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First time smoking pork shoulder, have some questions

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Im expecting a masterbuilt propane smoker by this weekend to be delivered and i plan on putting it together and seasoning it asap. I have an 8lb pork shoulder in my freezer i got on sale last week and plan on using that for my first smoke.

I know the concept of pulled pork and cooking it to the 195-205 degree range. I plan to coat it in yellow mustard and then coating it generously with a rub. I plan on using a probe thermometer and if i understand correctly i shouldnt probe it until like 2 hours into the cook. I also plan on resting it in tinfoil and a towel in a cooler for an hour after it reaches the desired temp.

I have a few questions regarding the cooking though.

What is the best temperature to smoke a bone in pork shoulder at? And at that temp how many hours would an 8lber take approximately?

When it stalls at about 165 is it worth sacrificing the bark to wrap it in foil to speed the process? Whats the general time difference? Does it really speed it that much faster?

Is it worth it to keep opening the door to mop it with a spray bottle mist every so often? I mean it will slow down the cook time but does keeping it moist make a drastic difference? Does it prevent you from getting a good bark? If you dont mop will it dry out the meat?

How many hours should i smoke it for, i have read it doesnt take smoke after a certain point?

Now my last question is for future reference, but if i wanted to do 2 shoulders for a large crowd and ive got lets say a 7.5lber and a 7.1 lber what would my cooking time realistically look like for both to be done?

Thanks in advance for any help with these questions...
post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beers-n-BBQ View Post

Im expecting a masterbuilt propane smoker by this weekend to be delivered and i plan on putting it together and seasoning it asap. I have an 8lb pork shoulder in my freezer i got on sale last week and plan on using that for my first smoke.

I know the concept of pulled pork and cooking it to the 195-205 degree range. I plan to coat it in yellow mustard and then coating it generously with a rub. I plan on using a probe thermometer and if i understand correctly i shouldnt probe it until like 2 hours into the cook. I also plan on resting it in tinfoil and a towel in a cooler for an hour after it reaches the desired temp.

I have a few questions regarding the cooking though.

What is the best temperature to smoke a bone in pork shoulder at? And at that temp how many hours would an 8lber take approximately?
I would try to stay in the 225 - 240 range.  And you will find you need to go by temp versus time, you can have two different 8 lbs. take different amounts of time.  thickness plays more a part then pure weight.  BUT I would estimate about 10-12 hours, but maybe more...
When it stalls at about 165 is it worth sacrificing the bark to wrap it in foil to speed the process? Whats the general time difference? Does it really speed it that much faster?
If you don't need to rush it, why foil it?  if you do need to (short on time, need to finish it for a dinner time) I personally don't think it alters the flavor that much.  I have done them both ways.  Hard to say how much it speeds it up.  personally if I got that stuck on time I would instead not foil but move to oven for last 1-2 hours.  I will say some may swear against foling

Is it worth it to keep opening the door to mop it with a spray bottle mist every so often? I mean it will slow down the cook time but does keeping it moist make a drastic difference? Does it prevent you from getting a good bark? If you dont mop will it dry out the meat?
Not sure, I 'll let someone else answer that one

How many hours should i smoke it for, i have read it doesnt take smoke after a certain point?
I aim for 2-3 hours of smoke using a weber smokey mountian, but others may have more experience or better advice

Now my last question is for future reference, but if i wanted to do 2 shoulders for a large crowd and ive got lets say a 7.5lber and a 7.1 lber what would my cooking time realistically look like for both to be done?
again, you need to go by temp more than weight.  having said that I doubt it will be that different of time between the two.  and still in the 10-14 hour range

Thanks in advance for any help with these questions...
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beers-n-BBQ View Post

Im expecting a masterbuilt propane smoker by this weekend to be delivered and i plan on putting it together and seasoning it asap. I have an 8lb pork shoulder in my freezer i got on sale last week and plan on using that for my first smoke.

I know the concept of pulled pork and cooking it to the 195-205 degree range. I plan to coat it in yellow mustard and then coating it generously with a rub. I plan on using a probe thermometer and if i understand correctly i shouldnt probe it until like 2 hours into the cook. There is a risk that bacteria from the surface can be pushed in with the probe. You only need to wait until the very surface gets above 140°F to kill any bacteria. Wait 2 hours? The meat is sitting in a 225+ smoker, the surface heats in less than an hour. It is a good idea to wait or sear the probe spot with hot metal, but 2 hours is not necessary. I also plan on resting it in tinfoil and a towel in a cooler for an hour after it reaches the desired temp. See Below...

I have a few questions regarding the cooking though.

What is the best temperature to smoke a bone in pork shoulder at? That depends on how long you want to spend with your smoker. And at that temp how many hours would an 8lber take approximately?At 225-250 about 2 hours per pound. 250-275 about 1.5 hours per pound. 275-300+ about 1 hour per pound. You may find your Gasser is much happier maintaining a temp above 250°F and with a Pork Butt the quality and moistness of the meat does not suffer smoking at higher temps. There is no insulation in that smoker and it's pretty COLD this time of year in Jersey! You will have an easier time maintaining a higher temp.

