Originally Posted by MDM6
I've done quite a bit of reading around and I am feeling kind of ready to try pulled pork.I still have a question: should all of the charcoal be grey/white before adding food to smoke?
Also, any general advice would be greatly appreciated.
Hey Matt, not sure what type of smoker you have but let me try and answer the question in bold above.
For charcoal in the chimney starter, make sure it is all hot and ashed over before you add it to the cold charcoal and wood in the smoker. You want that hot charcoal to have maximum energy when you add it to the cold charcoal and wood chunks/splits loaded in the smoker. The cold fuel itself DOES NOT have to be grey/white before you add food to the smoker.
What is most important is the smoke itself coming out of the smoker. You want to see hints of blue in the smoke before you add food to the smoker. If you add food while the smoke is grey or white it can build up a layer of ash on the meat that will taste yucky and make your food black. That white/grey smoke is due to the wood chunks/splits carbonizing and burning incompletely while coming up to temp. Once the hints of blue appear you have a fire that is burning more efficiently and cleanly, giving the smoke we all want to taste.
When I first started smoking I waited until the smoke turned blue and the smoker was at my desired chamber temp before I loaded the meat. It would take about an hour to 90 minutes for that to happen. Now, I can reach temps fairly quickly and then watch for the hints of blue as a sign when to load the meat. I can be smoking in 30-45 minutes most days after I dump the chimney on the cold charcoal and wood.
Have fun and keep us posted on the pulled pork!