First low and slow attempt in a Weber 22" kettle


 

Kristof Jozsa

TVWBB Fan
So my phone just rings yesterday with an old friend asking "hey, can you do 225F for 8 hours in your shiny new master touch? I just grabbed a 3.5 pounds boneless chuck roast from my butcher to smoke". With the answer being "huh, never tried it but you bet I'd be interested..".

What I know about this task is that:
- I should attempt the snake method with regulating temp to 220-225F as possible
- I should apply some rub
- I should use a water pan and add some smoking woods
- I should aim for a core temp, not for time and rest it after

But I'm pretty unsure about:
- what the rub should contain (just salt+pepper?) and how much earlier I should apply it?
- how thick the snake should be (I've seen photos and videos with 3, 4, and 5 briquettes "wide" snakes)?
- smoking wood should be apple for example?
- what core temp should I aim for?
- whether I have any chance to succeed with only a handheld temperature meter or I should pick up a Maverick or such before even attempting this
- if chuck roast has any specialties compared to pork butts for example (not that I did this one either, but at least I've read about those)

We plan to do this on Thursday if everything goes well.. Any other hints or suggestions? Thanks!
 

Jules B

TVWBB Member
But I'm pretty unsure about:
- what the rub should contain (just salt+pepper?) and how much earlier I should apply it?
- how thick the snake should be (I've seen photos and videos with 3, 4, and 5 briquettes "wide" snakes)?
- smoking wood should be apple for example?
- what core temp should I aim for?
- whether I have any chance to succeed with only a handheld temperature meter or I should pick up a Maverick or such before even attempting this
- if chuck roast has any specialties compared to pork butts for example (not that I did this one either, but at least I've read about those)

We plan to do this on Thursday if everything goes well.. Any other hints or suggestions? Thanks!

Hi Kristof, hopefully I can help, I've done lots of chuck roast and boneless joints pulled pork on my 22.5 OTG so I think I can give you some pointers and answers some of your questions ==>

But I'm pretty unsure about:
- what the rub should contain (just salt+pepper?) and how much earlier I should apply it? ==> for pork I have my own rub that I make with salt, black pepper, smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton) but Hungarian paprika am sure will be fine too, garlic powder, cumin, a touch of all spice and brown sugar, tastes amazing!

- how thick the snake should be (I've seen photos and videos with 3, 4, and 5 briquettes "wide" snakes)? ==> I usually do mine with a mix of briquettes and lump, but if I go briquettes only I usually do a bottom row of 2 briquettes and a top layer of 1 (sometime 2 rows on top if the briquettes are on the small side)

- smoking wood should be apple for example? ==> Use whatever you have available! :D Pork is usually quite forgiving, I have used Apple wood chips with great success but have run out, at the moment I use hickory and it does give the meat a stronger smoke flavour for sure

- what core temp should I aim for? ==> between 195 and 203F, you need that to completely melt the collagen and connective tissues and have that moist soft texture, if you prefer to slice the cooked pork rather than pull, aim for between 190 to 195F.

- whether I have any chance to succeed with only a handheld temperature meter or I should pick up a Maverick or such before even attempting this
- if chuck roast has any specialties compared to pork butts for example (not that I did this one either, but at least I've read about those) ==> a maverick sure is very convenient but you can do without, just check the temp every time you lift the lid or tend the coal. I have a Maverick ET-732 but also have a Weber instant read thermometer (the small one) and it is very dependable and accurate. What matters in the end is that you reach your target temp in the core of the meat by the end of the cook, a Maverick makes things easier but you can honestly do without.

Hope this helps, others feel free to correct me if I'm talking nonsense.

Jules
 

Kristof Jozsa

TVWBB Fan
I'll just rob my own thread. The chuck roast was cancelled last week, the meat started to smell badly a day before the cook so we had to drop this project.

Today however I kicked off my first attempt with a small pork butt (of about 2.2lbs) and I'm still in the middle of cooking it. I started to build the fire around 9:30am but my snake turned out to be way too thin with the 2 briquettes to the bottom and 1 to the top method. Outside temperature is about 50F/+10C, the kettle kept a constant, stable 150F according to the grill's thermometer and I couldn't get it any higher even 1.5 hours after the start. I decided to pull off the grate and upgrade my snake adding an additional layer of unlid briquettes and it helped, since that I could keep a stable 220-230F (again, according to the built-in thermometer).

The stable temp was reached around noon and now it's 20:30, so it's been cooking for about 8.5 hours now. I just checked it's core temperature with my Thermopen: it's at 145F.. and it was 140F 2 hours ago. I start to give up hope that this thing will ever get ready :)

Is it possible that my measured temps are way too off? Maybe I'm smoking at a much lower temperature than I should be? That could possibly explain if the pork won't get anywhere near ready in ~12 hours.. and whatever state it'll have, I'll have to get it off around midnight to catch some sleep. On the good side, my 2x2 snake seems to work fine and it still has about 30% of it left so I still have some hours left..
 

