Pulled Pork with Lotsa Q-View - Thanks to all of the members here!

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Jun 4, 2012
Central Wyoming
Howdy, all.

I've done a couple of pulled-pork smokes before, but it's been quite a while, so I turned to the advice of all of the experts on here when I ran across some irresistible Pork Shoulders (Boston Butts) at the local Sam's Club and couldn't resist.

Reading a lot of threads about smoking these critters on here got me back up to speed, and gave me the benefit a wide range of experience and opinions.

I especially have to thank Bearcarver for this thread:


Not only was the cut of meat he used exactly what I had, but he was using the exact same smoker and smoke generator as I use.  The step-by-step instructions proved invaluable to me.

And since I had to make a rub for the project, I ran across this thread by chefrob:


This was the sort of thing I was looking for because I wanted a no-sugar recipe.

I bought a package of two Boston Butts, total weight about 15 lbs, so each one was about 7.5lbs.  I vacuum packed and froze one for later and then got to work on the other one.

Per Bearcarver's instructions, I coated the butt with mustard and then added a goodly amount of my rub, based on chefrob's recipe.

I then managed to wrestle the thing into a very large ziplock bag without scraping much off, and into the fridge it went overnight.

The next day (election day), I cleaned the window of my MES and started heating it up.  Something seemed appropriate about "Pork Butt" in the context of politics, I guess.

I filled the AMNPS part way.  The first 2/3rds of a row were Pitmaster's Choice, and the rest was hickory.  All of it had been dried in a microwave oven before using it.  I lit it using my usual mapp gas torch and let it burn for a few minutes.  My MES is modified, with the OEM chip burner and hopper completely removed and my own vent tube, drip shield, and reflector in its place.

Next, I stuck my magnetic computer fan on the corner of the smoker so it could huff and puff and really get the pellets going for me.

I guess we'll see if an animated GIF file works when embedded into the forum.  :)

Hey!  It seems to show OK on my machine here.  The fan is in the lower left of the video, stuck to the frame of the smoker by the magnets I have mounted to the corners of the fan.  That method really stokes the pellets and gets a good burn going in a hurry.

After the fan treatment, things were glowing well.  I have to be very careful to use dried pellets and get 'em going well at this elevation (5300').

I had the pork out of the fridge, but still in the bag.

Getting it out of the bag without scraping much of the rub off was a bit tricky, but I got it onto the next to the top grate of the smoker without too much trouble.  I often use a piece of foil on the top rack to force the smoke to move all the way to the left before it can then go out the vent at the top right.  It's in place for this smoke since I didn't need the top rack.

I put a pan directly below the butt to catch and collect any drippings.

I hung the MES's meat probe just below the butt on a couple of paper clips so that I could use it to report the temperature very near the butt itself, but not in direct contact with it.

People have complained about the accuracy of their MES's meat probes, but I tested mine at a number of temperatures in a dry-block temperature calibrator against a NIST traceable thermometer and found mine to be with 1 degree F over its whole range.  So I trust its readings.

With the probe hanging below the meat, but not touching it, I can get an idea of what the air temperature is in the close vicinity of the meat.  And, of course, it's always cooler than whatever the smoker is set for because the meat and the moisture it gives off cools the air around it regardless of what the overall air temperature might be in the smoker.  Since I can read it remotely, I get an idea of how the smoker is really doing by reading it from time to time.

With the door closed, the view in through the window.

The butt went in and the door was closed at 5:45pm.

I set the top vent to 3/4 open with a short (about a foot long) chimney stuck into the opening for that top vent to get more draft when/if needed.

I initially set the smoker's temperature all the way up to 275° just to get things rolling.

At 6:10pm, I turned the temperature down to 260°.

At 6:37pm, I closed the top vent down to 50%.  With my modifications, I can get a LOT of airflow through the smoker.  Much more than before I removed most of its "guts".  So while the usual advice may be to keep the top vent fully open on an MES, I actually need to throttle the airflow down when running the smoker at higher temperatures when there's a lot of draft.

