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Pork Shoulder, Smoker Turned Off

ShaeSays

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Joined Jan 20, 2021
Hello all,

Brand new to smoking. I have a ZGrill pellet grill. I just tried my third smoked meat.

The first was a pork shoulder. I had a problem, but salvaged it. More on that later. The second was a huge mutton leg (yes, mutton, not lamb!). That came out perfect.

My third was a pork shoulder, started yesterday. Actually it turned out to be two pork shoulders together inside the package. I rubbed them with a half salt homemade rub. They were sort of butterflied? Not a chuck of meat, as they appeared in the package, but able to be rolled out somewhat--not super flat, just a little. I rolled them back into a chunk before smoking.

Here's what happened.

I started the meat around 2pm at 225 degrees. I know from my prior two experiences that large cuts of meat seem to take 15+ hours, despite finding a lot of info on the Internet to the contrary. So I'm just expecting that to be the case. I ignore it for 4 hours, check it (it's nowhere near there), then let it go for another 3 or 4. At this point it's at least 140 degrees in one spot. I didn't check different spots.

I want to go to bed. I know that'll make the meat go a bit long, but I don't know, that's what I decided. I wrapped one in foil and not the other, because I wanted to see what the difference would be.

My smoker has this problem where pellets will fall and create a little sinkhole and stop falling, even though there are plenty in there. I piled them up good over the sinkhole spot. I went to bed. It happened anyway.

When I woke up the smoker was off and the meat was fully cold. I have no idea whether it turned itself off one hour after I went to bed or six hours after I went to bed. I do know that I refrigerated it, cut into it later, and it was firm, a bit pink, a bit moist in the very middle, but certainly not sloppy. It looked like a pork chop, maybe one on the rare side, not like pulled pork, so that gives some idea of how long it cooked.

At first I was like well hell I gotta throw this out. Then I thought, it's winter in Indiana. The outdoors at night is the temperature of a refrigerator. Maybe not? Is it a bit like I cooked it to some temperature and then refrigerated it? Does it depend on whether it ever got up to 160?

My first pork shoulder mistake was similar to this one, but a lot less iffy. I found the meat warm that time and I zapped it in my Instant Pot with some liquid. I froze it and ate it and never got sick.

Can I do the same here? Or did I poison it? :emoji_laughing:

I found this thread, and Chef Jimmy J's response, but obviously a few things are different (pork instead of brisket, higher starting temp, and I think my meat might have been BRT?): https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/smoker-turned-off-while-smoking-a-brisket.249688

chef jimmyj chef jimmyj
 

TNJAKE

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I agree. Safe to proceed. I'd also go the oven route like suggested.

Here's a great tip though. If you are gonna sleep during your smoke then get you a bluetooth or wifi probe setup that will alarm you if your temp drops or spikes. Ruining some meat may not be a big deal but burning down your smoker or house if it catches fire will definitely suck. They are cheap and site sponsor Inkbirdbbq Inkbirdbbq makes some good ones
 

ShaeSays

Newbie
12
13
Joined Jan 20, 2021
Thanks for both your responses! I'll check out the bluetooth probe. Obviously a good idea.

I see oven is the preferred route -- is it safe to do Instant Pot? It only took 10 or 15 minutes last time and it came out like perfect pulled pork, and still tasted smoky. It's tempting to be lazy. What do you like about the oven method?

If I do oven, what temp and for how long?

Thanks again!
 

ShaeSays

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Joined Jan 20, 2021
Also I probably shouldn't have put this in "roll call"--didn't notice til it was too late. Moderator please move if needed!
 

TNJAKE

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I have never used an instapot but yes that will be safe. The oven isn't much different than using your pellet smoker only no smoke. Your butt has already had smoke though so I'd throw in oven at 300 until it probes all over with no resistance like warm butter
 

chopsaw

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They were sort of butterflied? Not a chuck of meat, as they appeared in the package, but able to be rolled out somewhat--not super flat, just a little. I rolled them back into a chunk before smoking.
Something you should understand . If that's been de-boned , it's no longer sterile on the inside .
Cut open , boned and rolled traps whatever was on the surface inside . Just something to be aware of for future cooks .
 

TNJAKE

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Something you should understand . If that's been de-boned , it's no longer sterile on the inside .
Cut open , boned and rolled traps whatever was on the surface inside . Just something to be aware of for future cooks .
Nice catch. I skipped right over that when I originally read it lol
 

chef jimmyj

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I dont know why I didnt get an Alert on this. But the guys gave great answers.
From your description, am I correctly reading that you added the Salty Rub...THEN...Rolled them up?
The Salt would inhibit any Bacterial growth in the cuts and the meat getting to 140, before the smoker died, killed any survivors.
Nothing wrong with the Intant Pot. It's a lot faster than finishing in the Oven. The benefit of the oven is , you will get a Crispy Bark, that many enjoy more that the Pork itself.
In any event, Welcome to the SMF Family and feel free to message me anytime.Just click on my name and a window will open with the option to Start a Conversation...JJ
 

ShaeSays

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Joined Jan 20, 2021
Thank you chef jimmyj chef jimmyj and everyone for the responses and for the welcome!

For what it's worth, I washed the whole thing with water and salt before starting, so I'm hoping that helped regarding germs on the inside surface. I also rubbed the salt rub all over, including inside the rolled out part, before placing in smoker. I'll look for bone-in in the future (that's what my first one was). My method this time was to go to Costco and purchase whatever looked huge. :emoji_laughing:

Since I have two chunks, maybe I'll finish one in the instant pot and one in the oven, and compare.

Thanks again for all the advice, and yes, I'll definitely get a bluetooth probe. Obviously I need it since I have that pellet problem and since I can't stay awake for a whole smoke. :emoji_laughing:
 

SecondHandSmoker

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is it safe to do Instant Pot?
Welcome to SMF from SE Arizona.

Keep in mind, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot only reach 13 psi on the high setting. To effectively kill bacteria, 15 psi and a 30 minute cook time is recommended.
You could try a longer cook time in the Instant Pot to make up for the lower psi. However, the meat may end up mushy.
If it were me, I would finish the pork butt in oven at 300 degrees as Jake suggested above.

And as mentioned above, a remote digital thermometer set up is a must have for successful overnight smokes.
 

Murray

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I’ve always wondered why pellet hoppers don’t have a small vibrator attached to the hopper set up on a timer. Likely would have prevented your issue.
 

chopsaw

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Looks great . What's next ?
 

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