This is kinda long - sorry!
Well - It's Monday!
The party is over and the smoking portion of my weekend was let's say......challenging!
(note - all the vents were at 100% for the duration of this smoke)
Loaded my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker with hardwood lump charcoal around noon on Saturday - 41 degrees outside. Left a small pocket in the middle of the lump charcoal and lit a chimney of about 20-25 Kingsford Competition briquettes.(all I had left of these from a previous smoke) Let them get good and glowing hot with a nice grey ash and then dumped them into the middle of the hardwood lump charcoal. Put everything together, filled the water pan with hot water, and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes and it seemed to stabilize at 250. So far so good.
Loaded in 3 pork butts and 1 picnic shoulder. Added 4 fist size chunks of apple wood. - temp drops to 225 - 30 min later - dropped to 200 then 180. I added some more hardwood lump charcoal to see if I could get it hotter. - let it go for about an hour - back up to 200.
The wind starts blowing - probably 10-15mph. - well this sucks....
So. I pull out some plywood, find some door hinges out in the garage, and proceed to make a windbreak. I had three pieces of 35"x35" pieced of 3/4 plywood left over from a previous project - perfect!. Hinged it together and made a 3 sided break with it open in the front.
Loaded another chimney full of briquettes (This time trying som Backyard Grill Brand briquettes from Walmart - they're bigger so I'm hoping they'll last longer) - got em good and hot and added them in. Back up to 250. Shielding the wind....Life is good.
Then is starts to rain.....are you kidding me!!!! - Scramble to get everything covered or out of the rain....
I propped another piece of plywood so it rested on the handle of the smoker lid and rested on the front of my hi-tech windbreak. So now the only thing exposed is half 1/2 of the smoker lid.
half our later - rain stops - okay...onward with the smoke.
Stayed at 250 for about the next 8 hours the dropped to 225 at the 10 hour mark, meat temps were all in the low 160's. Outside temperature was around 36 degrees. - Lit another batch of briquettes and got it back to 250.
At 1 am - just approaching the 13 hour mark - Smoker temp was hovering around 200. It's damned cold outside! Lit another chimney full of briquettes, added some more hardwood lump, stoked it a bit and BAM - 275! (well alright then-this is good!)
Meat temps were still in the 160 range, (the 7 pounder hit 171)
It's now 1:30 am - I'm beat and go to bed. I figure the 275 should hold for a little while and I figured I'd be happy with 200-225 in the morning.
Got up at 6 am. It's 32 degrees out and the smoker is at 185. Crap.
3 of them are in the mid 180's, the small one is now at 195. - Party is at noon.
I am no longer having fun....I still gotta make baked beans and mac n cheese - no time to mess with the smoker at this point.
So - rather than try to get the smoker back up to temp, I pulled everything, wrapped them in foil, and put them in the oven at 250.
At 9:30 - I needed the oven to start the baked beans - they're coming out now! (21 hours later!)
I didn't check the temps, but as I was lifting them I could feel them start to fall apart in the foil. - Wrapped each one in another layer of foil and a bath towel.
Don't have a cooler right now - (don't ask!)
So, I made a make shift cooler out of a big rubbermaid container.
Loaded em all in - everything wrapped and snug, ready to go!
12:30 - party time.
My oldest son (who has worked several seasons with a competition BBQ team), pulls the first one out - unwraps it and it's still to hot to handle. (so the make shift cooler worked!)
Bone pulls right out - and it shreds up nice. The boy says it's good (not competition bbq good mind you, but good). Son #2 comes in - he did 1 season with the same competition BBQ team - says its good (not competition bbq good mind you, but good). Okay - I'm happy with that.
He pulled 3 of the 4 - panned them up and got them out on the warmers.
25 People show up - we only use 1 pan! (Yay - left overs) - why the hell I thought I needed 4 I'm not sure now!
Got a lot of compliments on the pork from the party guests - happy about that!
Gave each of the boys a pan to take home (now it's not competition bbq good, but when you're a single mid 20 something sharing a house with a bunch of guys with no money, all of a sudden it tastes real good!)
Kept the 4th one for myself. Pulled it last night, made some more sandwiches, and froze the rest.
In bed by 9:30pm. (that never happens!)
With the up and down temps, the bark was pretty weak. (I love a good bark!)
Very little liquid in the pan when we pulled it - everything was for the most part pretty moist (although my wife thought it was dry - she's really not a fan of smoked meat to begin with)
On the picnic shoulder - I cut the skin off this time - in the past I left it on and scored it and then took it off at the end. Not sure what kind of affect this has on the cooking process.
Wasn't exactly blown away by the rub I made this time. I've been trying different recipes. (I should really find one and stick to it!!)
Also, I didn't inject - and I didn't baste. - I kind of missed having a little sweetness.
Another non-meat related observation -
I thought just to give folks some variety - I put out several different sauces.
Jack Daniels - Original
Bullseye - Original
Sweet Baby Rays - Original
Sweet Baby Rays - honey
Darned near everyone there (except 1 or 2) used Sweet Baby Rays original! - interesting....
What sauces do you folks like???
Me personally, I like sweeter Kansas City style sauce. I'm not much on Vinegar based sauces.
I'd like to come up with my own one of these days -
Just need a good sauce recipe to use as a starting point and tweak from there.
All in all, the party was a success, no one left hungry - and we have a ton of leftovers!
Thanks for everyone's advice!
It's great to be a part of this community!
Until next time....