When it stalls at about 165 is it worth sacrificing the bark to wrap it in foil to speed the process? If you pull it until it is finely shredded for sandwiches, the bark gets all mixed in, so soft bark doesn't matter. If you like bigger chunks, eating off a plate, crisp bark is nice. If you plan to foil and rest in a Cooler, you will soften the bark anyway so save the cook time and foil or smoke the entire cook and eat it when it's done, a 30 minute rest with just a Foil Tent on the counter is all that is needed for a probe tender butt. Whats the general time difference? Does it really speed it that much faster? That is hard to tell. A stall can last 2 hours or go 6+ hours. Foiling usually keeps the stall on the lowest end.

Is it worth it to keep opening the door to mop it with a spray bottle mist every so often?Not with a Pork Butt or Shoulder. There is usually plenty of fat and connective tissue, that will melt into gelatin, and give the meat moistness.  I mean it will slow down the cook time but does keeping it moist make a drastic difference? With leaner cuts that will be smoked a long time, mopping helps keep things moist. Does it prevent you from getting a good bark? Prevents a Crisp Bark but you still get a flavorful surface. If you dont mop will it dry out the meat?Not with fatty cuts of Pork.

How many hours should i smoke it for, That depends. You like mild smoke, 4 hours will do it. If you like a more intense flavor, smoke until you foil or the entire smoke. It's a Smoker!...If you don't like smoke flavor, you could have Roasted it and added a little Liquid Smoke after pulling. I have read it doesnt take smoke after a certain point? You get no more Smoke Ring after about 4 hours but it will develop more flavor as long as you add smoke... http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/139995/it-wont-take-no-more-smoke-after-4-hours-horse-hockey

Now my last question is for future reference, but if i wanted to do 2 shoulders for a large crowd and ive got lets say a 7.5lber and a 7.1 lber what would my cooking time realistically look like for both to be done? You place the therm in the smallest Butt and when it reaches the desired IT and tenderness, pull it, foil it and cooler it. Move the therm to the next one and wait until it gets done. The total estimated time will be based on the largest Butt. However, all are different and I have just given Guidelines. Some guys have had 3lb butts go 15 hours and 10lb butts race to done in 12 hours. My times per pound vary from some but they are what most folks here have found to be the usual timing. Estimate your cook time then ADD two hours to CYA in case it goes long. You can always rest in a cooler for 5 hours for a single butt, longer for multiples in the cooler.

Thanks in advance for any help with these questions...

 

With that smoker or any smoker there is a learning curve. You need to learn where to set the Knob on the smoker for the desired temp and, for low smoker temps, may have to adjust the valve on the tank too. You will have to find out what makes the best smoke for you. Chips burn fast, require frequent replacement and may burst into flames unless you use a Foil Pouch with just a couple of holes in it to limit Oxygen getting to those chips. Chunks burn longer but again may flame up running at high temps. If you haven't already, read the posts on Masterbuilt Propane Smokers and see the Modifications, failures and successes others have had with that unit...  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/newsearch?search=masterbuilt+propane+smokers

 

The goal for smokes longer than an hour or so, is TBS (Thin Blue Smoke). Lots of white smoke can deposit Creosote on the meat and give it a Sour/Bitter flavor that numbs your tongue.  There are Smoke Generators that make great TBS and will run unattended for several hours. This is a favorite around here and works great with gassers... http://www.amazenproducts.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=AMNTS

 

You are concerned with dry meat, while it is unlikely with Pork Butts, can happen even with Mopping and especially if the meat is really lean. You can make up for the difference with a Finishing Sauce or at a minimum adding some Apple Juice and any Meat Dripping. Use a foil pan on a shelf under the meat and while foiling, if you choose to do so. Instead of wrapping in foil, I move the butt into the drip pan add some of my Foiling Juice or Apple Juice, cover the pan with foil and go back in the Smoker or in a 300°F Oven to finish the cook. You already understand smoking to an Internal Temp (IT) of 205°F but the best indicator is the Therm Probe Test. When the IT gets to 195°, use the probe to verify the same IT in a few different places. If the Therm Probe slides in with little pressure and no resistance, the meat is done. If there is resistance, wait until the IT hits 205° and test again. You can also grab the bone with a gloved hand or tongs, if it pulls out easily, the Pork is done. 

 

You have a lot to learn but that is the fun part of any new smoker or any new hobby. After the seasoning, spend some time playing with that smoker setting and maintaining temp before this weekend. See how the smoke wood you have burns and what you need to do to get that TBS...See Below... If you have any further questions you can post them here or PM me directly....Good Luck...JJ

 

TBS Pic.jpg 


Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 3/3/15 at 4:25am
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thank you krubby and jimmy j, that was all very in depth and informative. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my specific questions. i will revisit this thread and let u guys know how it goes.
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