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Smoked butt in kettle?

Dunstablegrizzly

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Doing a small 5lb pork butt tomorrow. It's cold here in New England and I noticed my wsm struggle a few weeks back when I smoked a 10 lb brisket so I was wondering if I use my kettle to smoke the pork butt or simply use sand in my wsm? To be honest I haven't smoked in my weber kettle so I may choose to do it there. Wait I have smoked a small meatloaf in the kettle but it was at 300 - 350 degrees and for about 1.5 hours. I haven't smoked at 250 for extended period of time.
 

noboundaries

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There's nothing magical about 250F. You can use the Kettle, or the WSM, and run it hot. Same result as 250F, just quicker. Back when I worked and we had a potluck, I'd run 300F+ in my WSM and the butt would finish in about an hour / pound. Granted, it wasn't 10F outside, but it works.
 

Dunstablegrizzly

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There's nothing magical about 250F. You can use the Kettle, or the WSM, and run it hot. Same result as 250F, just quicker. Back when I worked and we had a potluck, I'd run 300F+ in my WSM and the butt would finish in about an hour / pound. Granted, it wasn't 10F outside, but it works.
Running that high I assume you didn't run it with water right?
 

noboundaries

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Running that high I assume you didn't run it with water right?
Correct. No water. Dry smoke which is ALL I do. Water is a heat sink and isn't necessary to control temps if you can do it with vent adjustments. Water does cause a little more smoke to adhere to the meat, but you won't miss it unless you like heavy smoke flavors. It does nothing to keep the meat moist, and I've read studies that show it can actually have the opposite effect and dry meat out by increasing evaporative cooling. Not really an issue with a collagen filled, fatty butt, though. Just FYI.

Edit: Full disclosure. I smoke butts overnight in my WSM at 225F, then crank the heat up in the morning north of 300F. I like sleeping through a smoke. It only takes about 3-5 hours for a couple of 10 lb butts to finish once I crank the heat up in the morning.
 
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SmokinAl

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I do the same thing as Ray, all night at a low temp then crank the heat up in the morning. Or I just get up early & run the smoker at 270-280 all day. An 8 lb. butt takes about 10 hours at a higher heat and I don't notice any difference between low & slow or hot & fast.
Both taste the same!
Al
 

Dunstablegrizzly

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Correct. No water. Dry smoke which is ALL I do. Water is a heat sink and isn't necessary to control temps if you can do it with vent adjustments. Water does cause a little more smoke to adhere to the meat, but you won't miss it unless you like heavy smoke flavors. It does nothing to keep the meat moist, and I've read studies that show it can actually have the opposite effect and dry meat out by increasing evaporative cooling. Not really an issue with a collagen filled, fatty butt, though. Just FYI.

Edit:
 

uncle eddie

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I am doing an 8.5 lbs picnic roast right now - 2nd cousin to the Boston Butt. I popped it in my MES40 at 250F a little over 12 hours ago and it is at 190F already.

I used to do all butts and picnic roasts at 225F, but see no difference at 250F. I think I will do the next few at 275F.
 

Dunstablegrizzly

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Ok well I ended up using my wsm because I just didn't want to fuss around with adding charcoal here and there in the kettle. I was going to put sand in my smoker but couldn't find the bag I had stored in the shed. Plus its actually warm outside, 31 in the morning and 41 in the after. Put water in the bowl and ran the wsm with all vents fully open. It peaked around 269 for about 2 hours and then dropped to 238ish. Noticed the charcoal wasn't catching consistently. Bought the embers brand from home depot as it was on sale for 2 20lbs bags for $10. Should have bought the kingsford for 2 18lbs bags for 25 bucks. Oh well live and learn. It just never fails everytime I switch from kings Ford I never get the same results.

So butts been in since 750 am and now its 149 at 1100 am.
 

RiversideSm0ker

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That’s interesting that you feel the Embers brand is underperforming. My experience is the exact opposite with kingsford being the underperformer. Hang in there and the end results will be worth your efforts.
G
 

noboundaries

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Ok well I ended up using my wsm because I just didn't want to fuss around with adding charcoal here and there in the kettle. I was going to put sand in my smoker but couldn't find the bag I had stored in the shed. Plus its actually warm outside, 31 in the morning and 41 in the after. Put water in the bowl and ran the wsm with all vents fully open. It peaked around 269 for about 2 hours and then dropped to 238ish. Noticed the charcoal wasn't catching consistently. Bought the embers brand from home depot as it was on sale for 2 20lbs bags for $10. Should have bought the kingsford for 2 18lbs bags for 25 bucks. Oh well live and learn. It just never fails everytime I switch from kings Ford I never get the same results.

