Thanks for being patient folks, the story and the results are below.
We had sent out the invitations to my son's birthday party, Sunday December 5th, with a message that said the doors open at noon, food is at 1:00, candles to be blown out at 6. We ALSO specifically asked our guest to RSVP, as we were going to be ordering piles of smoked meat from XXX Smokehouse/Restaurant/local joint. They have great pulled pork. Normally, I'd be happy to cook, but I was in San Jose all week for work, flying home late Friday night.
Friday afternoon, while I was in Houston on my layover, the Darling Husband calls. "Babe?," he says, "We have a problem." I had asked him to order 10 lb of meat, and when he called to place the order was going to be an astounding $15/lb.
"$150?!?" I shouted, positively shocked. I then said some things that are completely inappropriate for a family-friendly forum. Forget it. I am going to cook, if only for principle. I hopped onto the SMF, found meowy's wiki ( http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/wiki/basic-pulled-pork-smoke ) and asked the Darling Husband to go to the butcher and fetch me 10 lb of pork butt. Then I got on my plane.
While I was flying, he found two seven pounders . They were just gorgeous, and at $3/lb a tremendous savings. Darling Husband rinsed them off, patted them dry, then rubbed them down with Beer-B-Q's completely awesome dry-rub (THANK YOU!!) We wrapped them in saran and let them relax in the fridge.
Saturday night, 11:00 p.m. I fired up the smoker and hung my new cabinet thermometer inside. I patiently waited for it to struggle up to 150. It was very cold outside, and just lightly snowing. Then, I pulled the butts from the fridge:
I unwrapped them and placed each one in it's own disposable aluminum tray. My smoker is tall and narrow, so one was going to have to go below the other and flip/rotate them halfway through. Thankfully, I have two remote temperature probes.
I sterilized both probes and inserted to check that they were working properly. Meat was at a perfect 33 degrees.
I bought myself an AMAZ-N-SMOKER from Todd with some of my birthday money. I had not used it before, but filled it with Hickory Dust and got one end lit. (side note: I had not realized my torch did not have any butane in it, so I had to light with a long handle match.)
I have no pictures of what happened next. It was dark outside!
Basically, I got the cabinet of the smoker to 225/250 and left them alone. I watched the gauge. I smelled that pretty blue hickory smoke. It took them about an hour to get to 40 degrees, which is the low end of the safe zone. 3.5 hours later, I was woken up by the beep-beep of the top one hitting 140. I checked the bottom one, and it was at 146. Yay!! Safe temperatures.
I tiptoed outside (what a sight: pajamas, an overcoat and oven mitts!) and opened the cabinet. AMS was pretty much done smoking. The pork had gotten nice and rosy on the outside. I spritzed them down with a mix of Honey Liquor, Lemon Juice & Water. I reloaded the AMS and , as tired as I was, forgot to relight it. Then I went back to bed. I did this every hour-and-a-half until well after sunrise.
At about 5:45, the bottom butt had hit 182, so I wrapped it in a doubler layer of foil, then moved it to the top rack and moved the top one down. At 9:00, the other one was at 181, so I foiled it too. Right about then was when I noticed that I had not re-lit the AMS when I refilled it. :( Silly Princess. They both threw a LOT of juice before getting foiled. I was kinda concerned...
The next three hours was a nice slow crawl. They evened out temperature wise right around 10:30, as they both hit 194 within a minute or two of each other. I was making cupcakes and cornbread, so i let them go a bit longer. I am glad I did.
At exactly noon, I went back outside with my cooler, foil & towels.
The temps were still pretty even.
meowey had said that the top end of done was 205 degrees, so I felt that was pretty okay. I opened up the cabinet. Man-oh-man... the smell that rolled out of there was unlike anything I had ever gotten a whiff of. My stomach GROWLED so loud that it made me giggle. Or maybe it was the lack of sleep. Or the two glasses of wine I'd had. ;)
I peeled off the foil. The color was what shocked me first. It was MAHOGANY. Also? Compared to earlier, when I had put the foil on, most of the juice was gone.
They were SO HARD to lift out of the pan as they were literally falling apart in my hands. I diligently wrapped each butt separately in four layers of foil and a towel, then tucked them into the cooler. The cooler went (for lack of space) into my bedroom. I poured all the juice into one pan, then set it lightly into the snow on my picnic table to firm up.
Close ups of Number One:
...and Number Two:
At about 2:00, as guests were starting to show up and be hungry, I recruited my dear friend Curt to shred meat while I hauled everything else out. He willingly got to work. Curt ALSO took the time to whip up a small pot of his Apple Cider/Brown Sugar "pulled pork juice." I do not know what he put in it, but it made my mouth water!
Pretty shreds were 1/4" of pink down from the surface in places.
The official Bark Tester got to test the bark. Get it? BARk tester? Har-dee-har!!:
Into the crockpot went as much as we could fit. All of one, just a cup or so of the other. I skimmed the hardened fat off of the juice pan and poured what I could into the crockpot as well. We served my two sauces (one sweet, one spicy) and Curt's Vinegar on the side.
The rest got slipped into a pan and also nestled in the snow to cool down. I am glad we had it available, as we did end up needing some of it to refill the crock pot by 8p.m. I have some leftover, but not much!!
The table was pretty full. Green beans with my bacon. Homemade corn bread with honey from my father-in-law's bees. Cupcakes with buttercream frosting. Green salad (tomatoes, green onions & cheese). I had to buy the buns (darn it) because I had forgot to make them.
Just for Squirrel: I ate the one on the far left, top, just for you. :)
My favorite moment was when one of our friends, who had arrived late, was munching his pulled pork sandwich and declared, "Gawd, I really do love XXX Smokehouse!! They do the best darn pulled pork ever!" The room went silent. Darling Husband looked at our friend and said, "No, dude. The Princess *made* all this herself. She was up all night running the smoker."
For my first Pulled Pork, I was pretty happy with it. I really want to try different flavored spritzes, mess around with the smoke dust in the AMS and try making some good pork stock from the bones and drippings. I guess I'll have to hit Beer-B-Q up for some more of his AWESOME rub too!!
I would have never been brave enough to tackle this on my own if it weren't for all the great knowledge and support I get from all of you here at the SMF. THANK YOU for helping me make sure that the Sweet Prince's 2nd birthday was a tremendous success.