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Almost ready to give up smoking pork....

Discussion in 'Pork' started by micklouie, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. I have had 3 failures already with smoking pork. I have done the steps that are most popular in the smoking process with pork.

    Tried Baby Back Ribs, Pork Boston Butt, Pork Spare Ribs.

    Did the rub overnight. Let sit out. Warmed up smoker.

    Have a new thermometer other than the smoker.

    Kept temps around 200-225.

    Smoked ribs for 5 hours - tough, but good smoke ring

    Boston Butt - 8 hours still did not fall apart

    Spare Ribs - 5 hours, sprayed with apple juice,still tough

    I did a boston butt once for 4 hours. Then took to work and cooked in slow cooker for 8 hours. Fell apart and taste like the pros. Bone pulled right out. So it does work, but not smoker cooking which I really want to learn.

    Am I not cooking the pork long enough? I'm afraid I'm drying it out with higher heat.

    Took the 5 email online course, but it reads just like what you find online anywhere.

    I have had great success with chickens.

    Any thoughts?

    Should I cook longer?

    I have a Master Forge Propane Dble Door Smoker. I really like it.


  2. northern greenhorn

    northern greenhorn Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well you can't go by time on the pork butts, you have to go by the temp of the meat, try wrapping in foil after it hits between 160-170, and bring up to about 205, wrap in a towel, and put into a cooler for an hour, should stay moist, and pull apart nicely. As far as the ribs, did you try the 3,2,1 method for spareribs, 2,2,1 for the babybacks, I've used both and never had a problem, they're not gonna be fall of the bone, like in a slow cooker, but smoked ribs should have a firmness, you should be able to take a bite out of the rib, and not have it fall apart. Good luck, and never give up, do some chickens, or a turkey, maybe some chuckies, to bring your confidence back up, and head back out on the field and push forward. A friend of mine gave me some advice on smoking foods, he said, "You have to treat your smoker like a lady... don't rush it... women don't like to be hurried, and neither does good BBQ, don't argue with your smoker, it's like arguing with your woman... you're gonna lose, and finally pay attention, cause if you ignore either one long enough, you end up burnt and thrown out with the trash.", That advice has served me well, maybe it will help you, and the rest of the fine folks here at SMF.
  3. I agree with northern greenhorn, smoke by temperature. I am fairly new (about 5 months) and I have had similar size pork butts take anywhere from 8 to 15 hours due to a variety of reasons. However, they have all turned out well by smoking them to 200* - 205*. Good luck.
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    8 hrs for a butt at 200-225 is not long enough IMHO, 12-16 hrs depending on the size of the butt at those temps.

    Are you foiling the ribs? If not they will take longer at those temps also.

    Just FYI I cook ribs and butts between 235-245.
  5. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Pork butts have to be cooked low and slow on the smoker . You got the temp right but 8 hrs may be 3/4 of the way done.

    like others i have had them go anywhere from 12 to 18 hrs at those temps.  Patience is the key to smoking big cuts of pork and beef.
  6. chainsaw

    chainsaw Smoking Fanatic

    Can't offer much more except to echo don't give up yet!  The more details you share the easier it will be for everyone to offer help.

    One step I use (learned on this forum)  is to "rest" the butts in a cooler wrapped in towels for an hour or so after bringing to temp. If you want to pull the pork.

    Good luck!
  7. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like your smoking temps maybe a little low.  Usually use around 230 for the things you are talking about.  Ribs are one of the few things to smoke by time not temp.  You didn't mention what type of ribs, but follow either the 3-2-1 for spares or the 2-2-1 for Baby backs.  I agree with the above, seems like your butts got done way to fast.

     Don't give up!!!.

    I have an MES, but feel free to PM me before your next smoke and we will see if we can get you going.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    N. Greenhorn nailed it, low, slow, and foil the butts when they hit an internall temp of 165'ish, take to 200-205, rest in cooler for 2 hrs., pull and enjoy. Any of the larger chunks of beef and/or pork are going to take time. The only chunk o' meat that is somewhat fast is a chuck roast (chuckie), they usually finish in approx 6-8 hrs., everything else is usually 12+ hrs followed by another 2 hrs. of rest time.