So butts been in since 750 am and now its 149 at 1100 am.
They don't call me the charcoal nerd for nothing. Kingsford burns differently than RO. It is less dense with more volatiles (crap that burns) so it will "catch" throughout the pile faster. The con is that it won't last as long and will ash snuff more quickly.

RO is 25% more dense with fewer added volatiles. The heat generated will spread more slowly through the fire, but last longer. RO generates the exact same amount of ash as Kingsford, but won't snuff as quickly. My own head to head test had RO lasting 47% longer than than KBB.

It was the water that brought down your temp, not the charcoal. I've dry smoked with my WSM with temps in the high 20s to low 30s and had no problem keeping temps up.

Water temp will not increase above 212F at atmospheric pressure. Water absorbs a LOT of heat energy that could be heating your chamber, that's why it is called a "heat sink." Water expands in volume 1700 times when it flashes to 212F steam. That 212F steam condenses when it touches any thing colder. It all acts in a way to keep your chamber temps down.

If you are trying to run at 300F and put water in your smoker, it's like putting a standard carbureator on a 300 mph dragster. No matter what you do, it won't perform as you want.

The majority of experienced WSM owners have tossed their WSM instructions and dry smoke. If you do decide to give dry smoking a try, don't use RO like KBB. Use fewer hot briquettes to add to your cold pile for low n slow cooks. For hot n fast, add the same amount.

Let us know how that 5 lb'er turned out!

Edit: One more thought. When the water evaporates, don't refill the bowl. Watch the chamber temp climb dramatically.
 
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Dunstablegrizzly

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They don't call me the charcoal nerd for nothing. Kingsford burns differently than RO. It is less dense with more volatiles (crap that burns) so it will "catch" throughout the pile faster. The con is that it won't last as long and will ash snuff more quickly.

RO is 25% more dense with fewer added volatiles. The heat generated will spread more slowly through the fire, but last longer. RO generates the exact same amount of ash as Kingsford, but won't snuff as quickly. My own head to head test had RO lasting 47% longer than than KBB.

It was the water that brought down your temp, not the charcoal. I've dry smoked with my WSM with temps in the high 20s to low 30s and had no problem keeping temps up.

Water temp will not increase above 212F at atmospheric pressure. Water absorbs a LOT of heat energy that could be heating your chamber, that's why it is called a "heat sink." Water expands in volume 1700 times when it flashes to 212F steam. That 212F steam condenses when it touches any thing colder. It all acts in a way to keep your chamber temps down.

If you are trying to run at 300F and put water in your smoker, it's like putting a standard carbureator on a 300 mph dragster. No matter what you do, it won't perform as you want.

The majority of experienced WSM owners have tossed their WSM instructions and dry smoke. If you do decide to give dry smoking a try, don't use RO like KBB. Use fewer hot briquettes to add to your cold pile for low n slow cooks. For hot n fast, add the same amount.

Let us know how that 5 lb'er turned out!
So once the water level dropped to just shy of 1/4 full temps raised up to 266 and stayed there for the last hour. Pork got to 160 and bark was at the color I prefer so I wrapped it. I have a smaller smoker i built that i have a covered water bowl but filled with sand and covered with aluminum foil so the sand doesn't get nasty. That one burns pretty much at whatever temp I want and at 250 the charcoal lasts twice as long as my wsm. For chicken and pork butts I usually use that one.

Now for briskets I use 225 to 250 as i don't want to get any burnt edges or dry out the brisket. It's worked well for me.
 

Dunstablegrizzly

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That’s interesting that you feel the Embers brand is underperforming. My experience is the exact opposite with kingsford being the underperformer. Hang in there and the end results will be worth your efforts.
G
Ok I have to give it to Embers. After some time the charcoal is performing great. It's been consistent for quite some time as my response to noboundaries
 

noboundaries

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Just FYI: Embers is the Home Depot store brand of Royal Oak. Check the bottom of the back of the bag. "Made in USA by Royal Oak Enterprises, LLC," or something similar.
 

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