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:) 3rd test, might need Pop's help

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

Quoting the great forum smoker and with Pop's experience.  I am :  Planning my work,, then working my plan.   I want to do a nice pulled pork or ham for the holiday,, I have a week now to prepare.  I have called several butchers and I cant seem to find a freshly cut butt or shoulder around 15#, which is what I was hoping for. Butcher said that would be from a 1000# hog and they dont grow them that big here in Indiana.  I can get a couple freshly cut 10#'s.  The local grocery has some 12#'s or larger processed ones, is there that much difference when smoking for pulled pork ?  In your opinion,, should I go for fresh or something from store ?


My plan is too brine it for 12 hours, and add in a cup or 2 of freshly pureed pineapple pulp to brine.


The leftover pineapple,, I want to simmer on stove to reduce it,, then put in my little dehydrator and get some chunks/flakes which I can add to rub.  Now if I end up going with a butt instead of ham,, will swap that with apple but you get my general thought.  Just trying to give myself plenty of time to work this out for the holiday.


This is all going to take a couple days to prepare before I even pick up the meat, butt, shoulder or ham.  I kinda need a thought on what to go for :) 


Thanks in advance for any advice.

post #2 of 50

Tender is tender no matter if it came from a 200lb`er or a 1000lb`er and you can make it taste anyway you want to with the spices you put on it and in it. I do not think it matters.

post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 

Fresh cut from hog or processed bought from store,, does it make that much of a difference ?  I know store bought is always precooked some and of course loaded with preservatives. 

post #4 of 50

A fresh ham is difficult to get, even at Easter; I didn't do one this year simply because of that.


However, butts and shoulders would work just fine, and definitely go with two or more smaller ones vs. a big one - they'd be more tender.

post #5 of 50
Originally Posted by LarryM View Post

Fresh cut from hog or processed bought from store,, does it make that much of a difference ?  I know store bought is always precooked some and of course loaded with preservatives. 

If you go with a processed cut, don't bother with a brine...the meat will already have a salt solution which will stop your brine from doing anything...a brine can't penetrate a salted meat unless you go with a higher salt content, which in most cases will be too salty to eat, and will require long-term soaking for salt removal similar to that for a high-salt brine-cure. Even cryovac packaged pork is usually injected with a brine, as with most cryo chicken.


If you're set on brining, go fresh cut, and for large cuts, give it at least a 24-hr soak...36-48 would be better.


Another option would be a Smithfield ham, if you can find one. Not at all expensive (at least in my area...1.69/lb, if I recall, at walmart), reduced salt, very little preservation other than the curing process, cold smoked, partially cooked...label says to cook to 138* minimum, if I recall. Smoked one several weeks back...mighty fine eating ham. If you want to pull it, keep the humidity moderately high...foiling @ 160* or so would be the best...take it to around 200*, or until the bone works easily when you give a tug and twist. Foil/towel rest for several hours before pulling. Pulled ham is a nice twist to pulled pork, if you're up for a change.


With the Smithfield ham, I've used a milder dry rub, then, a few applications of glaze after the first 6 hours in the smoke...hmm...maple/butter seems to ring a bell. With a good ham such as a Smithfield, you don't need to get fancy with rubs and such...it's already a great flavor...you just need to cook it up.


Have a great smoke!



post #6 of 50

Sounds like a great thread!


Don't forget the Q-view!

post #7 of 50
Thread Starter 

Boss desires come first :)  She just picked up a 13.98 boneless shoulder from her dad's favorite butcher (she waits till I get frustrated, then tells me  :) ).  I guess that is what I am going to go with.  It is fresh, unfrozen, no chemicals added.  I am still planning on brining for about 14 hours, with standard brine mix minus a couple cups of water so I can put in some fresh local apple juice and a few spices.  I have some fresh diced apples, cloves, ginger, sage, marjorham, and a quarter of an orange now simmering in a little pot.  Am trying to mix savory with sweet and acid like they do on food tv.  Not sure what to do with it yet,, do I inject a little or just slice fat and baste, or maybe just add to brine,, lol.  She wants it perfect but yet has no idea what she means by perfect :)  I havent even started brining process yet, just trying to think of what I can do, too add that extra kick.  I think I am going overboard and putting too much out there.  I love the taste of just plain nice juicy pulled pork.  How much flavor is actually absorbed from injection or from adding to brine ?  she likes strong flavors,, I am a smoker so my taste buds are shot anyway.  Dont want to go overboard :) 


I should add,, she likes the bark and even the dry meat for about 1/4 inch below.  Why do wives make it even harder to do something :)  2nd or 3rd thought,, think I will just add it to the brine.  Once it is all simmered down will be too strong of flavors.  Mixed with the brine,, it will be diluted and hopefully just be absorbed with salt water, not quite as strong but some good spices for flavor.  That will be about Wednesday I think before I start the brine process.




