Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smoker update

So I gave it a proper test today with a 7 pound pork shoulder.  I started using full-sized cordwood that I purchased locally from a nice guy who separated the hickory out from the other hardwoods.

I started with charcoal to get a nice bed of coals right from the beginning, then started throwing on logs.  The firebox works well, choking the fire just enough for a nice long burn and good smoke.

And boy does it smoke!

This is a birthday present from my darling wife.  Not pictured is a remote receiver that I keep in my pocket. The remote has alarms that can be set when the smoker gets too hot or too cold and for when the meat is done.  This thing is a must-have in my opinion for a "primitive" system like mine.

Here are the two probes.  One clips to the grill and the other goes into the meat.  Its nice because you just leave it in the whole time and you don't have to keep poking holes in the meat.

Another addition is my "mop" solution in the spray bottle. Just some cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt. I also keep a pitcher of water to replenish the water pan.

 Conclusions:  After a full 7 hours at 225 the internal temp had reached 165.  I was going for 190, but dinnertime was fast approaching, so I pulled the water from the pan to raise the BBQ temp to 275 for the final hour and managed to get the meat to 170.  I still need to find a happy medium to keep the smokebox at at around 250.  I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but there is a nice thick smoke ring and some beautiful spicy bark.  Most of the fat cap had melted off, leaving some fairly lean cuts which pulled apart  with little trouble.  

By the way, Koestritzer Schwartzbier is the best I've ever tasted.  They call it the black beer with the blonde soul!
Pulled pork sandwiches tonight, and carnitas tomorrow.  Maybe I'll finish it off with some ancho peppers stuffed with pork and rice!


  1. Too much smoke can be a bad thing, in fact you do not want large plumes of thick grey smoke. You want what we call "blue smoke" which is only possible in a strictly oxygen controlled environment. This is a subtle smokey "vapor" that will rise out of your smoker after the intial grey stuff burns off.

    This is easily possible with the UDS. If you want to really get fancy you can control your temperature using a "PID" controller. I use one called the Pitmaster IQ

    Additionally your BBQ can benefit from an extended rest. Generally when doing a shoulder I allow for at least a 12 hour smoking period or longer depending upon the cut. I then double wrap it in foil and wrap it again in towels, at this point I place it into a cooler where it stews in it's own juices.

    It will remain too hot to handle for 4 ot 5 hours. I would say the minimum rest period is 1 hour. So if you had service at 7pm I would count back 16 hours then you have a nice buffer and don't have to rush the meat.

    Another thing to consider is juices. You are going to want to collect all the fat off the BBQ while smoking. When using a mop sauce that will also drip into the pan and the fat in the mop sauce (I prefer to use avocado oil or extra light olive oil as a neutral fat) will take on a nice smokey flavor.

    When you are pulling the pork you can pour all of the collected juices back into the mix making the juiciest and tastiest bbq you have ever had.

    You can also use this juice to make a gravy of sorts. Build up an unseasoned Kansas City style base sauce and add the juices to it. The run off from your rub and the smokiness of the fat will create a fabulous sauce.

    If you want to venture into beef I suggest beef short ribs. You are going to want to braise them (I prefer using beer) after 4 hours. Bring them to 200F internal. To braise them simply wrap them up in some heavy duty foil with beer and some of the collected juices.

    When you cut the fat off the short ribs save the fat. When you braise them put the fat back into the ball so it melts back into the meat during the braising.

    Sincerely yours,

    BBQ Fanatic

    1. Thanks for all the great tips. I generally do smoke under the less-dramatic blue fumes, but I like to take pictures of the billowing white stuff.

      The foil-wrap finish is something I have been doing with all my meats for a while now. Generally a little apple juice and butter with pork for braising, and I foil wrap for anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on what I'm cooking. It comes out great!