Well - it was a long day, but I now have my first pork butt smoke under my belt. In the end, I would grade my work at a B- ish. One thing I walked away with for sure is that I'm truly a novice in every since of the word, and I have a lot to learn (which I will). In fact, I spent a lot of the time I had when not tending to the smoker reading this site.
A few cook notes & observations:
- Two pork butts, each weighing about 7.5 lbs. Smoked at fluctuating temps (not by design) of 220-230 on my new MES. I would say the average was probably 225ish degrees.
- Went into smoker at 6:00 am, came off about 4:15pm. Overall smoke time was less than I anticipated. Used a 50/50 mix of Hickory & Cherry. Smoked both with fat cap up.
- Had a big fire flare up right after dropping the chips in. This happened to me on my last rib smoke too. Fire last for maybe 30 seconds before it dies out.
- Never hit the big stall. Temp increased consistently all the way to the end on one, and the other stalled out at about 195 degrees, but I took it out at 195 degress so it didn't matter.
- Learned my MES40 runs about 35-40 degress cooler than the internal thermo reads. My Maverick thermo is a must.
- Double wrapped in foil at 165 degress, took one butt out at 195 and the other at 205 degrees. Both were wrapped with bath towels, and stored in a cooler to rest for 3 hours (for logistical purposes). I only intended them to rest 2 hours.
- Meat absolutely fell apart once I opened the foil. I'm thinking they rested a bit too long because it almost seemed just a very little bit mushy.
- Both cuts of meat had Jeff's rub recipe. One was sprayed with Apple Juice/Capt Morgans roughly 3 times. Couldn't really tell a difference, but perhaps I needed to spray a few additional times and let it carmelize a little more.
- One butt had Meowey's finishing sauce, the other didn't. I didn't particularly like the vinnegar taste of the sauce. Maybe I didn't something wrong, or maybe I need to try a different receipe. Not sure. Interestingly, that pan of meat didn't keep well and didn't taste good the next day. The other butt had a smoke flavor.
- I was surprised by the fat cap. It was still big, and I wasn't sure what to do with it when I was pulling. I just discarded it because it was thick, but you lose an entire side of bark in doing so.
What I clearly need to learn in the next 2 weeks (before I'm smoking pork for my ENTIRE family):
- I realized that I have no idea if I'm seeing TBS or TWS. Its a problem.
- I don't have a good feel for smoke amount/flow -- is it too much or not enough, etc. I constantly worried about this during the actual smoke process. Whenver it seemed as though there was just a very little bit of smoke coming out, I would throw in more wood (about 1x per hour).
- I kept the vent position open about 1/3. I'm reading some folks close it off, some keep it open 1/3 - 1/2, some open all the way.
- I had a lot of humidity inside the smoker, with drops running down the clear panel of the door. My water pan had water in it, but it was dry by the end of the day. My guess is that this is why I never got a good crisp bark (noticed this on my rib cooks as well). Not sure if this is a problem.
- I'm considering the AMNSP pellet tray or tube, but not sure where I would put it. I smoke with a foil pan on the bottom rack of the smoker to catch drippings as it makes cleanup much easier. And because the MES drip tray is tiny, and it overflows on the reg.
Thats about it. Thanks!