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New member - 2 smokes down, many to go!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I found this site a few weeks ago and have been trying to soak up all the good advice... I have the large Great Outdoors Smokey Mt. gas smoker, and did some ribs on my first go round. They were okay, but not smoky enough... Definitely tender... And I just smoked two pork shoulders yesterday/last night/all night - more on that later....

I swapped the small cast iron box that comes with the smoker for a larger 9x9 baking pan and I cover it with heavy aluminum foil...

I use the Redi-chek remote thermometer system and have a digital thermometer as a back up.

Some questions, of course!

1) What's the best way to wrap the wood chips? Tightly? Tented? Lots of holes in the cover, or only a few? It seems that if I'm aiming for the TBS, then less air is better. When I loosened up the cover, the smoke poured out more, but I'm hearing that's not the right smoke?

2) Also - I'm still not sure if soaking the chips does any good. I've done it both ways, and it seems that the chips start smoking faster when they're dry? How long should it take to get the smoke going with soaked chips? Leave the gas on high until it starts, and then crank it down and load the meat?

3) THE STALL - okay I did some pork butts yesterday. I did the mustard/dry rub the night before and started the smoke at about 7 AM. I didn't open the door much all day except to check/add water or reposition the meat thermometer. I had the temps at 230 -240 F. They cooked well until about 164 F and then they parked there for HOURS. I mean hours upon hours. I can't remember what time they hit the stall, but the temps didn't budge until after midnight - maybe 1:00 AM. Here's where it got weird. The temps started climbing again, but only hit 168 F and sat there the rest of the morning. I baby sat off and on catching cat naps all night until 6:30 AM this morning when I called it quits, I pulled the shoulders out, wrapped them in heavy foil and packed them in towels and pillows in a cooler. And then went back to bed... At 9:00 AM I opened them up and they were still hot. I pulled both shoulders into pieces and they were nice and buttery.

I had second checked the temps with a digital thermometer, and had ample gas - temps were around 230 F all night... I could not get the temps anywhere near 180 F, much less 190 F. Anyone have any clue? The meat seems nice and tender, but they're my first ones. I've eaten lots of pulled pork, so I know what they're supposed to be like, but never smoked one...

Anyway, thanks for all the good advice yet to come... I look forward to many more competent, good smokes... With all of your help... icon_smile.gif
post #2 of 9
1&2- I would say wrap them tight and only poke a few holes if you can smell the smoke you are good. If you don't smell smoke after a while then poke another hole until you can smell the smoke. I am not a chip soaker guy. I use to but I came to the conclusion that all the water does is make the chips take longer to start smoking since they have to dry out first then they can smoke. So my conclusion was they will last longer when you soak them but only because it takes longer for them to start smoking. So what I do now is smoke with some chips and some chunks. The chips start smoking right away and burn out faster and that is when the chunks take over and go longer so you don't have to add chips so frequently. I'm not saying this is the correct method or that this is for sure what soaking your chips does but that is was I found from my experience so that is what I go with. There has been a big debate on the soaking vs. not soaking your chips. Try it both ways and do what you think is better that is my suggestion neither way is right or wrong.

3- As far as the stall they can really take a long time depending on how big and thick your chunk of meat is. The thicker the meat and the higher fat content the longer that possibility of a stall. And yes is can sit there for hours and I have even see the temps drop while it stalls. What is happening is all of that fat material and tissue is breaking down making your meat nice and tender. You just have to wait it out.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Okay - thanks for the advice... I came to the same conclusion about the chips being soaked. The chips and chunks idea sounds like a winner... I'll try that next time.

As for the stall, I actually did see the temp drop a degree after hours of not budging... So that's a sanity check... The two shoulders together weighed just under 14lbs. before trimming, so I figured I got 5-6lbs on each one before cooking... Those don't seem large, but maybe the fat content was the culprit, like you said. I guess it could also be tougher connective tissue in there too. I just didn't expect it to take almost 24 hours, so I assumed something was wrong...

Any way to tell when you're buying the meat if it's suitable for shorter smoke times? BTW, these were minimally processed and had no solution in them...
post #4 of 9
Welcome to the SMF, We are glad to have you onboard
post #5 of 9
First off welcome SMccarty to SMF. You'll like it here cause there are abunch of good folks here that would just love to help you out with just about anything to do with smoking. We really like to have newbies here because they can bring in a new propective to how things are done. There's nothing like a new set of eyes to give and new way to make things that little differant to make things alittle better. So I hope you know about the Qview here.
Here's a link to photobucket it's free and easy to download pictures. Then if your really new to smoking Look up the E-course.
It's also free and it will give you the basics of smoking. So after all of that you just need to go grab something to smoke and if you have any question just post them here and we will answer it quickly so you don't have any mishaps with your smoke.
Welcome To Your New Addiction
post #6 of 9
Welcome to the SMF forum, You came to the right place. Good people and good info.
post #7 of 9
Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.
post #8 of 9
Welcome to the SMF, and congrats on the GOSM. Try using chunks instead of chips, no need to soak. It's all good my friend.
post #9 of 9
Welcome to SMF, Smccarty. Good to see that you are off & running. What part of SoCal are you in?

We are glad to have you & please enjoy your stay.
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