Edited by LarryM - 8/29/11 at 8:29am
post #8 of 50

Hmm...is that $13.98 or 13.98lb??? (that would have to be the whole shoulder)


I just got to thinking about it being boneless...can't be treated as intact whole muscle meat, unless you lay it open, butter-flied. That goes for injecting as well...that's why Ilike bone-in butts, and I rarely, if ever, inject my meats. With the intact whole muscle guidelines, you can slow everything down and relax, as long as you're pulling around 225* smoke chamber temp for those larger cuts...you don't have to worry about the internal time/temp issues...just let it smoke away at it's own pace.


Personally, I hate (I hate that word)...OK, I despise boneless butts, just for that reason. The internal time/temp constraints can get pretty dicey with normal smoker chamber temps.


As for the brine, it won't take on as much flavor as you would think, even with a fresh cut shoulder, especially with less than a day soak-time. I wouldn't worry about it getting too strong.


OK, so for processing, you have a couple choices, IMHO. You can leave it as a closed boneless butt and cook by the 41-141*/4-hour guideline, which in this case injection wouldn't change anything, so inject it with some brine for a bit stronger flavor of the brine. Or, butterfly method and go by intact whole muscle meat guidelines and don't inject. If you cook it butterrflied, you can likely drop chamber temps a bit after the first hour or so to slow down the internal meat temp climb rate just so it doesn't cook too quickly. Tough cuts like the shoulder need low & slow, and the smaller the piece is (thinner, lower cross-sectional density)  the lower the required chamber temp to keep a slow temp climb. If you start @ 225*, then drop to 215*, maybe 210* depending on thickness. Oh, to maintain intact whole muscle meat guidelines, don't stab a probe into the meat for the first couple hours, either.


Anyway, that's the main decisions regarding cooking it, as I see them, and how I'd go about bringing it all together. Boneless isn't the best route for butts, however there is the butterfly and reduced chamber temp to compensate, so no big deal. Just depends how you want to go about it.


Your brine could actually be considered a marinade, due to the addition of acidic ingredients. If you elevate the acidity even more, you could reduce some of the salt content and treat it as a straight marinade. Then, just add the bulk of any salt into your dry rub blend.


Have a great smoke!



post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 

13.98#'s .  So the guesstimate, about 20hours or so smoking time at 225f.  I am just gonna go with brine/apple juice, then a rub with some powdered apple chips added to mix.  will toss it in and walk away for about 4 hours, then check water/wood chips,, refill as needed then walk away again.  Somewhere around 10 hours I will check internal temp, water n wood chips.  hopefully by then I will have hit the stall period,, then walk away again.  I promise to be patient :)  after 12 - 14 hours, I will check again, should have a better idea of where to go from there.  Boss told me no spritzing,, she strongly enforced the idea that she wants good crust n crispy outer layer.  I will check its cut when I unwrap and put in the brine,, until then,, no need to get my paws in there messing around with it and being a computer guy,, knife in my hands not always a good idea :)

post #10 of 50

Woah!!! That's a big shoulder! Might wanna figure on at least 24 hours on that one. I had a 9lbr run over 25 hours...then, I've had 'em take 16-18 hours, so figure at least 2-hrs/lb, and possibly 2.5+, unless it's butterflied. Then, I couldn't say what it might run, as I've never tried that with a butt...that should cut time by 1/3 or more, though.


Every piece of meat acts differently, and different smokers will have varying degrees of convection efficiency, but I tend to end up with wicked long smokes on butts the majority of the time.


Yea, just be patient and allow lots of extra time. It may prove to be a monumental smoke, but a great one to get under your belt as well...nothing like being able to look back on it learn form the experience of it all.


