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First Smoke Ever - Shoulders - I Have Questions!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by katemail13, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Hi, all.

    I finally 'seasoned' my new smoker today, and I am going to do my first smoke in two days.

    I bought a two-pack of pork shoulders at Sam's Club, and they are crouched in the fridge, waiting.  They are approx. 8.25 lbs each. 

    I have a recipe for rub that I will be using, but what else do I need to do to these beauties?  The smoker book says something about wrapping them in foil after 5 hours, and then continuing to smoke for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  What does this do?

    I have other questions, too, if anyone has time to answer them. 

    1)  I have a MES 30 (just got it a week ago).  Should I put foil or something over the chip holder/loader area to keep the meat drippings from getting all over the place?  It seems awfully messy to just put the meat on the rack, and toss it in there.  If someone did this to my OVEN, I might kill them.

    2)  Do I need to dampen the chips in any way?

    3)  The smoker book doesn't say what I'm supposed to do about the water reservoir...do I fill it? Leave it empty? If I fill it, do I keep it full, or let it evaporate?

    4)  Why is this forum called 'GRILLING pork'?  I couldn't find one called 'smoking pork'.  Am I in the wrong place?

    Thank you all for any and all help, guidance, or suggestions!

  2. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you want to have pulled pork bring your internal meat temp up to 205 and around 165 to 180 for slicing. Smokers are notorious for having inaccurate thermometers so if you have a probe type thermometer that you can put next to the meat it will help. You will probably be looking at 10-14 hour smoke at 225 or 8-12 at 265.

    A lot a real time smoking threads happen here so if you have any questions as you go don't be afraid to ask. 
    katemail13 likes this.
  3. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ignore the book on the cooking technique, it sounds like a recipe for failure to me. Woodcutter's advice is sound you should follow it, especially regarding the internal temperature for pulled pork being done. I would wait until you have a few cooks under your belt before you dive into the wet to dry technique, no sense in making things too detailed on the first time out. Pork butts are easy- rub, place in the pit, cook until done(195°205° internal temp), pull and enjoy.

    Regarding the cooking temperature, if you cook at 225° it will take a long time for your butts to cook, my advice is to cook at a higher temp, even higher than Woodcutter's 265°. I see the biggest problem that people have when cooking pork butts for the first time is that they are coming up on their projected serving time and the meat is no where near the desired internal temp. This happens frequently when cooking in the low range, 225°-250°. I recommend cooking at a higher temp, 265°-285°, it will lower your overall cooking time and make the day more manageable and perhaps less stressful as well. For the record I cook my shoulders between 285°-300°, at these temps your 8 pound butts would be done in about 7 hours, YMMV.

    If you do cook at the higher temps you should put 1/2 to 3/4 inch of hot water in the drip pan when you put the butts in the pit.

    Good Luck[​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
    katemail13 likes this.
  4. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    katemail13 likes this.
  5. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Thanks, everyone, for your kind replies. 

    I have another question:  The smoker booklet says add chips for the first 3 hours.  Can anyone tell me if that means DON'T add chips for rest of the smoke? 

    ...and ANOTHER question:  Anyone with a MES - if I'm smoking these shoulders at 275°, how long should the chips last before I put in more chips?  I have a really hard time seeing into the hole to see the status of the chips...without just getting an eyeful of smoke.

    I am going to rub the shoulders this afternoon, and let them sit in the fridge overnight tonight, then I will rub them again in the morning, and into the smoker with them.  [​IMG]

  6. raspy87

    raspy87 Fire Starter

    Hey Katie

    New to smoking here too! I would continue to add chips, especially for a 10-12 hour smoke. I do not have an MES but my guess is if you're getting an eye full of smoke no need to add chips. Just remember thin blue smoke not bellows off white smoke. At least that's what I've been told. As stated above a good thermometer is a great investment! The maverick remote is what I broke down an bought and haven't regretted since!

    I'm smoking some pheasant breast and sausages right now.any questions I'll check back periodically! Also anyone with more experience feel free to correct anything I may have stated incorrectly!

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
    katemail13 likes this.
  7. julliette

    julliette Fire Starter

    Hey Katie

    I have a 30" MES with window, I've only started using my smoker a little over a year ago,  First off be warned... once you started smoking your going to be addicted....LOL.... you are going to want to try smoking everything...I have smoked bacon ( no more store bought bacon for me)  Dried beef, chicken, Cornish hens, pork loin, chuckies, the list goes on and on. ( Sorry guys, I know pictures, pictures, I am so bad at that, I take pictures of raw product and then smoke it, eat it and say oops!!!! damn forgot pictures again).

    to answer your questions...I add chips about every 40 min to a hour, (strong suggestion, get your self a AMNPS, so much easier).

    cooking time???? you will find out that you do not go by time when smoking, but figure about 1 hr to a hr and a half per pound, it does depend on how hot you run your smoker, low and slow is the best.

    3 hours smoke time seems low, I would suggest longer smoke time,,, but everyone has there own taste preference.

    cover your drip pan...water pan with foil for easier clean up.