    That butt you cooked for 4 hrs. then stuck in the crockpot for another 8 hrs. is the results you will get if you smoke till you hit 165'ish, foil, take to 200-205, and rest in cooler for 2 hrs. You will be able to just pluck the bone out and it will shred beutifully. Don't give up, just be patient, and make sure you have accurate temperatures on the internal temp. of the meat, and the smoke chamber.
  9. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You need to up the temp on them butts. 225 to 250 and it will take 12 hours or so. Go by internal temp. 195 to 200 but a little less or more isn't going to hurt anything. Your not going to dry it out even if you don't foil it. When I first started I never foiled a butt and they turned out awesome and juicy.... don't give it up... just learn from your mistakes.
  10. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    The first thing you need to do is "NOT GIVE UP" You will get it and you will just call this a bad learning exprience. So I'm with alot of the folks here you nees to raise the smoker temp to atleast 230°. I smoke everything except poultry between 230°-250° and you don't have to foil but I do. Then take the buitts to maybe 200°-205° and then you should be golden. Now for the ribs I would also raise the smoker temp. Then foil them after the first 3 (or2)  hours. Then continue for another 2 hours and then take them out carefully for they might fall apart and then smoke thm for anothter couple of hours. So the main thing here is don't give up. 
  11. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    I'm a newbie, too. Like the others, I found it took much longer for the butt. I have yet to foil and have had no problem with pork, whether ribs or butt. Just give it more time.

    Brisket, on the other hand ....
  12. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like your getting all the butt questioins ansewered. Now are you foiling those ribs? Thats the step in the 2nd hour of smoke with alittle juice like apple in the foil. This braise's them & shoule make them plenty tender! also use the bend test on them. If you pick up one side the other should bend almost 90 degrees. Don't give up yet. My first few ribs weren't good at all!!! [​IMG]
  13. miketron

    miketron Newbie

    SO I am VERY new to smoking but from what I have learned the most important thing is to be patient and don't worry... if you think the meat is done, its NOT. :)  Well as a newbie anyways :)

    I had the same fears as you: I'm drying it out... I'm over cooking it... Im under cooking it...  Im gonna screw this up and its going to taste like @$$, BUT all of my smokes so far have been nothing less than amazing :)

    I agree with what others have said above about you pulling the meat too soon.

    I do not foil so I do NOT have any advice for you on that. I have LOVED my BBQ without the foil BUT I still want to try foiling to see if I like it more or less than without the foil. I actually plan on a few coming smokes where I smoke two butts foiling one and not another to compare (and the same for ribs and briskets) :) but I digress...

    Questions to ask yourself before pulling pork shoulders off the smoker:

    1) If you insert a meat fork (or your thermometer) into the shoulder, does it glide into the meat with ease? This will only take you ONE smoke to determine when it glides into the meat :)

    2) Is the meat pulling away from the blade bone? If you grab the bone and wiggle it with a pair of tongs, is it loose?

    3) When you poke it with an instant read thermometer does it read between 197-200 degrees F?

    IF you answered YES to ALL three questions then its time to pull and wrap with saran wrap or foil to sit in a cooler for a few hours with your favorite ugly towels :)

    To determine if ribs are done I grab a full rack by a bone about 3-4 bones in from the in from the end and pick the entire rack up. If the rack looks like it is about to break and the meat is tearing or approaching that point then I pull it.

    I would highly recommend that you grab three baby back ribs and smoke them all until you think they are done BUT only pull the smallest rack. Cook the the next smallest for another 20 minutes then pull it off and finally the last one for another 20 minutes before pulling it off the smoker. This might help in determining the texture you are striving for.

    I hope this helps :)

    For a point of reference: I had ZERO smoking experience and ZERO friends to rely on so I purchased Low & Slow by Gary Wiviott and just followed his instructions to develop my barbecue "instincts"

    I think you can read the first 40 pages here to see if it is something you might be interested in: 
  14. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Sending you my cell # in a PM - call me and lets talk - DO NOT GIVE UP
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    calibrate your therms

    document your smokes w/pics

    keep accurate written records
  16. walle

    walle Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hang in there, bro!  Ribs and butts are easy once you get the hang of it.  PATIENCE!

    Like Northern GH above, you gotta know your smoker.  My biggest difficulty was expecting my smoker to act like my grill when I first started - kinda like expecting your muzzleloader to perform like your '.06, it just won't, but either will put down the same animal (cooked or otherwise!) just as effectively if wielded properly.

    On butts, I smoke them at 250* and the only difference is the shortened smoke time and better bark IMHO - even at those temps you're looking at at least 10 - 12 hours for an 8# butt.

    Take these feller's up on their offers for PM's or phone calls.

  17. new2que

    new2que Meat Mopper

    Now you've already had some greats giving you their 4cents (twice as good as the 2cents you'll get from me), but allow me.

    according to your description the only pork butt you've cooked successfully actually took 12 hours (4 in smoker, 8 in slow cooker) so right there you can see it'd take at least that long.  Now me personall, 225 is usually as low as I go.  Most of the time i like to keep it humming around 250... and lemme tell you, if you're basting it, and foil it, that butt aint gonna dry out! 

    Best of luck to you, and dont give up on the pig man, its the smokers best friend!
  18. wow excellent advice folks, I'm new at smoking as well and was wondering what flavor wood would you suggest using?

  19. john-z

    john-z Fire Starter

    Well the nice thing about this smokin' is even when it turns out sorta bad, it is still good.
  20. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What those guys said above.  Plus are you taking the membrane off the ribs?