After wanting to pick up a smoker for a few years, last week I bought and ECB and did the recommended mods to it. Now it's time for my initial smoke.
Now, I didn't prepare for this as well as I should have. Rather than drive to a local butcher's or something to select a perfect cut, I went to my chest freezer where I knew I have a few larger hunks of meat stored up The best candidate for a first smoke I came up with was a 9lb 'Smoked Picnic Shoulder'.
After reading the package, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It's not a raw picnic shoulder, but it doesn't seem like a 'normal' ham either. IE, it was definitely smoked but not to nearly the extent of a 'normal' ham, and the instructions indicated to cook it to an IT of 170 degrees or above. It's very similar to this here: http://www.olymel.com/en/products/hams/smoked-shoulder-pork-picnic/ - in fact, this is likely the same product with a different label. I wonder if it's just been minimally smoked to add some 'smoke' flavour without actually cooking it to
Well, it may not be ideal, but I figured if I approach it 'low and slow', it would all work out in the end. I let it that for some hours in a cold water bath.
To prepare the meat, I did the following steps:
1. I trimmed the skin off of the fat cap.
2. Rinsed the meat.
3. Slathered it in mustard.
4. I did a dry rub of chili powder, paprika, brown & white sugar, some garlic, cumin, and a few other spices, and rubbed it on yesterday morning.
5. Wrapped it in plastic for 18 hours / over night, and stuck it in the refrigerator.
This morning, I woke up at 6:30AM to get the process started. Charcoal was started at 6:50AM.
I put about 3lb of Royal Oak bricquettes around the outside of my firepan, which is a cheap Smokey Joe knockoff by 'Master Chef Elite'. The center of the pan is empty under the foil package. Inside the foil package is some soaked applewood bits. The two chunks are maple. I'm hoping this arrangement of coals will buy me ~2-3 hours before I need to re-do the fire.
In my test runs with the smoker, I found out that ash buildup was going to be an issue - I swear these bricquettes produce about 30%+ ash by volume compared to the originals. Ths firepan has an ash cleanout at the bottom, but the ashes don't really want to aslways slide down to the bottom and I had some choke out.
At 7:20AM, the temps were reading at 250 with my Weber digital stick thermometer, so I put the meat on:
And now we play the waiting game: