• Enter our Anniversary Prize Drawing for a chance to win a 70th Anniversary Weber Limited-Edition Kettle Grill! Click here to enter!

First pork shoulder attempt. What's the best temp to cook at?


 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
I have a few sessions in with my new (used) 14" WSM after a little over a year cooking on a brinkmann smoker. I have used the the water pan both with and without water. I have been able to dial the temps in at 250 with water for ribs and at 275 without water for chicken. Up next is a 10 lb pork shoulder I have waiting for me.
On the Brinkmann last summer when doing my first pork shoulder I struggled to keep the temps down and cooked at 285 to 300 most the day. Then into the fall and winter I struggled to keep it above 220. The last pork shoulder five weeks ago was the final straw fighting temps feeding it fuel. Now I have my WSM.
My question is what temp do you think it is best to keep the smoker at for a pork shoulder? My later attempts at lower temps but longer time were much better in my experience than my first hotter and faster cook. My first attempt the meat was much tougher. However the more I read the more I see most people keep temps at 275 for pork shoulder. Now I am wondering if it was not the temp I cooked the first one at and another factor tided to a first attempt. Have you guys found much difference in the quality of the meat at 225 vs 275?
I am trying to make a plan for my fuel and times on the cook to go overnight with it. I got 5 to 6 hours at 250 out of an full basket of Kingsford Blue using the minion method with 12 fully lit briquettes to start and water in the watepan. I am really debating between going waterpan waterless to get a little more life out of the fuel but expect to run a little hotter if I do OR going waterpan with water lower and slower but knowing I am going to have to work on a refuel and sleep plan.
Any thoughts?
 

PHolder

TVWBB Fan
Shoulders are very forgiving. I used to cook them on my Weber Kettle and they were done in about 6-8 hours. I have no idea what the temp was. Just used their indirect formula. Always good.
I now have my WSM and usually cook them at 230-245, depending on the mood of the smoker, for about 12-14 hours. Much better.
I don't think you can go wrong with either hot and fast or low and slow. Just pull it off when its probe tender, when you can put your thermometer probe into the meat with no resistance. Then she's done.
 

Rich G

TVWBB Platinum Member
Michael, you will find a wide range of temps that people like to use for shoulders, so you can pretty much do what you want. I'd keep it somewhere between 225 and 275, but wouldn't stress out about it too much. As far as stretching your fuel on the 14" for an overnight, if you go without water in the pan, I highly recommend that you use some sort of heat sink as it will make the temps a bit more stable. Some sand in the water pan (tightly foiled so you don't soil the sand with grease, then drop an an aluminum drip pan above that.) There's no reason that a waterless WSM can't run whatever temp you want it to, you just need to be even more attentive to tuning the vents while the temp is on the way up. Start closing them down sooner as your temp comes up. It will be easier to over shoot with no water, and harder/impossible to bring it down.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

R
 

BobJ

TVWBB Super Fan
I shoot for 225 in my 14 and have yet to make it through the night without feeding it more charcoal, I get up every few hours to check the temp anyway so adding coal isn't a big deal. That might be because I start it around 8pm and I get around 8 or 9 hours from a load of charcoal @ 225ish depending of course on ambient temp. The 8 lb bone in butts I've done have been taking right around 19 hours to complete so I figure 2.5 hrs per lb. No water in the pan although it does stay at temp better with water. I've only been at this a year so take it for what it's worth.
 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
I shoot for 225 in my 14 and have yet to make it through the night without feeding it more charcoal, I get up every few hours to check the temp anyway so adding coal isn't a big deal. That might be because I start it around 8pm and I get around 8 or 9 hours from a load of charcoal @ 225ish depending of course on ambient temp. The 8 lb bone in butts I've done have been taking right around 19 hours to complete so I figure 2.5 hrs per lb. No water in the pan although it does stay at temp better with water. I've only been at this a year so take it for what it's worth.
19 hours has been right around what the last few pork shoulders have taken me at 225ish so hearing that is on par with yours makes me a little more comfortable.
Quick clarification question, so are getting 9 hours out of a basket of fuel with or without water in the pan?
Another question do yo just add a few unlit briquettes every few hours?
Thanks for the input!
 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
Thanks guys, I really think I am going to aim for lower temps, but not get too worried about spikes in temps or if the cooker settles in at a little higher temp. I am thinking about doing this for a early Dinner on Easter. I am thinking to start on Saturday at 6 pm and shoot to be done somewhere late morning/early afternoon and let is rest wrapped in a cooler until we are ready to serve. I am leaning towards water in the pan but still debating.
 

