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Qview: Losing My Smoking Virginity With a Picnic Shoulder

Discussion in 'Pork' started by rob27502, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. rob27502

    rob27502 Newbie

    Happy New Year!

    I've posted on a few threads and yes, I am a noob. My smoker is a Char-Griller with the SFB. I will say at the outset that time, money and circumstance prevented me from making most of the standard CG mods before my first smoke. So I improvised. I did turn the charcoal pan upside down to serve as a baffle. And a little trial and error taught me that the POS temperature gauge that comes with the CG is about 75 degrees off (cooler) than what the grill surface actually is. I used a standard oven thermometer to figure this out. Once I knew that variance, I could use the on board temperature gauge just fine. Anyway, on to the smoke....

    My cut of meat was a picnic shoulder. I really toyed with getting a whole shoulder, but the size deterred me. We were having a few folks over for NYD and I wanted to be sure I had the meat done in time for our guests to eat.


    Being from North Cackalacky, I had to inject an eastern NC style barbecue sauce that I made myself. This is what's in the bowl at right. I then slathered in mustard and used a local product I really liked called Grill Master's BBQ Rub. This one has a bit of a caramel tint to it that it really nice. See below;


    At 6am the next morning, it was time to get my smoke on! I actually didn't get any pics of that. When you're up all by yourself doing this for the first time, you've got other things on your mind! [​IMG]Suffice to say - I fed the SFB a bunch of lump charcoal, got it up to speed, threw on some hickory and then put my picnic on.

    Here's a pic of the halfway point;


    And finally, here's the finished product;


    At this point, I had a house full of hungry people breathing down my neck, so I totally forgot to get the "money shot" of breaking this bad boy open. [​IMG] Needless to say, it was tasty and everyone loved it. I could DEFINITELY taste the hickory and it looked like I achieved a decent smoke ring on the picnic.

    Now that I've done this once, I've got a few thoughts and questions.

    I think it came out good, but not great, there's a lot of room for improvement to make my smoking process more efficient. A buddy of mine told me that from a smoking standpoint, I only need to worry about the smoke itself for the first couple of hours and after that, it's all just low and slow heat.

    I hope that's correct. It seems to make sense. Because I blew threw a #$%@load of hickory. (at least to me). I used all of an 8 pound bag of chunks and a two pound bag of chips. The hickory seemed to burn much hotter, but also much faster.

    Next, I really need to get these CG mods done to hold in more smoke and heat. Besides using a lot of fuel, I also burned a little bit hot all day. The smoker hovered at about 250 and when I added hickory, that would spike to just under 300. When this happened, I would just lift the lid a little until the temp lowered, but I do realize that's not the way to do it. Probably, most of my temp problems were the result of learning to manage a fire for the first time.

    I didn't search the forums for this yet, but can anyone recommend a good source of information on cutting and slicing these things when you're done? I wasn't very efficient with that, and had to nit pick out a lot of fat.

    Which, gets to my other point - there was more fat in it because I absolutely ran out of time and pulled the meat at about 185. It plateaud on me and I just couldn't wait. That's obviously a lesson learned - I'll need to build in more time. It's better to have the thing done before your guests need it, and keep it warm, than to take it off early. Granted, it was totally "done", but had not reached the ideal temp for further fat breakdown, flavor and tenderness.

    But hey, it still came out pretty good, so imagine what will happen when I do this right! [​IMG] Thanks SMF for all the great information. Next up? RIBS!!
  2. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I say ya did a nice job for your first. Were always looking for the lost chord no matter how many you smoke. One thing most of us on here do is foil at 150* and cook them till 200* and let them rest in a cooler with towels for a few hours and pull them. The bone should just fall out at this point.
  3. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now it sure looks like you have been doing this for a while now. Great Job.[​IMG]
  4. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Smoking Fanatic

    Looks good. And yes dont forget the part about wrapping in a towel and putting in a cooler for an hour after you hit 200*. It does sound silly when you first read the method, but i really saw the difference this weekend. I did a shoulder a couple weeks ago, had lots of time, foiled at 165*, pulled from smoker at 195*, wrapped in towel and put in the cooler for an hour. It fell apart. This past weekend, i did 2 shoulders, both 4 lbs, one went a little slower than the other. But as i was running out of time and 15 people were showing up at my house, i pulled them out of the smoker foiled at 190*-195* and wrapped in a towel and put in the smoker. One shoulder was in the cooler for about 20 mins the other was barely in there for 5. And they did not fall apart like the previous one. They still pulled and tasted stupendous, but the fall apart factor was not there since i tried to rush them.
  5. Yeah the tendency starting out is to overdo it on the smoke. That sounds like way too much ecspecially considering the strong taste of hickory. It really doesn't take as much as you think it does. I generally use about 8 hickory chunks for a whole smoke when doing boston butt. If you burry them under the coals they will smolder for a long time which is the effect that you want. Thin, blue smoke and not the billowy white stuff. I did my first few cooks blind because I thought I knew what I was doing, but SMF has dramatically improved my process. That HT Traders sauce is some good stuff for store bought ain't it?
  6. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good advice above.  I have read on here multiple times that after about 140, there is little smoke uptake in the meat.  I have an MES, but that still sounds like a lot of Hickory.  Still looks great with your Q VIEW.
  7. rob27502

    rob27502 Newbie

    Thanks for the advice everyone!

    Smokinstevo27 - My wife has this strange notion that barbecue needs sauce drizzled over it after you cook it. So she insists on buying stuff like that HT Traders sauce whenever I cook. It's funny though - once my guests taste the meat, they never seem to need the sauce she insists on having!![​IMG] That's really good info on putting the hickory under the coals and looking for thin blue smoke. In last weekend's smoke, I'd put a few chunks on, and they'd smoke like crazy for 15-20 minutes and then back down to nothing.

    I'm definitely going to try the cooler trick next time. Heck, it may be as soon as this weekend!!

    Last, is it just me, or can the big bags of natural lump charcoal be a bit of a rip-off? Don't get me wrong, I know that's the right fuel for the heat. But the bottom third of my bag was nothing but little chips, not chunks at all. Yeah, that's still usable, but not as ideal as the larger pieces. It seems to me that the vendors are getting away with a little trickery by having the advertised weight, but made up partially of crappy little chips.
  8. I get along fine with good ole Kingsford Blue
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011