smoker newbie doing my first pork butt

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I've been inspired by the pork challenge and Pork butt is on the menu tomorrow and I'm nervous for a few reasons

A) its the first time I've used the new bbq

B) Never smoked before 

C) Dont have a thermometer for the bbq

D) conflicting advice as to how much wood to use and how long to soak it.

E)      "           "           "what stage to get the coals to before adding the wood and the meat

F) only wood i could get was Jack Daniels and I've heard its not that great. I have apple trees, but im sure the wood wouldnt be any good till it had dried out

I know... Roast it instead!...I wanna smoke though!

Its a 4lb boneless joint. I've left a thin layer of fat and made my dry rub, so I'm raring to go...I've read past posts, but I need advice for all the above please

Thank you in anticipation

Bug
 
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Yes, you are going to get conflicting advice.  Ask 10 different pitmasters how to do it, you'll get 10 different answers.  Give them a couple more beers, and you'll get another 10 different answers ;-)

Your first time with new techniques and new equipment?  I'm guessing your results will be somewhere in the range of incredible to inedible.  I'll also bet you might make some mistakes you won't make next time.

You don't want too much wood.  I'm assuming you have a charcoal fire and are putting wood chips on the coals.  The charcoal should be well along, glowing dull red with a light coat of ash.  You want to generate a barely visible plume of smoke.  There may be an initial burst of it when you throw on the wood chunks but you don't want a heavy smoke for a long time.  It all depends on what sort of smoker you have as to what works best.  Can you describe it in a bit more detail?

mjb.
 
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The freshly cut apple will smoke nicely if you use a drier wood with it - like a little of your JD.  Chop it enough to expose the sap and heart wood and not rely on bark to get it going. 

Temper the meat before putting it on the grill.  Bank your coals to one side and put a drip pan under the grill on the cool side where the butt will go. 

Cook it indirectly and generate some smoke for the first hour to develop "the ring".  After that it's a slow roast  over coals and don't forget to baste it on occasion.  Some of the pan drippin's mixed with apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and little sriracha and you're good to go.  Near the end of cooking time you can increase heat to the surface area for a nice char and the inside should be tender.  You're going to have to stick it here and there and watch the fluid - when it runs clear your roast is done. 

Buy a thermometer - they don't cost that much.  Good luck - you can do it!!!
 
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Choice of meat:
Pork Shoulder – Boston Butt for my pulled pork, ranging from 5 to 9 pounds.

Preparation:
~12 hours before the meat goes in the smoker, apply a coating of your rub of choice, and wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Smoking:
Preheat smoker to about 225-240 degrees F. place the meat in the smoker, fat side down. I don't flip butts as it interferes with bark formation. Fat side down helps protect the meat if you have a temp spike. After about an hour in the smoker, stick in the probe of your digital thermometer (A highly recommended accessory.) After the meat gets over 100F I spray it every hour with a 3 to 1 mix of apple juice and Captain Morgan’s Original spiced rum. I have used bourbon instead of rum, but my family prefers the taste of the rum spray. The sugars in the juice and booze will caramelize, and add to the bark. (Bark - dark outer crust that develop as the meat cooks.) Others will make good suggestions for alternate sprays. You will develop your own favorite with a little experimentation. (The nice thing is that they all taste good!)

Foiling:
When the meat gets to about 165F, double wrap it in Heavy Duty aluminum foil. Put some of your spray of choice in the foil to help braise the meat. At this point I usually stop making smoke unless there are other things in the smoker that need the smoke. (You can finish cooking from this point on in the oven set at 250F if the weather changes or you want to save smoker fuel.) Continue to cook until the internal meat temps gets to 195-205F. Remove the foiled meat from the cooker and wrap it (still foiled) in a couple old bath towels and put it in an insulated cooler to rest for at least an hour before you pull it.

The Plateau:
Almost all butts (and briskets – but that’s in the beef forum) will hit a plateau where the temps of the meat stops rising. Don’t be tempted to raise the heat as that will dry out the meat. The meat is absorbing a lot of heat at this point while the connective tissue is breaking down. This is what makes the meat tender. Low and slow is the way to go! I’ve seen some actually drop in temp by a couple degrees. Patience – it may be over an hour before the temp starts climbing.

Pulling:
There are several choices here, some folks use two forks, there is a tool called bear claws, Dutch puts hunks of it in his Mixmaster with the dough blade to pull. I use my hands. I un-foil the meat, the bone usually falls out on it’s own, and I break it apart in to big pieces that I let cool for a few minutes. I then go through each piece and pull out the extra gunk (technical term for fat and connective tissue) and shred by hand.


Time of smoke:
The general rule of thumb is that it will take about 1.5 hours of cooking at 225-240F per pound. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline as each piece of meat is different. Go by temp not time to know when it's done. Someone here said, "The meat will be done in it's own good time." I once had two 8 pound butts finish an hour apart in time. Give yourself extra time, you can always keep it wrapped in the cooler a little bit longer before you have to serve. It's hard to rush a piece of meat if it does not want to be rushed.
 
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Thank you both for your replies. So far so good...I think.. 4 hours in and I think 4 more to go... Maybe less..
Mjb I'm having trouble posting pics from my iPad. It just keeps embedding them whatever that means.. I'll add them when I'm at the computer..

