I cut:

    So I pulled the rest apart with two forks. I took it to work and it was gone very quickly. It was excellent. Judging from other people's results cooking pork shoulders, I'd estimate that my smoker is heating up 40% higher than set because the grill thermometer is bad (or the computer's connection or configuration). So when I'm expecting 150F, I'm getting 210F. And when I started the smoker at 250F, it was actually closer to 350F. That would explain why it heated up so quickly and why my smoke-ring isn't as deep into the meat as I'd hoped.

    Still a great smoke, and I'll do better next time. I can't wait to see what's possible with properly calibrated thermometers! Okay one more picture:

  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try putting the meat on a rack on a sheet pan to keep the direct heat off of it.... I'm not familiar with that grill per se, but dried out meat on the bottom suggests too high of a heat on it.....
  11. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Now I understand why you had the temp set to 150°, I did not infer from info in your original post that you suspected that the readings you were getting were off. So it seems that there is a defect in the grill thermometer. Technology is such a marvelous thing.

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