I'm rootin' for ya!



post #11 of 50
Thread Starter 

:)  yea,, I know its gonna take a while.  I do have a concern though that maybe you more experienced smokers can answer.  Once it is on smoker for say 6 hours or so,, it should have a nice crust.  If I do my internal temp checks.  Will I be okay,, I dont want it dried out on the inside.  Am hoping that low n slow will keep inside moist.  As wife wants it dry on outside,, not too worried about that part of it.  Wife is having a girls night on on Friday,, maybe I should just get a couple beers and toss it on Friday after work,, then let it go.  Some nice country music in background, laptop outside with me to check chats and a few beers.  Heh,, sounds like a nice relaxing evening too me :)

post #12 of 50

My experience has led me to believe that with nominal smoke chamber temps of 225*, the bark/crust formation doesn't really get going until the internal temp has climbed over the 120-130* range, so it's not very dependent on time in the smoker, though, the weight of the meat will effect this time, larger/heavier taking longer than smaller/lighter. If higher chamber temps are used, the bark will begin forming earlier, but this has alot to do with the internal temps climbing faster, as well.


Stabbing the probe @ 6 hours won't hurt anything...main thing is to not probe really early and possibly force bacteria into the center of the meat from the outside before the surface has been pasterized by smoke chamber heat.


If the shoulder/butt has a decent fat cap on, it shouldn't dry out inside...never had a dry butt, unless it was fresh, no fat cap, and I didn't brine it. I like to smoke fat-cap up so it self bastes to protect it from drying. You've got to have alot of negatives working against you before drying out will become an issue, so don't sweat that.


Being boneless, you don't have an easy gauge for shrinkage (bone sticking out), which indicates the cooking progress, so internal temps will be your best indication, along with creep on the cooking grate. Large cuts like this will shrink around the circumference, and as they do, they'll get taller, almost as if they are bulking-up trying to shrug-off the heat. Anyway, they will get taller and smaller foot-print on the garte, so you can see where the meat was laying on the grate and has pulled itself tightly together, using less grate space...it's just another indication on cooking progress, and any time I do open the smoke chamber, I look for this.


Yea, plan on a long night, and possibly being able to slip in a couple hour nap now and then (set an alarm?) when you're comfortable with everything. The long smokes will test the ability of a charcoal smoker, btw. Ash build-up can be a problem if the smoker hasn't the necessary mods, or wasn't built for the long runs. Also, how long it will run on a single load of fuel will reveal itself.


Be sure you have a full propane tank (if that's your type of smoker) or a couple extra bags of charcoal/lump (whatever you're using). I don't start a long smoke in my charcoalers without at least 60lbs on hand. Just a couple things to remember that some folks get snagged on now and then...yep, count me as one of them...LOL!!! Nothing sux worse than tossing a half-cooked butt or brisket into the dreaded "O" to finish it up....especially when an average packer brisket won't fit in the "O"...


If she really likes the crust, you'll be looking for a no-foiled smoke, so that'll definitely be a long run...maybe just tent the shoulder with foil in a pan while resting, instead of wrapping tightly in foil...a bit less self-steaming while it rests, which will soften the bark...the longer the rest, the softer the bark will get.


I'm guessing, depending on how steady you can hold chamber temps, with that heavy of a shoulder, you'll likely hit a plateau in the mid/upper 140* range, or possibly lower 150's, then, probably another in the low/mid 160's, so just keep the smoker happy and let it ride. I have had stalls hit again in the 180's as well...that's where alot of folks have reverted to foiling...thing is, the stall is where the natural tenderization process is occuring, so I don't like to mess with mother nature's work, myself.


Easy does it, which it sounds you already know, and it'll be a great pulled pork feast!




post #13 of 50
Thread Starter 

Thanks Eric and Haaaa to the boss :)  I just unwrapped it.  Its not one piece but 2 which I could have gotten :)  I am going to put it in brine which I have mixed up.  .75 gal of water, 2 cups apple juice , 3/4 cup of anodized salt (someone used all my kosher) and some spices that I simmered yesterday.  I am going to let it soak for about 12 - 14 hours.  While that is going,, will work on a nice brown sugar rub that it will sit in after I pull from brine.  It is still going to take a while too cook,, figure largest piece is about 7#'s.  I have apple wood chips and mesquite set aside.  I could also grab some dead pieces from my grape vines.



