Totally new to this smoking thing, but I'm disturbingly enthusiastic about it. I bought a Brinkmann Smoke'N Pit (http://www.brinkmann.net/products/details.aspx?item=805-2101-0) and I've grilled some burgers and things on it, but this weekend was the first time I've had the time to make an attempt at actually smoking something. Things went bad from the start, really. I tried to get a bone-in pork shoulder from the local supermarket, and all they had was a boneless butt. I would've preferred bone-in, but figured I'd give it a shot. I got a 6.5 pount butt, and went home and gave it a light mustard coating, and hit it with a BBQ rub. Then I put it in a ziplock with a bit of cider and cider vinegar, and put it in the fridhe for 16 hours or so.
The following morning I patted it dry, and hit it with another coat of rub, and let it get to room temp while I fired up the grill. I live right in the middle of Boston, so large quantites of hardwood are tough to come buy (That stuff doesn't just grow on trees around here) so I had to settle for lump charcoal and hickory chips. Anyway, I fired up the charcoal and put it in the firebox. Waited until it hit 230 in the smoking chamber, then added the butt and made sure that the chimney vent was open, just about all the way, so as not to over-smoke. I also opened the firebox vent to keep air flowing there.
Very quickly, I found that the temperature was dropping below 200, forcing me to add more charcoal. Obviously, this added more charcoal smoke. The temp would rise to an acceptable range,, but then it would fall really quickly, within about 10-20 minutes, forcing me to add more charcoal. After about 7 hours of this cycle of me adding more charcoal every 20 minutes, the meat temp was only 135, so I had to remove it and finish it off in the oven, wrapped in foil. This resulted in an excess of moisture, like something that resembled crock pot pulled pork, but I figured that it was my first attempt, and so forth. I started shredding it, and I tried a piece, and it was awful. WAY oversmoked. Tasted like pure charcoal. Bitter and disgusting. Instead of a nice light pink smoke ring, the ring was leaning toward purple. Nasty nasty stuff.
Obviously, the combination of opening the fire box to add more charcoal, thereby dropping temp, and the massive amounts of charcoal I used, lead to the oversmoking of the meat. The problem is, that I'm a a loss on how to maintain tempurature for long periods of time, without having to keep feeding my smoker like its a steam engine. I'm thinking that if I used logs, it would burn longer, but would it not lead to that oversmoked taste? I just cant figure out how to keep this thing between 220 and 230. Any advice is greatly appreciated.