Disappointed in my Shoulder

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Sep 8, 2006
Casa Grande, AZ
Smoked 2 3-4# shoulders tonight. Started out great. Nice smoke..Temp at 225'..Added wood and sprayed with apple juice and bourbon every hour..About the 8th hour I was still at 120' according to my probe thermometer. I looked at the internal rack thermometer under the porch light (it was dark and my eyes aren't like they used to be)..190' it said! Well, my outside door thermometer on my GOSM read 225' the whole time! OK..Cranked up the heat (propane) and the outside door thermometer said 300'..Inside was at 225'. I wrapped the shoulders in foil when they reached 160'.

So, 11 hours later they're finally at 190'. I take them off. Set them in a cooler and bundle a towel over them.

1 hour later I open up my foil gift and they look great. Smell great.. Ahh success!


I go to use my Bear Paw shredders and the thing is like rubber. Tough as can be. Tastes great though. I even made the finishing sauce for them. But the shoulders were not "shredable" at all.. :(

I am so disappointed. All that prep and all the work.. It's 33' here in Phoenix and we're not used to the cold so I froze my pork butt off waiting and checking the temp every 15 minutes or so. Needless to say, I put some time into these things.

OK..How do I save them? This is my very 1st (virgin) meat smoking. I did some ABT's for Christmas and the wife said they smelled like burnt wood. She's my worst critic. I thought they were awesome and so did everyone who ate them. I can't justify any more smoking with the wife because these were so rubbery and I was SO sure I had everything just right. I'm embarassed.. Can I put them in the house oven tomorrow (today) for dinner and bring them back up to 200' and will they tenderize? I can't do it now because I'm headed to bed. It's almost 5am and I haven't seen my the inside of my eyelids in a while.

Thanks all for your help
Hi There Az_Redneck!

First and Foremost...Don't get discouraged...Every one of us has had a few disappointing smoking episodes under our belts in the beginning...Don't worry about it :)

The first test is the taste test...When you sampled it you told us in your post that it tasted great....thats half the battle.

Next you tell us it still was not pullable/shredable even though the thermometer read 190 degrees..I would honestly suspect the thermometer of being unserviceable...I use a simple "quick read" thermometer which you can pick up at Wal-Mart for 5-6 dollars and it never fails me... :!:

If the internal temperature of the meat was truly between 190-200 degrees then the meat should have pulled or shredded very easily..So first check your thermometer.

At 160 degrees of internal temperature Pork is safe to eat and it will slice nicely but it will not pull or shred Once again this points me back to the serviceability of your thermometer!

Yes! You most certainly may reheat your shoulders in the oven today and they may cook further and you may be able to shred them..Again if the internal temp gets to 190-200 degrees you should have no trouble.

It seems that you had them in the smoker for a sufficient period of time seeing as they weighed only three to four pounds each..

I usually do two butts together which normally weigh 8-9 pounds each..In the winter (Maine) it is a 20-24 hour project..During the summer it takes 15-18 hours for the same size butts...there is less heat loss in summer.

Could it be that you were opening your GOSM too often? This would increase the cooking time tremendously...I only open mine about once every hour and a half to mop the meat otherwise I leave it alone.

here is a link to GOSM operating instructions perhaps by re-reading you may pick up on something you were doing incorrectly...

Go Here: http://www.wyntk.us/food/gosm-propan...structional-gu

Go here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=617

for my tutorial on pork shoulders/butts which includes good pictures and a description of the process which I use.