At that point, the chamber/ (below the meat) probe was reading 181°, and there was visible steam coming off of the meat.

At 8:00pm, the "below the meat" probe was reading 192°.  The AMNPS had burned its way into the hickory pellets at this time.

At 9:00pm, the "below the meat" probe was reading 206°.  The AMNPS was burning its way around the first "turn".  100% hickory pellets now.

At 10:00pm, the "below the meat" probe read 205°.  The outdoor temperature was down to 41°, and it seemed like the smoke production was dropping off a bit, but the pellets were still smoldering.  I started to worry that I may need to swap in some new dry pellets, but I just kept an eye on things.

I kept feeling guilty about rousting the cats off of my lap every time I got up to check on the progress of the smoker.  They were engrossed in the election results, and grudgingly got off of me each time.

At 11:40pm the "below the meat" probe still read 205°.  But now I was finally seeing some fat dripping off of the meat into the pan.

The AMNPS was still smoldering, so that was just dandy.  I finally probed the meat in two places with my trusty Thermoworks RT600C and found it to be at 148° in both places.  I almost felt guilty about stabbing the meat because it immediately started dripping some lovely juice from the tiny wounds.  Note to self:  Stick the probe in from above, not from the side so the holes don't leak out more precious juice!

I have to mention how much I love these Thermoworks RT600C thermometers.  They're very fast, run forever on a single lithium coin cell, are fully immersible (you can run them through the dishwasher) and they even have a min/max function designed to test the high temperature of your dishwasher!  But mostly, they're cheap, calibratable, very fast, have a tiny probe tip so you don't poke a huge hole in the meat, and they're easy to use.

I tested the calibration of mine against a fancy NIST-traceable thermometer, and it's dead-nutz on (to the tenth of a degree) at every point I tested.  I can't complain about that for a $19 thermometer!  In case you can't tell, I'm kind of a thermometer nerd.  I also highly recommend getting a few of these.  They make great gifts and everyone needs at least one GOOD thermometer for their kitchen and smoking.

If you buy any Thermoworks products, be sure to get them directly from Thermoworks.  Many sellers resell them for a higher price, or sell counterfeits.

At 1:20AM, I again probed the meat and found it to be at 155° IT.  I then took the MES's meat probe from its position hanging below the meat, and inserted it into the meat so I could now read the meat IT remotely.  It immediately read 156°.  Verification, again, of the MES's meat probe's accuracy.

Now I can read the meat's IT via the MES's remote.

But the AMNPS was getting close to running out of pellets.  Oh no!

So, I took the AMNPS out, and poured in more pellets, overlapping them on top of the last of the smoldering ones already in place.  I didn't add too many because I figured I was getting close to the point where I'd want to foil the meat anyhow.  I used some Pitmaster's Choice and some Hickory for the "top off".

Placed back into the MES, the new pellets were ignited by the already glowing ones below them.  Excellent!

2:50AM:  I was getting sleepy and thinking of going to bed and I was ready to foil the meat, anyhow.  In keeping with the "no sugar" theme of the recipe, I took six ounces of water and added two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and one tablespoon of the rub mix, and stirred that up.

The meat was looking fine, with a good bark on it, plus the pellets were again running low, so it was time for the "foiled" phase of the cooking.

I took the AMNPS out of the MES and closed the MES's top vent completely.

I added my water mixture to the drippings already in the drip pan, and then moved the meat down into the pan.

Note that the meat probe was still inserted into the butt.  The IT was now 161°.

I added foil up over the meat, not letting it actually touch it, and secured it to the pan such that it fits in lower than the lip of the pan all the way around so any drips rolling down on the inside of the foil would drip down into the pan rather than leaking out over the edge.  Sort of a "drip edge" all the way around the foil lid if you see what I mean.

I left the smoker set at 260°.  The ambient temperature was down to 34° now.

I went to bed!

At 6:00 am, I checked the remote, and the IT was now up to 203°.