Mike, I'm following ur instructions re the apple sticks and it does smell good. Burning slowly. Found my old digital thermometer I had for the business.. Changed the batteries, but the grill was never getting anywhere near 225 then I realised that's farenhieght and my gadget was set on Celsius thankfully there's a wee switch inside to change readings.. Getting worried there for a while...what a numpty.
 
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Thanks hokie,
I was tempted to leave the rub on overnight, but I thought the salt would leech the juices out. Thanks also for confirming the scarybit you called the plateau.. I had read its all to easy to screw up all your good work by panicking at this stage and pump up the heat. I'll be ready...

I decided that the butt is not to be relied on for dinner...we have guests, so it's now the hopeful main event, with a host of lesser players I ll take pics and post em on the dinner thread later
Great advice
Cheers. Bug
 
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Just been told the shoots oi cut from the apple tree arnt actually part of the tree so I've no idea now what wood I put on the grill!!!!
 
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Well.. I'm not sure why a recommendation to put green wood for smoke was made really, I just don't think that as a first time out you should be looking at nuances like what flavor of smoke you are using. With the JD chips you are smoking with oak. Yes, people say orchard and citrus woods have a perfume that is translated into the meat but I've never done a side by side and frankly I think that is 99% bs. The rub more than anything is going to determine the initial punch of flavor assuming that you do get smoke going and like teamfat said not so much that you are creating a chimney. You want smoke, not soot. You do need to know the temp inside, hopefully you got that figured out, and hopefully you didn't smoke with branches of poisoned stink weed! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
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Smoking with a pit like yours is more about fire management than anything else.  Your next steps are to purchase (a) a book which has a LOT of information about smoking in a Weber Kettler (Steve Raichlen is very good with WKs), and (b) some thermometers (or a combination thermometer) for reading pit temp and meat internal. 

Otherwise, it's too late for me to give meaningful advice about this cook, so we'll talk sometime next week if you still want. 

Happy smoking!

BDL
 
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Well.. I'm not sure why a recommendation to put green wood for smoke was made really, I just don't think that as a first time out you should be looking at nuances like what flavor of smoke you are using. With the JD chips you are smoking with oak. Yes, people say orchard and citrus woods have a perfume that is translated into the meat but I've never done a side by side and frankly I think that is 99% bs. The rub more than anything is going to determine the initial punch of flavor assuming that you do get smoke going and like teamfat said not so much that you are creating a chimney. You want smoke, not soot. You do need to know the temp inside, hopefully you got that figured out, and hopefully you didn't smoke with branches of poisoned stink weed! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
I hear what you're saying, but folk are trying to help me and reacting to my own desire to be adventurous. I agree of course that method and the rub is everything and I'm keeping a tight rein on both... As a newbie, It's been a great experience for me and my guests. Doing things as to instructions

thanks

Bug

Ps we don't get poisoned stinkweed in Scotland

PPs my rub recipe ( well its not mine, but i cant remember which site i found it...Anyway its fabulous

1/2cup paprika

1/4cupbrown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

2tbsps onion powder

2 tbspns salt

1 tbspn pepper

1 tbspn chilli powder

1 tbspn dried oregano
 
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Just a wee way to to go hopefully...It's stayed here for the last 1 1/2 hours and im soooooo tempted to pump up the heat, but the coals are fine so gonna sit on my hands for a while
 
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The bone's wiggling, but it won't come out... The bark is a bit squidgey and not as i would like it, but the smoke is absolutely gorgeous..........Everything i would want. The meat rested for an hour and we were all itching to get into it. You can see where a couple attempted a gouge.

Many thanks to all who helped me today...
 
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Just a wee way to to go hopefully...It's stayed here for the last 1 1/2 hours and im soooooo tempted to pump up the heat, but the coals are fine so gonna sit on my hands for a while
That is the plateau as Hokiegirl mentioned.  This is the time when *the magic* happens.  The internal temp may go up a degree or two, it may go down, but patience is certainly rewarded at this stage.

mjb.
 
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As you have probably found out by now, the bone is oddly shaped so it doesn't quite slide right out.

I'm hungry.

mjb.
your right, but it wants to and the muscles are separated  I guess i did it right 

Thank you so much for making todays big thing for me a grand experience

Bug x
 
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Well.. I'm not sure why a recommendation to put green wood for smoke was made really, I just don't think that as a first time out you should be looking at nuances like what flavor of smoke you are using. With the JD chips you are smoking with oak. Yes, people say orchard and citrus woods have a perfume that is translated into the meat but I've never done a side by side and frankly I think that is 99% bs. The rub more than anything is going to determine the initial punch of flavor assuming that you do get smoke going and like teamfat said not so much that you are creating a chimney. You want smoke, not soot. You do need to know the temp inside, hopefully you got that figured out, and hopefully you didn't smoke with branches of poisoned stink weed! :D

Fruit and nut woods are the way to go, along with oak. For my taste buds, meats smoked with pecan tastes differently from those smoked with hickory.

And I agree with not using green wood. Branches are more like it, thoroughly dried.
 
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