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My 1st Charcoal Fired Butt Burn- q-view

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I’m doing a double half-assed smoke today (2 large butts cut in half).
I had a pair of shoulders (10.6 lb and 9.5 lb), and I haven’t done a charcoal fired smoke in my SNP for over a year now. I figured I’d part out the butts for a bit quicker smoke time and stronger smoke flavor/better rub concentration. I ended up with 2 weighing about 5-¾ to 6-1/4 lbs and 2 in the 3-½ to 4-1/2 lb range. I left the bones in the larger roasts.

So, today is going to be exciting for me, doing a charcoal fired smoke again. I’ve been itching for something new, and I think I finally figured out what it is. I posted last night about this here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...threadid=81344

I’m really pumped up. I was so excited about getting the smoke going that I kinda forgot how much charcoal to start with and I only used 1/2 a chimney. I’ve been adding about 1-2 lbs of hot coals at a time to get temps up where I want. It’s coming together now though. I also wanted to get the pork smoking’, so I didn’t get cut/rubbed/ready pics.

Here’s where I’m at so far, 1 hr 5 minutes into the smoke and temps are way too low…still pumping it up with hot coals and adjusting the intake/vent controls:

Left Chamber Temp:

Right Chamber Temp:

Left Grate Therms & Butts:

Right Grate Therms & Butts:

I need to go check on things some more and see if I'm getting closer on temps. I'll get a couple pics of the fire so you can see it's size and maybe help me figure out what else I can do.

Ambient temp is 80* right now, winds are light and variable.

Back later...


post #2 of 21
As I've found out time after time, you really don't have to worry about high temps until about 4 hours in. Makes no difference whether you're smoking at 350 peaks or not.

It's more worry than necessary. Of course, if keeping a constant 225 -250 adds to your experience, then go for it! But it's hardly mission critical.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm still waiting to hit 200*. I even went as far as to suppliment the BTU output of the charcoal with a propane torch tucked into the SFB intake with a bulk cylinder/hose attached.

Maybe I need to redo my tuning plate mod. I have much more even temps between left and right on the chamber now than I did with a gas burner. Hard to say why at this point...maybe it has to do with the rapidly expanding gases from the propane burner causing more draft through the cook chamber than the charcoal will create?

Anyway, heres the fire box and temp again:

I have a therm on the tuning plate at both ends and did notice about a 90* rise on the sfb end, and 65-70* on the vent stack end, so I'm heading the right direction with the propane torch to suppliment with. Hopefully by the time the plateaus start, the chamber temp will hold up on it's own with just charcoal.

Back to the smoke again...this one's gonna keep me busy! icon_cool.gif

post #4 of 21
I don't know how much this will help you, but I use a 22" Weber. I load up a whole chimney full of lump (and a couple of big chunks of wood) and when it's still quite hot and flaming, I put it directly into the grill, put the butt on immediately and cover it up. I don't wait until it's ashen coals.

The temperature ends up at between 325 - 350 and stays there for at least an hour if I don't open the lid. In the next hour or two, it gradually drops until it hits around 200. This is usually about 2 1/2 -3 hours in. Only at that point do I uncover it and add fresh coals. I don't really worry about keeping the temperature close to 250 until the second bed of coals dies down.

However, I've found that the smoke dies down fairly quickly, so I throw in a handful of dry alder or hickory chips right on top of the coals every 30 minutes or two. I've never had a problem with creosote, but it does drop the temperature quicker than if I don't open the lid. So I usually have to add fresh coals a little earlier than I normally would if I preload with more wood chunks.

In other words, I go high and let it drop rather than going low and adding more coals until I get the "right temperature". You might try this next time.
post #5 of 21
if your using a baffle between the fire box and the cooking chamber try it with it removed, mine runs to kool with the baffle in place
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
No baffle, it's an open throat between the two. I have a light-weight 1-piece tuning plate running the full length, with a gap of about 2" on the vent end. I drilled holes in the tuning plate as needed to even out rack/chamber temps throughout.

I have alot of time invested in that process, though it may not be the right fit for charcoal fired...I may need to go with a more open front/rear...not sure yet. The current tuning plate works great with a fryer burner, so I don't want to change it, as I can use about 95% of the cooking grate this way without burning anything.