Not wanting to get up yet, I turned the smoker temperature down to 150° so that if I slept too long, the butt would be kept up at a safe holding temperature regardless.

At 9:30am, I checked, and the IT was down to 168°.

Now I turned the smoker down to 100° to let it begin to cool down for the pulling.

At 10:40, I finally got up and took the butt out of the smoker and brought it inside.

The thermometer read 158° at this point.  Still a bit hot, but I knew it'd cool off soon enough as I started to dismantle it.

The bone slid out easily, and it tasted great!

I pulled the pork, getting rid of any really blatant fat, and some of the bark along with it, unfortunately.  But I kept a lot of the bark, and chopped it up fairly fine to mix with all of the lovely pork to add flavor.  I also poured off the drippings/sauce, and let it stand to get the fat to the top.  I de-fatted it as best I could and then added most of that liquid back into the pork.

It really does taste good.

I vacuum packed four packages of about 10 oz each to freeze, but kept the rest out in the fridge for more immediate consumption.

Then I went to work.

My wife called later and said that she'd found it in the fridge, heated some up, and had it for dinner when she got home.  She absolutely loved it!  That's what I wanted to hear.  :)

Now I need to find a good recipe for some no-sugar barbeque sauce to compliment the pulled pork.  I know this site won't let me down on that.

Thanks again to EVERYONE for their postings, many many of which went into making this particular smoking session a success.
This was a really great thread and I enjoyed all the pictures and reading about your process! POINTS!  There are definitely some sugar free sauce recipes on this site.  I would even suggest using a finishing sauce instead of BBQ sauce and replace any sugar with a natural sweetener like stevia.  Search for finishing sauce and you will get lots of ideas!
Nice post, you really covered it all very well.

Great looking PP.

Looks like the fur kids were doing alright too.

Points to you.

Hope you had fun with it.

This is a great thread!

Nice job!

The PP looks delicious!


Thanks!  I tried more of it today, and it was even better.  I think, when I'm smoking something, and then eat it right away, I don't get a true sense of the flavor because I've been around the smoke the whole time.  But later, with leftovers, I get a better idea of the flavors because I'm tasting it with "fresh" taste buds and sense of smell.  Karen raved about it again today, so I think that method and the rub recipe worked very well.  She said I shouldn't change a thing about it.
This was a really great thread and I enjoyed all the pictures and reading about your process! POINTS!  There are definitely some sugar free sauce recipes on this site.  I would even suggest using a finishing sauce instead of BBQ sauce and replace any sugar with a natural sweetener like stevia.  Search for finishing sauce and you will get lots of ideas!
I like the idea of a finishing sauce.  I need to read up on it.  I did mix most of the de-fatted sauce from the pan back into it, and I think that's got a lot of flavor because it all had to drip off or out of the butt when smoking it, and then also capture all of the condensed moisture that would have collected and run down over the butt during the tented foil phase.  So not only does it have the water/Worcestershire sauce/rub mix that I put in the pan, but it also has any smoke flavor and rub that got washed off of the outside of the butt while foiled, too.

The little bit of that sauce that I didn't mix into the meat right away, I put in a cup in the fridge, and at this point, it's a nice jello type of stuff.  I put a spoonful of that on the last batch I heated up in the microwave, and it melted into liquid, and that was some tasty eating.  Perhaps that's sort of a finishing sauce.  I do need to read up about finishing sauces.
Nice post, you really covered it all very well.

Great looking PP.

Looks like the fur kids were doing alright too.

Points to you.

Hope you had fun with it.

Thanks!  It really was a fun smoke.  The kitties like to pile on if I sit down for a while.  They love being on or near us.  They get so comfortable and sacked out that I always feel bad when I have to get up.

Isabelle, the big one closest to the camera in that shot weighs just a few ounces less than 20#.  You really feel it when she's on you!  She made quite a fuss when I was pulling the pork, and she got more than a few bites.  I think she approved of it, too.  :)
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