I'm Adrian, from the Seattle area. I have had mind blowingly delicious smoked foods at my uncles over the years (brisket, pulled pork, ribs, trout), but have never smoked anything myself. Last week I made some ribs to have a few friends over for the Seahawks game. This entailed baking them for a few hours in foil in the oven, followed by a finishing on the grill with some bbq sauce. I've done this in the past and produced something relatively tasty, but I didn't use a rub this time and made a rather disappointing product. The shame of the mediocre ribs has finally moved me to action, and I now have a new MES 30 (1st gen), an AMNPS, and 40 pounds of pellets. I went with this configuration because I'm much more interested in the final product than in the process to get there. This appears to be about the closest thing to set it and forget it.
Upon receiving the hardware on Thursday, I ran them overnight for a thorough seasoning. This trial run of the AMNPS was successful, and I used enough pellets to have it round the first corner completely. I used a lighter to get it barely lit, switched to a heat gun until it was a delicious smelling inferno, and then popped it in the lower left of the corner of the smoker with a foil tent on top. I also ran to costco and picked up a 16lb pack of boneless pork shoulder.
Friday morning at 6am I put together a rub and got both shoulders coated with mustard and rub.
Friday evening at 9pm I started heating the MES to 275, and pulled the pork out to the counter. At 9:45 I fired up the AMNPS, and at 10pm I inserted it and the pork into the smoker. I left the top vent fully open, but had not pulled the feeder tube out at all (it had not proved necessary in the trial run). I got up at 5:45am and stuck a probe in the shoulder on the higher rack and measured 158. Unfortunately I found that the AMNPS had gone out very soon after I had started. It had burned less than an inch.
I had been planning to foil one shoulder and leave the other without so I can figure out which approach I like better, but facing this under-smoked situation I decided they both need several hours of smoke yet. So I relit the AMNPS, pulled out the filler tube a few inches, and left the pork at 225. After observing it for 2.5 hours I am happy to report that there is still a steady stream of TBS emanating, so the improved air flow appears to be just what I needed. I was planning on raising the temp in the morning to work through the likely stall, but I think my best bet now is to keep it low to make sure I can get 5-6 hours of smoke time in before it's done. I was planning on serving it for lunch, but now it might be more like dinner :)
What an adventure. I'm glad I'm starting with pork shoulder as it looks like I might need its forgiving attitude :)
After seeing the odd shape of a boneless shoulder I'm much more interested in going with a bone-in next time. I expect I'll have uneven doneness with these boneless ones.
I have spent WAY too much time reading through old posts on SMF this week, and I'm awfully thankful to have such an excellent resource to help me ramp up on bbq knowledge!