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Happy 4th - First Shoulder

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Good morning!  Tomorrow I am taking a pork shoulder to my in-laws for the 4th, so I started cooking... well... yesterday popcorn.gif

 

I have two smokers: my Cajun Bandit modified Weber OTG, and a Smoke Hollow No. 6 gasser.  I work from home, and my office is next to the patio, so I decided to use the Cajun Bandit today.  I can look out my office door's window and watch the pretty smoke waft out of the lid.  I probably won't get much work done, but it will be a fun day! grilling_smilie.gif

 

Yesterday I decided to save some time and set up the Cajun Bandit (my kids nicknamed it "Gambit"... extra points to anybody who knows the joke...)  I set up my charcoal (apple wood chunks) in a "Minion ring" with a water pan in the center.  I know from past experience it's good for about 6 hours.  I plan to wrap the shoulder at about 3 hours of smoke, so when the charcoal runs out I'll transfer to the oven for finish.

 

 

 

Next, the pork shoulder.  It's 8.5 pounds, decently well trimmed from the grocery store.  I rubbed it with a light coating of safflower oil, then coated liberally with rub.  My rub is a blend of dark brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder.  Due to the various family tastes, I don't use cayenne or chipotle... the folks who like it with a bite use a spicier sauce.

 

 

 

I let the meat sit overnight in the fridge.  Next morning, time to inject with a mixture of 2/3 apple juice and 1/3 apple cider vinegar.  I know there are differing opinions on injection, but I chose to inject this time since it's my first shoulder, and since Gambit's temperature control is not great.  I wanted the extra moisture in the meat at the start of the smoke, and the vinegar will help tenderize the meat.

 

 

Charcoal is lit and Gambit is preheating.

 

 

And we're off!  More updates to follow through the day.

 

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Two hours in. 

 

 

 

I'm a little frustrated, Gambit's temp is fluctuating quite a bit.  Pleas note: this is NOT the fault of the Cajun Bandit, this is due to my inexperience in setting up the charcoal.  I'm getting temperature spikes when the charcoal meets one of the wood chunks.  Maybe next time I need to bury the wood chunks inside or underneath the charcoal?

 

Also, air control is problematic.  Unlike the WSM, the only air control I have is the lower vane.  So even though I'm choking off the air, it's not very tight and air still gets in.

 

For now, Gambit has decided she wants to run between 275 and 300 degrees.  What the hell... Myron Mixon is a proponent of hot-n-fast for shoulder!

 

And as a side note, my cat smells the BBQ outside...

 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

At 3.5 hours the internal temp hit 140.  I opened the smoker to a very nice looking bark!

 

 

 

I moved the shoulder to an aluminum pan and double-wrapped it.  It's back on the smoker for now, until the charcoal runs out (probably two hours.)  At that point I'll transfer it to the kitchen oven to finish.

 

I think I have an idea on what happened with my temps.  It looks like the Maverick's temperature sensor was bumped to the side where it would be directly over the charcoal at certain points of the cook.  I don't have a deflector directly under the rack, since I wanted the juices to drip into the water pan.  Next time I'll put a 16" deep dish pizza pan between the shoulder and the water pan.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Internal temp hit 201 and I pulled it.  It's wrapped up in three layers of beach towels (the pan is too wide for my cooler) and it's resting.  Temp has climbed a bit of course... 205 now...

 

Checking back, I'm guestimating that it cooked between 275 and 300 degrees.  Although the wireless Maverick therm probe was nudged directly over the charcoal, the wall-mount stayed rock-solid 275 for the entire cook.  I've tested both therms before and they're pretty accurate.  8.5 pounds at 275~300 gave me a smoke time of 7 hours.  This was about two or three hours shorter than what most folks here go through, but I think everybody here smokes at 225~250.  With any luck it all balanced out.

 

I'll shred it after a two-hour rest, will put up some pics of the finished product.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

And the completed product.  Decent bark and smoke ring.  Very tender but still reasonably "firm".  Nice flavor, balanced without any cayenne bite (I have sauces for that!)

 

post #6 of 10

Yum!  Looks delicious.  And you are a lucky man to have your office right next to your smoker.  Enjoy the holiday.

post #7 of 10

looks great  , im glad that it turned out well , also your rub recipe sounds good , I may have to try it

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Rip, the rub is one I use for pretty much all meats.  Here you go:

  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (dark brown for pork, light brown for poultry, table sugar for beef... and cut the amount in half for beef)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder

 

You can add cayenne or chipotle to add some heat and bite.  Or add 1/2 tbsp. of powdered mustard for heat alone.  Lots of variations!  I've tried cumin in the mix but it didn't seem to really add anything. 

 

In my family we have two camps: one side likes mild without heat, the other side likes a strong bite.  Normally I supply two or three different kinds of sauce for personal preference.

post #9 of 10

Looks really good.

post #10 of 10

looks really good!

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