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First pork shoulder, how'd I do?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Ok ladies and gents, help me out and give me some feedback and/or tips and suggestions.  I decided a few weeks ago to smoke a pork shoulder.  After researching for a while, I found the basics in several forums on how it should go but I decided to kinda wing it and see how it would turn out.  Here is what I started out with, pretrimmed it weighed 8.5lbs. 

 

 

I decided to cut the skin and about 90% of the fat off before I put the rub on.  I coated it in yellow mustard and then put a store bought rub on it that I had sitting in the pantry.  While it sat I preheated my MES to its highest temp (275).  According to my Redi Check thermometer, it averaged around 265* the whole time. 

I didn't have any apple juice handy so I took a pan and watered down apple sauce until it was like apple juice.  It worked pretty well to keep the meat moist but not as moist as i would have hoped.  For whatever reason, I used cherry wood instead of apple.  It smoked for approximately 8 hrs and then I pulled it out at 194*, double wrapped it in foil, wrapped it in a towel and placed it in a cooler for 1 1/2 hrs to rest.  I did make the mistake of not soaking the wood chips first and that is why I think it got a little too dark. 

 

While it rested I decided since the smoker was still on to make some seasoned cherry tomatoes and mini golden potatoes. Once they were done I unwrapped the shoulder and grabbed my Bear Claws and started to pull and shred.  

 

Here are the finished products!  I let the family add their own sauce on their plates since we tend to like a variety of different sauces.  It turned out very good in my opinion.  It was moist, but could have been moister.  So my wish from all of you is to help me make this better if possible.  Should I mop the shoulder while it smokes?  Should I have injected it?  Any tips or tricks would be welcomed.  Thank you so much!

post #2 of 17

Looks delish! :drool

However, I don't think soaking your wood chips would have affected the color of your bark FWIW.

:Looks-Great:

post #3 of 17

Looks like it was pretty good but as you are looking for advice here's some. Never soak wood. Wet wood does not burn until it dries out. I don't trim much fat off of my butts because it bastes the meat as it renders which is where you get your moistness. If you cook low and slow say under 250 the whole time all of that fat drips out of the meat anyway. There is no need for that pan of apple sauce in there. It does nothing except create steam. Steam collects on the meat and smoke sticks to it. Now this is a good thing up to a point but eventually you will have creosote sticking to the meat especially if your smoke is not perfect. I E chips. You are better off with a empty pan under your Butt. The drippings that are collected over the entire smoke can be defatted at the end by cooling the pan down in the freezer or fridge for a little while and then skimming the fat off of the top. Then you can add the drippings back into the pork once it is pulled. This way you get the moist yummy flavor without the fat. Super lean pork butt is an oxymoron for us in the smoking world. Fat is flavor, and fat is moisture. The apple juice goes in with the foiled Butt either during the foiling stage or if you are smoking without foiling which is perfectly fine you put that in with the Butt after it is done smoking and you are wrapping and resting. No need for juice, wine, beer, etc... in the smoker. It does not add flavor or moisture to the meat. All and all I would say you got really close to what you were going for but just fell short a little bit. I would also suggest that you test the factory probes in your smoker for accuracy. You can test them in boiling water. 212 degrees or so depending on altitude and barometric pressure. Those units are known for the temp. being off by a little to a whole lot so it is good to know what the real temp of the meat and the chamber is. Hope this helps. Happy smoking. timber

post #4 of 17

I can't tell if you have water in the water pan but if you do, don't. Not needed. Most folks either use Sand or Gravel and wrap in foil for easy cleanup. I would be willing to bet that bark was bitter tasting and you pretty much removed it from the final product as I don't see any in your PP. When done right the bark is the best part. To achieve this is the trick to great pulled pork. Every time. This is how I prepare a Butt like that for smoking.

 

 

 

 

Man I loved that Butt.

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Looks like it was pretty good but as you are looking for advice here's some. Never soak wood. Wet wood does not burn until it dries out. I don't trim much fat off of my butts because it bastes the meat as it renders which is where you get your moistness. If you cook low and slow say under 250 the whole time all of that fat drips out of the meat anyway. There is no need for that pan of apple sauce in there. It does nothing except create steam. Steam collects on the meat and smoke sticks to it. Now this is a good thing up to a point but eventually you will have creosote sticking to the meat especially if your smoke is not perfect. I E chips. You are better off with a empty pan under your Butt. The drippings that are collected over the entire smoke can be defatted at the end by cooling the pan down in the freezer or fridge for a little while and then skimming the fat off of the top. Then you can add the drippings back into the pork once it is pulled. This way you get the moist yummy flavor without the fat. Super lean pork butt is an oxymoron for us in the smoking world. Fat is flavor, and fat is moisture. The apple juice goes in with the foiled Butt either during the foiling stage or if you are smoking without foiling which is perfectly fine you put that in with the Butt after it is done smoking and you are wrapping and resting. No need for juice, wine, beer, etc... in the smoker. It does not add flavor or moisture to the meat. All and all I would say you got really close to what you were going for but just fell short a little bit. I would also suggest that you test the factory probes in your smoker for accuracy. You can test them in boiling water. 212 degrees or so depending on altitude and barometric pressure. Those units are known for the temp. being off by a little to a whole lot so it is good to know what the real temp of the meat and the chamber is. Hope this helps. Happy smoking. timber