    I personally do not put water in my water pan, I have seen where some people will put sand in there pan for a more even heat. (cover sand with foil)

    You are going to find out that this is a great site to have handy, lot of helpful suggestion... have any question about smoking and someone on here will help you out, a great bunch of people, no question is to stupid, just ask away.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
    katemail13 likes this.
  8. Hey Katie, the reason the booklet says smoke for the first 3 hrs because generally that the period of time when the meat absorbs the majority of smoke. After that the meat forms a shell around it, which we lovingly refer to as "the bark". Feel free to continue to add chips for the rest of the smoke but the majority of the smoke has already been absorbed into the meat. I like a lot of smoke flavor and I keep the smoke going for the external parts of the meat, but make sure it is thin blue smoke and not white smoke. I have a mes 40 and I usually add wood chips every 2 hrs. Most of the time now I don't use chips, I'm using my AMNPS, might want to look into getting one from Todd, awesome product that produces the thin blue smoke every time and he's always there to help if you have any questions.
    Happy smoking!
    katemail13 likes this.
  9. Just a word or three about your MES. Keep the top smoke damper open ,Your chips work best dry and you can expect to add each hour. Your cook time will depend on your cooking temp. At 225 it will be a long cook(near 16 hours) but moving the temp up to 250 to 260 it will significantly lower the cook time. All cook times are different, that is the beauty of the forgiving Pork butt. It is better the next day Don't try to figure the cook completion time  for dinner or you will disappoint your self. Loose the water pan for the pork butt and wait till you have a few cooks under your belt Use a disposable aluminum pan with foil in it and it will double as a drip pan and pan to pull your butt in. I cover my bottom drip pan with foil   I cover everything with foil even the top of the wood chip holder. About your MES. The displayed temp is seldom what it is on the rack you  are using. Mine cooks 20 to 30 degrees hotter than shown. You need a dual probe thermometer insert one probe in the butt away from the blade bone but in the thick part of the butt. Use the other to monitor at the cooking location. If the controller is off tell Masterbuilt you want a replacement. You will not need to send the old one back./ The controller is one of the 2 parts that can fail after your warrantee is out of date. Save it for a spare. It did not take me long to find out that I needed to invest In a A-MAZ-N smoke  generator fill it once with pellets and it will smoke for 9 or more hours. Todd Johnston is a frequent contributor and the best friend a new smoker can have . He invented and brought to market several accessories that will make your cook easy. http://www.amazenproducts.com/default.asp  good luck and if you have questions someone will help you out. PS. I talked to the folks at Masterbuilt and as good as they are at customer service and they are good they don't know how to use their smoker. 
    katemail13 likes this.
  10. raspy87

    raspy87 Fire Starter

    Forgive my ignorance but what is an AMNPS?
  11. katemail13 likes this.
  12. The AMPS is the apparatus that holds the wood pellets. People will make you think they are hard to light but if you follow the instructions you should have no problems. Like most men I needed to try before  I read the instructions since then my only problem is turning it off.
    katemail13 likes this.
  13. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower

    smoking a pork picnic right now katie, i started it at 10 am this morning. im thinking its going to take around 8-8.5 hours. i did my rub yesterday and let it sit in the fridge overnight, then took it out about an hour before i was going to put it on. im currently smoking at 225-250 degrees. its been smoking for around 4.5 hours and my internal temp is sitting at 155 degrees.

    katemail13 likes this.
  14. acres87

    acres87 Fire Starter

    Katie thanks for your question I learned a bunch. I would agree with those that say "dinner will be served at....", is a big mistake. I've been "burned" a couple times.
  15. Something I found works really well, about an hour or more before the meat is done, place in a 9x13 pan and put about 1/2" apple juice in the bottom, tent with foil and finish in the oven.  This will help bring some moisture back into the meat.  Tried this on my last smoke (exact same meat from Sam's) and it worked beautifully
  16. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Again, thanks everyone!  I think I'm ready.  The shoulders are rubbed, wrapped in plastic and sitting in the fridge to go into the smoker first thing tomorrow morning.

    I guess I need to invest in a probe-type thermometer.  I will just be poking in the old instant-read for the time being.  I am very grateful for everyone's help!

  17. Katie
    U've received great advise.
    Pulled pork is a wonderful meat. And a Ton of fun!!
    It does take a long time.
    Consider looking at competition BBQ web sites.
    But here's a couple more
    Wood chips, chunks, splits is personal preference How much smoke flavor, much or how little You want
    Then the next question is Sauce keep looking! :-)
    KEEP HAVIN FUN with QUE:yahoo:
  18. Katie,

    Looks great. Do you have bone in shoulders. I bought my first shoulder pack from Costco and they were bone out, so I bought twine and tied the end closed to give a good even cook. Might want to try if you're in the same boat as me.

    As far as a digital thermometer, I recommend the Maverick ET-732, decent setup and hasn't failed me. Make sure to probe it away from the bone and don't push it all the way thru.

    Good luck and if you got questions during your smoke let us know and keep those QView pics coming!
  19. Hi Katie,
    The long smoke times at 225 degrees produce some great product. But the times are really long for us as we are using a stick burner. We typically inject the butts, rub them and put them in the fridge overnight. We then run the smoker at 275 degrees with a large water pan which cuts the time down quite a bit. Lots of folks will argue the next step, but after the internal temp gets to about 150 degrees we either wrap or pan them until it hits the finish temperature that you want.

    If there is one thing that I have learned about smoking, there is no absolute right way to cook, as lots of methods will get you some great Q. But there are a couple of completely wrong ways to run a cook. Don't worry though, the folks in this group would never steer you wrong...
  20. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Katie since you don't have the thermometer yet use your probe type but when it gets close grab the bone and wiggle it when it feels like it will slip right out the butt will be done and another thing they more than likely will not finish at the same time. When they get done wrap them in foil then an old towel and place them in a warm dry cooler for at least an hour this will allow the juices to get redistributed and result in a better final product