I removed my torch from the SFB awhile ago, as chamber temps were hitting around 270*. Then, I had to put it back in because with full open to nearly closed intake vent, I can't hold the temps. I have loaded over 16# of briquettes into the SFB so far...seems like an awful lot as I only used about that much on a 12 hour brisket smoke a year ago with the SNP. The rig was stock then, with just the grill ash pan inverted and supported as a baffle under the cooking grate.

post #7 of 21
Looking good.Will check back in.........
post #8 of 21
Stick with it man! Welcome back to the "natural" side. Your tastebuds will applaude you for your efforts.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks...I'll be at it awhile yet...nature of the beast.

Yeah, Dude, I can hardly wait for the results of my efforts...this is gonna be a great feast! I'm so pumped up after doing the cold smoke/sear over charcoal for the past 6 months...man, that good stuff!

Mikey PM'd me about the expanded metal I had on my grate...possibly too small to allow for the massive amount of Kingsford blue ashes to drop through. I removed it and got 4 small shovels full of ash out, and things started to look like she'd run on her own finally.

About 30 minutes later I had a peak chamber temp alarm @ 275, fire in the box was running pretty toasty.

So, it's looking like my first bump is behind me...I'll be anxiously awaiting the next one, and wonder what it could possibly be until it happens! HEH-HEH-HEH!!!!

Here's where we are so far, at about 4+ hours in: (EDIT)
Coals are nice and toasty,...I hope I can control it now:

Left Chamber:

Right Chamber monitoring:

Big biggest half-ass:

The higher temps in the past 60-90 minutes has started some nice coloring:

That's a no-sugar rub, so getting a bark going this early is a good sign for me...it may have something to do with the charcoal fire. I'll see how things look towards the end of the smoke stage...it should be a nice bark by then.

Man I'm getting anxious about this already, and it's about 3 to 4 hours until the smaller boneless butts are going to be ready for pulling..........hope my big gut doesn't eat my little gut while I wait!!!icon_redface.gif

Back later with more, gotta stay close to this one so I don't botch it up!

Thanks guys!

post #10 of 21
your baffle is killing your heat, if i had that much charcoal going in mine it would be way to hot.

i don't use the baffle much just make smaller fires.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
It was an ash problem. I now have chamber temps that dropped back from 275* to the upper 230's/lower 240's range. She's dialed in now, with the intake 1/2 open for the past couple of hours and the vent full open. Now I'm just watching I/T's and doing a little tending of smoke and adding cold briqs just by looks of the coal bed.

Once I got the ash problem overcome (Thanks to Mikey), I got rid of the propane torch and let the coals take over from there...been a nice smoke since then.

My 2 smallest butts are in the lower 160* I/T's now, so they'll be ready in time for dinner!!! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

The larger 2 are stalled in the lower 150* range so they'll be awhile yet. I'm sure glad I decided to part the butts down to a more managable size...I don't think I've seen a 10+# butt 'til this smoke.

I'm cruizin' through to the finish now! LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!

I do see a mod in my SNP SFB's future...raised coal-bed with double grates (course on top, fine on bottom), for a more complete burn of the charcoal. This way I should see less hot ambers during ash removal, and I can let the ashes build up for alot longer before it will becpome a problem.

So far, a couple small lessons learned, but the smoke ain't over yet! HEH-HEH! Next one should be a snap to manage...I like it!

Thanks again all!

And special thanks to Mikey...he knew exactly what was going on when he saw my first pic of the SFB/coal bed...boy's been around the fire awhile...thank you Mikey!

And, of course I'll be back with the finish as they come out of the foiled pans and I build a plate for ya ta drool over...

post #12 of 21
Well I will eat it if ya invited me. LOL
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

Time to foil 'em up!

Well, this went faster than I expected it would! icon_smile.gif

All 4 pieces of, uh, you know, butt, were @ 160+* about the same time, so I got my already blended brasing liquids out of my Q-refer and a large pan and foil were handy as well.

The brasing liquids consisted of:
1-1/2 cup Sunny D OJ
1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1-1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/8 cup Lemon Juice

This has a double-role, and will be tossed into the meat after pulling the pork as a finishing sauce.

I/T's, all within +/- 2*:

Ready for a pan:

Some of the Brasing liquids (I didn't think they would all fit into one pan so I saved some for another pan, then combined the rest in with this):

All 4 fit in a 12" x 18" pan, with a little arranging:

We're getting closer.........