Good advice, TJ. I'll be taking some of that Thumbs Up.

I currently have a pork shoulder going and I since I haven't gotten any sand yet, I filled the water pan. :nono:

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the advice timberjet!  It did turn out really good I thought for a first real attempt.  As far as the probes go, I know the one on the smoker is off, that is why I use my Redi Check probe.  It has two probes.  One I use in the meat, one in the chamber. 

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shafferkoetter View Post
 

Thank you for the advice timberjet!  It did turn out really good I thought for a first real attempt.  As far as the probes go, I know the one on the smoker is off, that is why I use my Redi Check probe.  It has two probes.  One I use in the meat, one in the chamber. 

I will share the secret weapon with you if you would like. 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/122319/jjs-finishing-sauce-awesome

I never ever will not have this in my fridge ever again. Awesome!

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have never found the water pan to be useful for anything but to catch drippings that miss the catch pans.  I don't really understand the sand or gravel idea, could you explain that one a little more please? The bark is actually in there, it is just shredded really fine to allow some in every bite.  I didn't taste any bitterness in it, maybe because the rub had more of a kick to it than I had expected.  Your butt definetly looks better than mine did!  What type of smoker do you use?  I have read that the electric ones like mine are inferior to a wood burner or pellet smoker, but I bought it for ease of use since I was new to the BBQ/smoking world. Also, what kind of temp and time did you go by?

post #9 of 17
I'd say ya done great ! icon14.gif Ya have some great advise there..... I've been smokin for 20+ yrs & learn somethin new each time.... It's a great hobby "addiction" that'll keep ya on your toes..., biggrin.gif
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shafferkoetter View Post
 

I have never found the water pan to be useful for anything but to catch drippings that miss the catch pans.  I don't really understand the sand or gravel idea, could you explain that one a little more please? The bark is actually in there, it is just shredded really fine to allow some in every bite.  I didn't taste any bitterness in it, maybe because the rub had more of a kick to it than I had expected.  Your butt definetly looks better than mine did!  What type of smoker do you use?  I have read that the electric ones like mine are inferior to a wood burner or pellet smoker, but I bought it for ease of use since I was new to the BBQ/smoking world. Also, what kind of temp and time did you go by?

Your smoker is great. There is nothing wrong with it and you can make awesome stuff in it so don't worry about that. The water pan is simply there as a heat sink. Once the water heats up to boiling point it will go no hotter. 212 degrees at sea level. The first thing this does is act as a buffer between any big temperature fluctuations that might happen in there to keep the chamber temperature relatively stable, like say if there was a little wood chip flare up of grease fire that would make the temperature spike. Also regarding that electric elements are either on or off. full blast so the heat sink soaks up those spikes as well to some degree. The second action is using the stored heat to help the box recover it's heat loss quicker when you have to open the door to check on things or whatever. This can just as easily be accomplished with any heat absorbing material. Sand and gravel work well because there are air pockets in between the particles that store heat and a little moisture. Water, especially in winter time smoking takes a lot of energy to heat and keep heated. Plus as the evaporation progresses you are adding a lot of steam to a semi sealed well insulated smoke chamber. It can pool on the surfaces in the smoker and attract creosote. On a cool day you may get a black tar dripping down on your meat. I use water in only one circumstance myself and that is when it is very hot out and I actually need to keep the temperature of the smoker down. Poultry smoking is another time you should not use water as it moistens the skin and makes it rubbery. The key to good crispy chicken and turkey skin is dry smoke and dry skin. I have a UDS.

*

It uses charcoal and wood and makes some great Q. I also use this and it is my favorite of all my smoking devices.

It's just a Weber Kettle grill but like on steroids. I also use this for fish and jerky and the beginning stages of sausage smoking and well, of course deviled eggs.

