Doin' up a shoulder (first post, w/ Q-view)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by nc cue, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    Hi, all. I've read these forums for a few months now and have learned a LOT from ya'll. Got up early (although not as early as I'd planned) this morning to cook a shoulder and decided what the hell, I'll log it on SMF. Hope ya'll enjoy!

    I started with a 10.1 lb picnic ham. Would've rather done a butt, but the grocery store had a great sale on picnics; would've REALLY liked to do a whole shoulder, but I went to the store fairly late last night and the butcher had already gone home. Anyway, I digress. I cut the skin off, trimmed away a bit of the fat, patted the meat dry, then stuck it in the fridge while I got my fire going.

    I always initially start my fire with plane old charcoal in a chimney starter. Once it's ready to go, I spread the coals in my Char-Griller smoker, open the vents and the chimney about half-way, and let 'em burn for a while. When the temp reaches 225, I throw on a couple hickory chunks, put the meat on the opposite side, and that's all she wrote. To maintain temperature (I shoot for between 225-250), I throw on a few more hickory chunks every 90 minutes or so--no more charcoal. I'll also throw on some soaked hickory chips every few hours.

    The picture below is from right before I shut the lid. Yep, naked meat. I've experimented with a few rubs recently, but none I've tried has turned out as tasty as when I let the meat speak for itself and simply finish it off with a couple moppings over the last 2-2.5 hours of the smoke. Today, I'm going Lexington style--the stuff I grew up on. I'll get to that later, though. Time to watch some golf! I'm going to try to avoid cracking my first beer until it's at least a somewhat socially acceptable hour, but there's meat cookin' so I make no promises!


    Update: 5 o'clock somewhere and 9:02am at my smoker. Temp got a little low, so I just added a handful of hickory chunks. Like the way it's looking so far.

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  2. austinl

    austinl Smoking Fanatic

    Nothing wrong with letting the meat speak for it's self.
  3. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    NC Looking good.

    But I have always heard it is 5 o'clock somewere.......
  4. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    10:46am--It's gotten a little darker in the last 1:45 or so, but on the whole hasn't changed much. Wood is burning a bit faster today than it normally does; not sure why. I've had to open the lid up a lot more often than I'd like to, so I think this morning's goal of having this guy done for a late dinner (9pm or so) might be shot. I told myself last night that I'd start at 4:30-5am, and now I'm wishing I'd just dragged myself out of bed instead of sleeping in. Oh, well--'cue tastes good no matter what time of day it is! I'm gonna take the temp for the first time the next time I add more wood, which should be around noon-12:30.

  5. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  6. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    12:05pm--5 hours and 3 beers into my Saturday smoke. I usually aim for 1 beer/hr, so while I'm a bit short on a nominal basis (and who's to say I can't catch up?), I'm doing just fine when you take ABV into consideration[​IMG]. The GF has knows I'm a waste of life when she's out of town for the weekend, but I'm not sure she fully comprehends the true degree of my uselessness. The meat's internal temp is in the 155-160 range, depending upon where you measure. It's a bit higher than I thought it would be at this point in the process, but I fully expect to hit "the wall" soon. I'm shooting for 200-205. Looking like I'll have some pretty good bark by the time it's all said and done. Next update coming about 1:30.

    1:20pm--Almost 6 1/2, hours in. Not a ton of change, so I'm editing a previous post rather than writing a new one. Still hanging in the same temp region. I found my digital thermometer, which I trust a lot more, and it's telling me 159.4 in the thinnest part and 156.8 in the fattest part. Loving the way this one is coming together. I brined some boneless/skinless chicken breasts in equal parts brown sugar and salt last night (bought a bunch on sale a while back and I need to clear some freezer space), and I'll probably put them on the next time I open the lid. They shouldn't take a ton of time to cook, so they'll be a nice late lunch/early dinner--the shoulder looks like it'll have to be a late-night snack!

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  7. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I like the beer to hour ratio! My vice is tequila. Not sure how that would work if I was to do a 2 finger pour per hour.

    Q is looking good!
  8. Lookin' good!

  9. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    jarjar--two fingers an hour of tequila would WRECK me sooner rather than later. I can handle my booze, but I've got some baaad memories with that stuff.