I sincerely hope this helps!....Again; if the pork is truly at an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees...it definately will Pull and or shred very easily! :)

Please let us know about any further problems or if this has helped.


ranger72 8)

OTBS # 14
Hi Az_ Redneck, sorry to hear about outcome of your first smoke, but like ranger72 said don't get discouraged, by the way I'm in total agreement with him, it sounds like your theremometers are off, I also have a GOSM propane smoker and learned early on never to rely on the door thermometer. I invested in a wireless remote thermometer called an et-73, it has two probes, one for the meat and the other measures the grill level temp, and the greatest thing is I don't have to go outside all the time and freeze my butt off, (no pun intended :D ) Also opening the door every hour will really add to your cook time, especially in the outdoor temps you mentioned, shoulders and or butts are one of the most forgiving peices of meat because the have so much fat running through them, so IMHO you don't need to spray them every hour, I just spray it real good after the bark is set and I have to add some more wood anyway. Sounds like everything else you did wad spot on.Hope this helps and keep on smoking!!

ok..I have been semi-redeemed. I put the shoulders in the house oven and got them up to 200'. I let them sit another hour before opening the foil. Tender as can be. A bit dry though because much of the prized juices leaked out into my cooler and got absorbed by the towel. I tried to save as much as possible. It was really good though. I REALLY like the rub recipe I came up with for pork. (No cumin) 8)

Thanks all for your help..On to more soaking and smoking :D
Az, the door thermo on my GOSM is off as well, they say that you can calibrate it by taking it off of the door and placing the probe end into a cup of boiling water. If it regesters at 212* you're good to go, if it's off, use a small wrench (1/4 inch I believe) and turn the nut on the thermo in the direction that it needs to go to bring it to 212*. I got me the Maverick ET-73 themometer so I never got around to calibrating the door thermo.
Check your therm(s). I had one that read 140 when the temp was actually 70. I was just about to pitch it and decided to change the probe just in-case. It was the probe. I don't know what about a probe would make it read so hi, but it did. I salvaged a 50 dollar therm for 6 bucks. I have good Taylor wireless therms, so it's not an issue of brand, expense, wired, wireless, etc. Just because you spend the big bucks, don't mean it can't be wrong.
BTW, I have 6 therms, just to make sure.

Glad to here your project wasn't derailed too much...One more little tip..If you run in to the problem of the juices running out the foil wrappings while resting in your cooler any time in the future...

Simply add a some applejuice or some Italian dressing to your butts while re-wrapping them with new, clean foil and then put them in the oven to finish.

The addition of the tasty liquids will re-hydrate your pork and all will be good as new...I promise! :D

We are all very glad to hear that you didn't allow your initial disapointment to cause you to fail in your overall mission..

There is always a way to fix these minor setbacks providing you follow safe food handling procedures and the meat has not spoiled.


ranger72 :)
If you're going to use a sauce that is going to have some sweetness to it and you don't want to add the additional sugars from the apple juice, I've had good results using at bit of low fat, low sodium chicken stock.
Hey Az- I'm kinda disappointed in my shoulder too.

I had a grade 2 shoulder separation last year and it never heal together quite right. The sawbones thinks that I may have a torn rotator cuff too. All this cold weather makes my shoulder ache and that really makes me disappointed!! :( :P

I know we're talking different kinds of shoulders but what the hey!! :mrgreen:
When cooking meat the inportance of temperature can not be over stressed! Even a good thermometer can go bad.

Just before smoking (or brewing for that matter) I always nuke a cup water until it boils - then stick your thermometer in to check it. it should read about 212 degrees. If it doesn't you can either get another one or make a note of the difference and add or subtract what you found.

Only takes a minute and reduces "smokers (or brewers) stress."
That's one of the reasons I like the dial type instant reads vs. the digital thermometers. With the dial type I can adjust (calibrate) the indicator up or down by turning the nut on the back of the dial. Unless you pay some MAJOR bucks, it's kind of hard to find a digital instant read thermometer that you can calibrate.
Good point Dutch!

I have noticed that places like Wally World sell therometer that don't have a calibration nut. Guess there dispsable.
If you get one that doesn't get cooked through enough, you can always throw it in the crock pot until it comes to temp. I used to do shoulders int he crockpot with some rub and pork marinade before I got my smoker. Always fall apart good!
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