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My first WSM cook tomorrow morning; pork shoulders

Lap

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Joined Jul 2, 2019
Scored a used WSM a couple weeks ago and am finally getting around to my first cook on it. Bought two, 10 pound pork picnic shoulders on sale at the local supermarket. I wanted boston butts, but couldn't find them at any of my local supermarkets. I asked the butchers at the supermarkets and they said they stopped carrying them because they didn't sell. Guess I have to find a local butcher for some boston butts.

I drilled out a hole and added a probe grommet for my thermoworks signals 4 probes. Just finished some prep: loaded up the WSM with charcoal and wood, loaded half a chimney with charcoal and made my rub.

Going to wake up at 5 AM tomorrow, get the charcoal going while applying rub and hope to get the meat on the grate by 6 AM.

Plan to cook at 225 and will wrap when they stall. Will pull off the meat at 200.

Couple of questions:
Does wrapping ruin the bark?
Do you let your shoulder sit for hours in a cooler after the cook?

I'm getting spun around with all the different techniques people use to smoke shoulders and trying to keep things simple for my first go at this.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
Andy
 

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noboundaries

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Congrats on the WSM score.

Does wrapping ruin the bark? Basically it is soft if you wrap. You can wrap late in the smoke, like 185F, and get a medium bark. Or, wrap in butcher or parchment paper at the stall for a medium bark. No wrap it's crispy.

You can put it wrapped in a cooler for hours, but it will continue to cook. If it was smoked no wrap, the bark holds up. Personally, I do no wrap most of the time, put it in a pan, cover with foil on the counter, then cover with some old towels for an hour or two. Pull and serve.
 

kelbro

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Pork is very forgiving. I would suggest cranking the temp up just a little to 250ish. If not, you may have to add more fuel before it reaches temp. Pain in the butt when it's almost done. As far as wrapping, it will save you a little time but if you like crispy bark, you are not going to get it.

You really have to experiment with your smoker to find out what it wants and how to produce the product that you want. I've not had a single smoked pork butt or shoulder turn out bad. Some not as good as others but none were bad!
 

EdP

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Joined Jun 1, 2019
Going to wake up at 5 AM tomorrow, get the charcoal going while applying rub and hope to get the meat on the grate by 6 AM.

Plan to cook at 225 and will wrap when they stall. Will pull off the meat at 200.

What time were you planning to serve it? I've attempted that temp/start time with butts/shoulders and it took a lot longer than planned.
 

Brian Trommater

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As Kelbro said. Will take long time at 225. Even 275 fine. Are you running water pan empty or with water? Don't wait to long to start closing down the vents if temp start rising. It's easy to get temp to go up but harder to get to come down. If you open very long during the cook the wood chunks will tend to catch fire and raise you temps. The WSM is my favorite smoker. Like any new grill takes time to learn it. Everyone has its own personality. Have fun!
 

SmokinVOLfan

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I usually wrap mine and still get decent bark. Yeah it is softer but my family likes it better than a lot of hard parts mixed in with the meat. I ran two 9 pounds butts last weekend at 225 and wrapped at 158 and they took almost 18 hours and that was with cranking to 250 after the wrap. I let mine rest for at least an hour before I start pulling...either use a cooler or you can wrap it in a towel and set it on your counter and will still be too hot to handle after an hour.

That's crazy you cant get butts...where are you located? I figured butts would sell better than picnics.

Good luck!
 

EdP

Smoke Blower
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Joined Jun 1, 2019
I used to wrap with foil, but switched to butcher paper based on a lot of the comments and examples here.

It contains the steam enough to cook meat faster and breathes enough to keep the bark pretty firm.


The other thing a lot of the experienced smokers here do is cook at higher temps, 275. I started using this temp, shorter times for everything and no difference in the quality.
 

Lap

Fire Starter
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Joined Jul 2, 2019
What time were you planning to serve it? I've attempted that temp/start time with butts/shoulders and it took a lot longer than planned.
Learned my lesson when I smoked ribs for my wife’s birthday and they weren’t done in time; wife wasn’t happy.

To avoid that stress, I’m not planning on eating the pork tonight. Just cooking it till it done.
 

Lap

Fire Starter
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Joined Jul 2, 2019
As Kelbro said. Will take long time at 225. Even 275 fine. Are you running water pan empty or with water? Don't wait to long to start closing down the vents if temp start rising. It's easy to get temp to go up but harder to get to come down. If you open very long during the cook the wood chunks will tend to catch fire and raise you temps. The WSM is my favorite smoker. Like any new grill takes time to learn it. Everyone has its own personality. Have fun!
Sitting around 245 now and may stay there based on feedback. Was going to sit at 225, but doesn’t sound necessary for tender pork.
Have a full pan of water in there.
 

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Berettaclayshooter

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I'm not a subscriber of the super low and slow (225F), I don't have the patience for it. I like to cook pork shoulders around 275F-280F. pork shoulder is fatty and won't dry out (I also use a water pan). I wrap with butcher paper around 165F and cook until 205F. You'll get a bone that shakes out and medium bark (a lot of the bark is depends on what's in your rub). I rest in a cooler for about 2 hours and it's still screaming hot.
 

Lap

Fire Starter
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Joined Jul 2, 2019
How was cook?
Had a couple of challenges, but the meat came out great!
My new thermoworks signals 4 had multiple issues on its first cook (battery wont hold charge, WiFi won’t stay connected), so thermoworks is sending me a replacement. Kudos to their customer support!
Plugged it in and had to babysit it, but no big deal.

Other surprise was I had to add charcoal late in the cook.
15 pound bag of royal oak wasn’t enough.

Took 7 hours at 225-ish until the shoulders hit the stall.
Wrapped them in foil at 160.
One shoulder hit 203 after 3 hours wrapped.
The other shoulder hit 203 after 5.5 hours wrapped.
Thought it was weird that they cooked at different rates since they were both 10 pound shoulders. There was a 15 degree difference in internal temp between shoulders throughout the cook.
Total cook times were 10 hours for shoulder number 1, 12.5 hours for shoulder number 2.

Rested them wrapped in towels and in a cooler for an hour.
That being said, the pulled pork was amazing!
My wife sounded like she was being pleasured by Bradley Cooper with each bite she took :)
 

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noboundaries

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Temp differences probably due to side light and top vent position. I center burn in my WSM and have still noticed chamber temp differences from side to side due to offset vent.
 

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