Edited by LarryM - 8/30/11 at 12:07pm
post #14 of 50

Ah, cool! A pair of 7's beats an ace, so that'll be easier to pull off.


You may want to go real easy on the brown sugar...tends to scorch on those long smokes...usually works out fine for ribs, in moderation, where much over 6 hours total cooking time can send the sugars into carmel-heaven. Maybe up to about 7-8% ratio, but if you do use powdered apple as you mentioned earlier, that adds a bit to your overall sugar content as well.


I have used powdered apple quite a bit recently for long smokes and it holds up quite well, even when nearing the 20% ratio. I don't use processed sugars much anymore, and the powdered fruit is a great route to go for some extra depth in the flavor.


So, now you can figure your overall cooking time based on a 7lbr instead of a 14lbr...makes a huge difference in time, my friend.


Oh, can't remeber ifI already mentioned...cross-hatch score the fat cap for better rendering of the fat and for self-basting...also, it holds more dry rub...smoke fat-cap up.


Sounds like you'll be off to the smoker before you know it!



post #15 of 50
Thread Starter 

okay,, they are out of the brine.  Going to use the following for a rub, doubled the recepie for both of them.


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs salt

1 tbs chili powder

1 tbs garlic powder

1 tbs onion powder

1tps of cayenne


additions is about 1/4 cup of apple chips,, pounded to a powder and also 1/8 cup of white sugar.  I am also going to unfold ( it has been deboned), think I will sprinkle the inside with 1/4 tps sage, marjoram and oregano, maybe I will get some basil after work before I finish and wrap them.  There is something about slow cooking a spagettie sauce,, that savory smell,, I am hoping I can get those flavors in there somehow.  Something besides the hot n sweet.  I have some of those silicone rubber bands that we use when doing a turkey in rotisserie.  I am going to use them to hold it all together.  Wife wants it crusty so I wont be spritzing.  I know its not normal standard but she watches food tv so much and loves when they pull from smoker on there and it is all black n crusty.  She just breaks it up and mixes it all together.  This is going to be a sweet bark and probably burned but I am not gonna argue with her :)  Now it just sits in the fridge absorbing everything till Friday or Sat.   As weight is smaller,, shouldnt take more then 12 hours apiece.  I am also thinking of using 2 racks in the MES,, have them sitting on top of each other,, that way,, all the fat/spices will baste the other one, not sure I can put a little foil pan in there to catch the juices without messing up the air flow.  If I can,, that will make for a great addition to pork n beans :)

Edited by LarryM - 8/31/11 at 8:57am
post #16 of 50


post #17 of 50

I've been AWOL in a primitive part of the country (NorthEast), without electricity, since you asked your questions, but I see you were in excellent hands, so I will just join Al in the Spectator's Area.





post #18 of 50
Thread Starter 

My babies are all ready for a good smoke.  I want to do now,, but am told I cant :(  couple pics,, one with just savory herbs sprinkled inside,, the other with the rub n wrapped up,, just anticipating.  And I did score the fat a little too.





post #19 of 50

Yeah, buddy! Gonna be some fine eating PP!


I've been playing with a few of the italian spices/herbs now & then, myself, and it's all been a nice twist from the same old thing...gotta play the field if you wantto get to know it, I guess.


Yeah, sage, marjoram, oregano and basil...I did a high-temp indirect on my weber kettle last fall (I think) with a pork loin...half a loin with nothing but an italian blend (of my own), and no salt...the other half with some chili powder, paprika, garlic and a few others more common to the BBq/Smoking style of dry rub...both were great flavor, but the italian just has a certain simplicity and zesty flavor that seemed to intrigue me...one my better eating loins, thus far.


Carry on with that soon-to-be dynamite smoke! I'll catch you on the flip-side after work.



post #20 of 50
Thread Starter 

One is in at 225 @ 8:30 am :) I do have a question though.


I figure 10 hours guesstimate though I think I will have to be careful when putting in meat thermometer,, if I hit the space between the sections as it is deboned,, will there be much difference in temp ?  Too me, seems almost like a top n bottom half so want to make sure.  Once I get temp up to about 200 internal on top half,, I am hoping bottom half will be ready too as it is closer to the heat.  I do have it sitting in a foil tray to collect yummy drippings :)


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