Back with the finish (I hope) in about 60-75 minutes!!!! icon_cool.gif

Thanks to all, from one very happy smoker!!!!!!!!!!!

post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
I stomped on ya when I started my last post...

You're a quite a ways away from me....I'll check and see if we have smoke delivery PM's activated yet....

NOPE, I get a "SAY WHAT?????????" from V-Bulletin!! LOL!!!!

Thanks Rick!
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Had to slice some so my oldest could head back to college...mmm!

Well, I took the smallest one out at 170* I/T and sliced so my my boy could get back to his dorm room tonight...he'll be packing some extra for his fridge, I'm sure.

I never did sliced shoulder before, so, it'll be an eating experience for sure...though a few tid bits were snacked on by myself and the family before plating...it is stupendously good!

Oh, I didn't mention earlier about this dry rub...it is my basic 6-ingredient rub, with no chili powder and extra cayenne pepper...so 5 ingredients on this run...pretty darn tasty...seems like the simpler it is the better.

Ain't it cute?:

I looked twice after the first slice fell over (serious smoke goin' on here)

And, a bit closer on that last shot:

The sammies are built with a loaf of crusty bread, like I use for most of my PP burns...it goes a long way for a buck.

My oldest's first plate, after I built his first sammies:

And, the remains of the big boy, ready for devouring:

I'll get the pulled pork pics up when it comes out of the brase and rests a bit. Probably looking at another 1-1/4 hours...temps are still a bit under 190* on the rest of my piggy meat.

Oh man! I just got my boys care package together (a gallon size baggie full of sammies) and I grabbed another good size pinch from a slice...definately a char-flavor to go with the Hickory smoke...the rub has a nice bit of heat and doesn't cover up the flavor of the smoke/char/meat at all...I'll be doing this again!

Thanks again!

post #16 of 21
Nice job, Eric! Yeah, ash buildup is a killer! Mikey was right about that. Everything looks great! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

Pulled Pork @ 193* I/T, a little tough...

I took the hottest of the 3 out of the pan and pulled it. I took it a bit early @ 193*~, so it wasn't fall apart, and took a bit of tuggin' to pull apart...still good stuff though. I had the hungry masses to contend with so I took the chance. I haven't tried to pull any pork below 200* before, just because everyone says not to, now I know first hand why...just a bit shy of target temp makes a big difference.

I had to yank a little bit to get the bone free, then picked a few bits of meat off of the bone...not too bad though.

This is with the flash:

And without the flash:

Tossed with about 1/3 of the brasing liquids from the foiled pan:

I'm taking the last 2 butts to over 200* I/T, so it will fall apart. I'll post that as well just so we can all see the difference. New Qer's may be interested in this process, and how it can effect the product, so I may as well share it too.


post #18 of 21
Love the smoke ring and the fact your son is stocked for some studyingpoints.gif
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dawn! Yeah, Mikey's a good one to have in your corner with the SFB/horizontal smokers...knows his stuff pretty well.

Thanks, Alex! I don't know yet why, but my pork smokes almost always have a heavy penetration of smoke...in this particular case, I would credit it to the chamber temps being fairly low (not by choice) for the first hour of the smoke. But then, why does it happen to me with a fairly glitch free smoke? I may never know...we had a discussion on the forum last fall about that very thing as I recall.

Ah, here it is...this one brings back some memories:

Gotta get finished pics up, so, see ya shortly!

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

This one's for you Mikey!!!!!! PP at last, they way it's suposed ta be...

Here's what we look like when we're patient, and don't pull the trigger too soon (for the new guys & gals). I didn't have any trouble pulling this batch. Probe temps read 201-204*, and the probe slid into the meat without any resistance. The bone came out very clean and without any effort.

I just couldn't help but to stare at this and savor the moment:

Clean bone, and meat begining to collapse....mmm-mmm-mmm:

That was pretty nice, but this is just, well........:

Tossed with an abundance of pan liquids:

Well, we got to see the difference of textures between too low and correct temps for pulling, and a nice sliced shoulder as well. So, a little of everything for the new Qer's to learn from, and a refresher for some of us seasoned folks as well, including myself.

And that, my friends, was a very, very successful butt smoke!

Thanks again to all, and, no, I'm not forgeting Mikey either! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

It's been fun, but now I'm done!!!!!!!!! 'Nite all!

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