BobJ

TVWBB Super Fan
Quick clarification question, so are getting 9 hours out of a basket of fuel with or without water in the pan?
Another question do yo just add a few unlit briquettes every few hours?
Thanks for the input!
19 ish hours is no water, haven't used water in a while so can't comment on it's charcoal use. I add coals when the basket level drops a decent amount, maybe to half, 20 or more coals I'd guess at.
 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
19 ish hours is no water, haven't used water in a while so can't comment on it's charcoal use. I add coals when the basket level drops a decent amount, maybe to half, 20 or more coals I'd guess at.
Chris,
Ok, I have been look at some of your other post about the 14 and charcoal uses and all have been helpful so thanks.
 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
So, almost all my cooks on my Brinkman were pork butts. I literally got my WSM primarily to do pork butts. But then somehow I keep cooking other stuff, whole chickens, ribs, then a London Broil, then lots of chicken a lot of different ways, Boneless Skinless Turkey Breast, and more ribs. My 14.5 WSM is just so easy to use I keep doing the quicker cooks. Now the weather is perfect for my first overnighter. I got Weber charcoal for this cook and my new thermpro dual thermometer arrived today. I left out the heat deflector for just that extra room for ash, and I went with water in the water. Shooting for 250 but not going to stress to much. Lit the chimney at 8 pm and set my weber up with three pieces of Hickory mixed in with the rest of the charcoal and by 8:50 pm the pit was sitting right out 250 and the smoke thinned out and I placed the butt on the pit. By 11 pm the Temps got back to 250 and at midnight I had a spike in temps to 310. I realized that the water needed refilled. At 1 am as I got ready to go to bed, I added more unlit coals in through the door, temps dropped a little but everything was fine when I turned the light off at 1:30 am and the meat was at 160. At 3:30 am pit was at 272 and meat was at 185. At 5:00 the pit was 285 and the meat is 197. Just checked it with my prob thermometer and I wanted to let it go a touch longer, but it was so close and looks so good. I've got three pieces of foil and a cooler with towels for this butt to go into, but this is supposed to dinner... I pull it off at 5:50 am wrapped it and packed it. Nine hours almost to the minute. Opened up the cooler at 1 pm stick my probe through the foil, it read 141 so I decided to open it up and pull it. Added a little more of the rub and some apple juice and some apple cider vinegar and mixed it up. Made myself a small sandwich while the kids keep picking at it. It is so good. Reheated around 5:30 for dinner. After dinner I went out to clean up the WSM, I still had a good bit of coals, I think I could have made it through without adding the unlit coals before bed.
Next time I will start around 11 pm and I will actually try to keep it a touch lower in Temps and see what that does. Thanks for all the advice. I felt like I did not become neurotic about the Temps and just let it do what it was going to do and keep learning how the WSM wants to run. My overall take away was that it was to easy for a pork butt. I can't wait to do my next one.

Butt waiting for the pit to come to temp.
20200502_195114_HDR.jpg 20200502_201939.jpg

5 am
20200503_051408.jpg

5:50 am
20200503_055258.jpg
1pm
20200503_130825.jpg 20200503_132357.jpg 20200503_132401.jpg
20200503_172153_HDR.jpg
 

Attachments

  • 20200503_132401.jpg
    20200503_132401.jpg
    137.7 KB · Views: 3

GregInTexas

New member
New guy here.

Michael, you nailed it. No better way to remove the guess work on any price of meat than to have internal meat probes.

I just bought a 18" WSM today. Waiting for my Jealous Devil charcoal to arrive to break it in. Having said that I only started to smoke meats about 3 weeks ago on a friend's cheapie offset smoker. Stared out day 1 with a 4 channel probe set. Luckily, every piece of meat I have done so far (3 pork butts) have been fantastic.

Tomorrow is a 15 pound brisket in the Offset again, until my charcoal arrives.

I highly recommend those internal meat probes.


G
 

LarryL

TVWBB Member
. At 1 am as I got ready to go to bed, I added more unlit coals in through the door, temps dropped a little but everything was fine when I turned the light off at 1:30 am and the meat was at 160.

Hi Michael

I’m a total noob. How do you keep the ash from getting on the meat when you add charcoal? I’m going to attempt my first longer smoke and I’m trying to figure out how to add charcoal if I need it.
thanks
larry
 

Michael Richards

TVWBB Gold Member
Hi Michael

I’m a total noob. How do you keep the ash from getting on the meat when you add charcoal? I’m going to attempt my first longer smoke and I’m trying to figure out how to add charcoal if I need it.
thanks
larry
Larry,
My experience has been if I know I am going for a long cook, I add more coals when the fire is still good and hot and I just add them unlit right through the door, and as long has I have a heat shield, I have not had an ash flare up issues. If the fire is starting to struggle I will lit some new coals and either pass those through the door or will do what some call a hot squat. Where I take the lid off set it to the side, then take the middle section off, this is the hot squat, and put it down, but the lid back on and then work with the lower section and the coals. Then I take the lid back off, place the middle section back on and then the lid. Now I have a 14 WSM, I was in the local BBQ store today and seeing the the 22 OMG that thing is sooo big, I think that would be a tougher thing. Interestingly enough our fearless leader Chris just published a video on this topic this week here that is.

 

 

Top