    Not much of a change appearance-wise at 2:40pm, so I won't post a picture. Didn't even bother to take the temperature. I'm going to put the chicken on at around 3:30-4. Will rinse the brine off, dry them, and apply my chicken rub--salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder, and cumin (I'd have to kill ya if I divulged the ratios). Really getting annoyed by how often I'm having to add wood to my fire. Maybe my chunks are just less dense than usual? Everything else--vent, chimney, amount of wood I add each time--is the same. Very strange. I've never run into this before, and I'm hoping it doesn't increase my cooking time by as much as I fear it will.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  10. I live in an "apartment" so charcoal is a no no. I wonder if i will be able to duplicate your soon to be results when I get my MES with my newly acquired AMNPS
  11. Meat looks fantastic.  I might just have to do my own tomorrow now.
  12. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    3:51pm--Coming up on hour 9 for the shoulder (about 8:50 at the moment), and she's looking good. Decided not to take the temp because I typically find myself stuck around this time and unable to break above 180-ish. Definitely taking the temp the next time I open the hood. Also, now is zero hour for the boneless/skinless/on-sale/rubbed chicken breasts. My chicken experience is confined to whole birds and wings, so this is new territory for me. As I mentioned earlier, I bought a bunch of these on sale, froze them, and am cooking them today because I need freezer space. Going for 160-165 and will check when I check the pork.

    There are some storm clouds on the horizon that I'm hoping will shade north of my location. The GF's picnic-table umbrella is currently shielding the smoker; can't be too careful. ABV-wise I'm ahead of my normal beer curve, so that's comforting during a smoke that hasn't gone completely according to plan [​IMG].

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  13. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    6:02pm--the first shot is the chicken (done) and the shoulder (just over 11 hours on)  together right before I pulled the chicken off, and the second shot is the chicken (that I'm about to eat) cooling on a plate. The pork is running between 177-186 right now, so next time I add wood I'll probably mop the meat with the sauce that I'll start as soon as I finish typing this post. Will post the recipe later. Beers continue to be knocked back, and life continues to be good [​IMG].

  14. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All looks great, ya gotta love "Naked" Smokeing...[​IMG]
  15. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looking good!!!!
  16. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    7:56pm--just shy of 13 hours. The meat's between 191.4 and 199.6 degrees, depending on where you probe. Just added more wood and mopped on my super secret sauce (at left), which is a closely-guarded combination of apple cider vinegar, water, salt, black pepper, white sugar, dark brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and ketchup. For my sandwich sauce, I add some--but not too much--Texas Pete to the mix. 

    Thinking the meat will be done around 9:30-10:00pm, which would put the cook time at 14.5-15 hours. With the general consensus for picnics at +/- 1.5, I'm a little behind schedule on my 10.1 lb piece when you subtract the rind and excess fat. This is almost certainly due to my giving the wood a refresh a lot more frequently than I normally do. In any event, the 'cue looks good and my stomach, despite the delicious chicken, is starting to rumble!

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  17. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Slow and steady wins the race! Looking great..
  18. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    ~9:00pm--here she is 14 hours into her smoke. We're pretty low on light down here in Jawja, so apologies for the picture quality. On the plus side, the light level highlights the smoke pretty nicely [​IMG]. I think something went haywire with my digital thermometer, as I only got between 160 and 170 when I probed despite a constant smoker temp of +/- 225. Not sure what's going on there, as I'm fairly certain I'm in the 200 range. I just gave this bad boy another mop, and I'm going to check the temp again in a half hour or so. If it's ready, I'll take it off the heat and let it sit. If it's not, I'll mop it again and let it go another thirty minutes without adding any new wood.

  19. nc cue

    nc cue Fire Starter

    10:05pm--Looks like my thermometer's screwed the pooch here, so I'm working off feel. I'm only reading 165-ish, but after just a couple minutes over 15 hours in the smoker and a nearly 200-degree reading a few hours ago, I think this baby is D-U-N. Gonna let her sit for a half-hour or so, maybe more, then work in a little sauce while I hand-pull. [Bart Scott]CAN'T WAIT![/Bart Scott]

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  20. OMG it looks so good I'm going to try to duplicate this.  Bought a shoulder earlier tonight and I'm going naked as well.  Can't wait to see if mine turns out looking like yours.  Oh, why can't it be 24 hours from

    Thx for the pics..hope you enjoy.


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