 

 

*

I also have a WSM that I loaned to my dad a couple of years ago. I sometimes get to actually see it. lol. This hobby is very addicting as you can see. I am not done getting more smokers yet either. I am planning on 2 more this spring and I want one like yours to use just for sausage too.

post #11 of 17
This link may be of interest to you, timberjet said 212* at sea level for boiling water & that's true ! BUT my boiling point is 203* where I live at just shy of 5,000 ft. I could not figure out why my therms were not reading 212* if I was doing the boiling water/ therm probe test.... Then Case sent me this thread & it all fell into place.... Check it out, it may help.... But it all depends on your elevation !

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/132670/calibrating-the-digital-thermometer-is-212-f-an-accurate-measure-of-boiling-water
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterinHoleBrew View Post

This link may be of interest to you, timberjet said 212* at sea level for boiling water & that's true ! BUT my boiling point is 203* where I live at just shy of 5,000 ft. I could not figure out why my therms were not reading 212* if I was doing the boiling water/ therm probe test.... Then Case sent me this thread & it all fell into place.... Check it out, it may help.... But it all depends on your elevation !

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/132670/calibrating-the-digital-thermometer-is-212-f-an-accurate-measure-of-boiling-water


Thanks, I will give it a looksee

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterinHoleBrew View Post

This link may be of interest to you, timberjet said 212* at sea level for boiling water & that's true ! BUT my boiling point is 203* where I live at just shy of 5,000 ft. I could not figure out why my therms were not reading 212* if I was doing the boiling water/ therm probe test.... Then Case sent me this thread & it all fell into place.... Check it out, it may help.... But it all depends on your elevation !

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/132670/calibrating-the-digital-thermometer-is-212-f-an-accurate-measure-of-boiling-water

Hey thanks for sharing that again. I need to save this to share with folks. Sometimes I lose track of stuff like that that I want to show people I am trying to help and it takes forever for me to find again.

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterinHoleBrew View Post

This link may be of interest to you, timberjet said 212* at sea level for boiling water
Hey thanks for sharing that again. I need to save this to share with folks. Sometimes I lose track of stuff like that that I want to show people I am trying to help and it takes forever for me to find again.

No prob tj ! icon14.gif
post #15 of 17
I love learning from you guys. Shafferkoetter, great job on you first butt. Timberjet, I'm taking notes!
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Your smoker is great. There is nothing wrong with it and you can make awesome stuff in it so don't worry about that. The water pan is simply there as a heat sink. Once the water heats up to boiling point it will go no hotter. 212 degrees at sea level. The first thing this does is act as a buffer between any big temperature fluctuations that might happen in there to keep the chamber temperature relatively stable, like say if there was a little wood chip flare up of grease fire that would make the temperature spike. Also regarding that electric elements are either on or off. full blast so the heat sink soaks up those spikes as well to some degree. The second action is using the stored heat to help the box recover it's heat loss quicker when you have to open the door to check on things or whatever. This can just as easily be accomplished with any heat absorbing material. Sand and gravel work well because there are air pockets in between the particles that store heat and a little moisture. Water, especially in winter time smoking takes a lot of energy to heat and keep heated. Plus as the evaporation progresses you are adding a lot of steam to a semi sealed well insulated smoke chamber. It can pool on the surfaces in the smoker and attract creosote. On a cool day you may get a black tar dripping down on your meat. I use water in only one circumstance myself and that is when it is very hot out and I actually need to keep the temperature of the smoker down. Poultry smoking is another time you should not use water as it moistens the skin and makes it rubbery. The key to good crispy chicken and turkey skin is dry smoke and dry skin. I have a UDS.

*

It uses charcoal and wood and makes some great Q. I also use this and it is my favorite of all my smoking devices.

It's just a Weber Kettle grill but like on steroids. I also use this for fish and jerky and the beginning stages of sausage smoking and well, of course deviled eggs.

 

 

*

I also have a WSM that I loaned to my dad a couple of years ago. I sometimes get to actually see it. lol. This hobby is very addicting as you can see. I am not done getting more smokers yet either. I am planning on 2 more this spring and I want one like yours to use just for sausage too.

 

Wow. Love your Little Chief setup, TJ. Good stuff. :77:

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shafferkoetter View Post
 

I have never found the water pan to be useful for anything but to catch drippings that miss the catch pans.  I don't really understand the sand or gravel idea, could you explain that one a little more please? The bark is actually in there, it is just shredded really fine to allow some in every bite.  I didn't taste any bitterness in it, maybe because the rub had more of a kick to it than I had expected.  Your butt definetly looks better than mine did!  What type of smoker do you use?  I have read that the electric ones like mine are inferior to a wood burner or pellet smoker, but I bought it for ease of use since I was new to the BBQ/smoking world. Also, what kind of temp and time did you go by?

I really think that was the best piece of pork I have ever seen commercially for sale in my neck of the woods. It was a pretty hunk of meat. I don't usually post Butt smokes anymore but that one was special.

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