Hey everyone! I had an idea on a butt smoke which I wanted to pass along today. I wanted to see what the results would be if a smoke were started in the 225-250* range and then pushed at over 300 to reach finished temps. I was thinking along the lines of not over 2 hours at normal smoke temps for a shoulder, and then push it hard for the remainder of cooking time to see how it effects the texture for pulling after it has rested for an hour or so.
So, the gourmet for a no-foiled butt and the SV24 for cold smoked dried pinto beans will provide my smoking mediums for today.
Is low & slow absalutely neccessary for tenderization of tough cuts? Most will say it is, and I would agree with those who do. I want a trial for factual evidence, and today, if the charcoal fired smoker will give me the temps to pull it off, a high temp finish for this smoke will provide the means to see if low & slow for tender pulled pork from the tough shoulder is a must or not. If nothing else, this should put any controversy to rest. Realizing that the butt will suffer less smoke penetration/reation, I planned on starting at normal temps to compensate for this, then building up the heat after a couple hours.
I have a back-up plan for the pork shoulder if pulling will not be achievable as well, so we'll at least be able to enjoy the efforts for today's smoke if the pork won't pull. I have some dry pinto beans which I started soaking in salt water @ 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon for some smoked beans to go with the pulled pork. If pulled pork won't happen, then I can chunk up most of the meat and toss it into the beans...no loss in doing that, IMO. So, either pulled pork or bust, we'll have dinner.
My youngest daughter (about to turn 15) has been showing some interest in learning the craft of smoking meats lately, so she assisted me with grinding and blending the dry rub last night, applying the dry rub this morning, and observed the smoker prep and firing of the charcoal, etc. It is nice to have a younger prospective smoker take interest, and this should be a fun day for her as well. So, I'm explaining some of the basics of what we're doing along the way today.
Oh, here's the dry rub we tossed together last night:
APPLE & RBP BUTT RUB - BASIC
4 Tbls dried ground apple
2 Tbls dried ground red bell pepper
1 Tbls dried minced garlic, ground
1 Tbls dried rosemary, ground
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbls paprika
1 Tbls chili powder
1 Tbls ground black peppercorn
With a scored fat cap, dry rub applied, we're ready to go into the Gourmet charcoaler with smoke provided by one small chunk each of apple & pecan:
I used a form of the minion method by loading my coal grate/cage about 3/4 full of cold briquettes, then laying out 3/4 of chimney of hot coals on top. I ran into an issue with the height of the coals being too high and the water pan was actually resting directly on the coals, so the resulting rapid steam-off of the water was holding the chamber temps in the 220-225* range just below the upper grate where the butt is resting. I pulled a few tricks with reducing the lower intake draft, spacing the barrel up off the rim of the stock charcoal pan for about 30 minutes to get the fire burning a bit hotter around the outside of the coal bed, then, removed the spacers and opening up the main and auxiliary intakes fully.
I puzzled me that the temp didn't want to rise to excessive range, but then with the firing method and close proximity of the water pan to the fire, it all made sense. Also, I only added 1 quart of water, knowing that with less water to steam off, higher temps would be achieved. I made need to add a half quart at a time every 30-40 minutes to reach and hold a 300* (+) chamber temp...we'll see how that works out later.
The pinto beans into the Smoke Vault 24 on the jerky grate for a cold smoke with apple and cherry after a 21-hr soak:
I opened the side intake vents and left my 24" vent stack in place for added draft to reduce smoke stagnation in the chamber due to low heating which reduces draft, placed 3 hot coals in a row on a stainless expanded steel grate, added small chunks and chips of smoke woods, and added one more briq on top/front of the smoke wood and waited for the TBS to begin:
Waiting for smoke:
There we are:
Smoke is coming on slow, but sure, just the way I like it:
Ah, yes, time to close it up and give it 30-40 minutes to smoke the beans:
Temps ran up to 159* on the door therm...I'm not worried about what temp it rose to as much as having proper ventilation of the smoke chamber. 45 minutes and the briquettes had mostly burned up and smoke wood died out.
The butt is in for 4 hours now...I stuck it about 15 minutes after taking these pics and the temp was 158*F @ 4.25 hrs, so I may be able to hit the 195-200* finished temp within 7-8 hours. This was a 7.5lb butt, so that would be a fairly fast cooking time...that's what I wanted for today, just for the purpose of putting this trial smoke up against the low & slow debate:
The scored fat cap looks nice, as expected, and the bark is forming up quite well.
I'm letting the water pan run dry for temp spikes into the 350-400* range for a few minuutes before adding another 1/2 quart, so that's helping me pull the higher average chamber temps. After adding water, it's holding in the ~315-320* range.
I did add another 1-1/3 chimney for hot coals after the 4-hr mark, as the initail coals had burned up nearly 80% of the total I started with, so we should be good to run for another 3 hours, give or take. The higher temp smoke burns up the coals pretty fast compared to when I run in the lower 200* range...lots more air flow through the smoke chamber to keep a hot enough fire. The additional air flow will like effect the overall convection process during the smoke as well, creating more thermal energy transfer to the butt. All in all, much faster than I would normally smoke...probably twice as fast...we'll see how it effects the pulling of the meat tonight.
Internal temp is now 167* @ 5 hours into the smoke...dang, that's a fast climb from the 4.25-hr check...again, that's what i wanted to see for the purpose of this trial smoke.
Thanks for checkin' out my latest experiment! The finish and results to come in a few hours, then we can discuss the relative issues.
Have a GREAT Sunday!!!