Kristof Jozsa

TVWBB Fan
Ok, meanwhile I have ran out of time and out of fuel about the same time. I took off the pork from the kettle after 10 hours and 10 minutes of cooking time, it's maximum internal temperature my Thermapen registered was 153F.

Here is a picture of the result:

it was soft, very tasty, smoked but not oversmoked, but definetely not pulled pork.. :)

I think the logical explanation why my pork didn't get anywhere near ready in over 10 hours could be the temperature being way too low. I guess what I measured to be 220F using my grill's thermometer could be probably 20-30F off from the grate temperature.. just a guess though.

Any other ideas ideas, thoughts? Thanks!
 

Jules B

TVWBB Member
Hi Kristof, pork looks good, proper roast but not pulled.

To answer your question about the temp, I think you are right about the temp being too low, as far as I am concerned I usually do my pulled pork at higher temp around 300F and usually give it a few hours foiled toward the end of the cook with a bit of rub, sauce and apple juice or beer to keep the meat moist, then uncoil it for the last hour to let the bark dry a bit, I rest the meat 1/2 hour before pulling and it never fails! give it a try next time if you can.

Jules
 

APMason

TVWBB Member
It does look good, but you definitely didn't hit your target temps. I smoke pork shoulder(and other things but shoulder is my favorite) regularly on my kettle and can tell your for sure, the grate temp vs dome temp can be WAY different. I used to rely on the dome and would hold it at 225-250 for long periods of time but always found that my meat took longer than I estimated. When I got a Maverick I realized that I was cooking at 50-75 degrees below what I thought. The dual probe Maverick has been a huge time saver for me. I no longer have to stop what I'm doing to check temps, I know grate temp, and I can monitor internal temps with ease. Throw in an instant read electronic thermometer (thermowand) and I cook outside (grilling, smoking, dutch oven,) just as much as I do in my kitchen. I teach culinary arts and have a mild obsession with cooking temps, so that may explain my thermometer obsession too. Keep at it and try different arrangements of coal as well. I mostly use the baskets for indirect but have tried the fuse method as well to great success.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
One thing I have learned from this forum is everyone does things differently and that can lead to experimenting with results all over the place.
Before I started reading how "temperature specific" some of the cooks seem to try to be. I had (over forty odd years) a handful of failures. Now that I "see what I did wrong" the failure rate has been higher.
I mean, throw it away bad! I will still read, attempt, have success and failures but, I'm going back to my gut for things I have had triumphant success with.
Not casting any stones but, my original Weber ten page folder cookbook PRINCIPLES have not failed me more than once a decade. I have enjoyed many compliments on basic indirect pulled pork over the years and my last one didn't hit me as well as the previous "off the cuff" one!
Time to make some dinner!
 

Kristof Jozsa

TVWBB Fan
Here is my second take on the subject. Two pork butts (around 4.75 and 0.75 pounds), to feed 9 people, smoked in the 22" kettle with pecan at 220-235F to a target 204F core. The small one reached this temp in 7.5 hours, the bigger one was pulled off at 14 hours with a core of 201F - it was almost midnight then.

Kettle set up around 9am:


The small butt is ready:



The bigger one about 6.5 hours later:

And the end result:

It was well received :) Thanks for all the hints!

ps. I picked up a Maverick meanwhile. Using it now is like flying an airplane vs flying one without any gauges..
 
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Robert McGee

TVWBB Gold Member
I started out using the kettle to smoke (as well as to grill) and did some excellent ribs, pulled pork, etc. However, it is a bit harder to maintain temps than a WSM.

It looks like the O.P. Has made an excellent start and we will certainly look forward to seeing LOTS of his future cooks.

Keep on smokin',
Dale53
 

Wayne Dimirsky

TVWBB Super Fan
They say that the Slow N Sear really helps in cooking low and slow on the Kettle. I have not tried mine out yet so I can't give you any first hand knowledge yet.

Wayne
 

Kristof Jozsa

TVWBB Fan
Thanks Wayne, but even as a beginner I had no trouble keeping a constant 220-230F grate temperature for as long as 14 hours with a single load of Weber briquettes using the snake method, I'm pretty much happy with that for now.
 

CGariepy

TVWBB Fan
Looks great.......wish I was there. I had a friend tell me if I have diff size pieces of meat to cook, if possible, trim them to be the same but they are done at the same time.........of course only if you desire that....

I love using my weber smoker......love the process: thinking about it and planning, prep work, cooking it, and then devouring it.

thanks and keep sharing pics.

chris
 

 

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