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What I am doing wrong

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    What I am doing wrong

    Ok so I know I am new to charcoal but this is the fourth time using my PBC. I am in the process of cooking a pork shoulder and it was cooking to 160 nicely. I took it off the rebar to wrap it and after that I can't get the temp below 350. At one point the temp went up to 450. The only thing I have done differently was add 2 wood pieces at the beginning. Right now I have everything closed up as much as I can including foil in the rebar holes. Temp is 345 and slowly falling. Why is this so hard for me? I really want the shoulders that you guys all seem to cook so easily. Thanks for your help. Josh

    How long did you have it open? If it is staying that high for a long time with even the holes plugged then I would be testing my thermometer, you shouldn't have enough air to get it that hot unless you got ALL the coals lit at once and left the lid off for an extended period.
    Where are you putting your probe?


      It wasn't off that long I thought. The probe is clipped on the rebar like I normally do. It just seems hard to maintain a steady temp lately. The probe is a maverick probe that I just got a month ago.


        The shoulder is off and resting now.


          Don't attach the probe directly to the rebar. The metal gets much hotter than the surouding air in the chamber. Try to hang the probe over the top of the rebar, with the probe hanging down the other side, touching nothing but air. That's how I do mine and I find that I get pretty reliable readings. Also, consider water testing your probe, even if its new, I've had nothing but problems with Mavericks. (I know Meathead swears by them) Anyway, I hope that helps. #keepcalmsmokeon


            Well I guess I panicked because I just had to taste the shoulder. It's good. It doesn't fall apart like I hope but the bone came right out. I want to be able to cook at 225 some day but I don't know how I could get there and maintain it.


            • Powersmoke_80
              Powersmoke_80 commented
              Editing a comment
              Clark you say it didn't fall apart ,what was the final internal temp of the of your pork shoulder. The meat is at its maximum tenderness and juiciness when it hits 195 to 203°F Per AR" Perfect Pulled Pork Recipe".

            • Clarkgriswald
              Clarkgriswald commented
              Editing a comment
              When I pulled the meat off it was 202.5. Don't get me wrong it was awesome but I would like to see it like "butta"

            225 and the pbc don't really go well together, anything you do will be starving the fire. Glad it tastes good, what temp did you take it off at and how long did it rest?


              The pit temp was 277 when it came off and it keep falling.


                Sorry for freakin out about the temperature. It was just frustrating watching the temp jump 10 degrees constantly. The pork was fantastic. Super moist and flavorful. No hammy taste at all. I used huskee's rub modified a little. I dry brined for 12 hours and let the rub sit for 4 hours.


                • Clarkgriswald
                  Clarkgriswald commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Huskee, your rub will be a main stay in our house! Well after my last shoulder I didn't want it to be hammy so I didn't use salt in your recipe because I didn't know what that would have done with the dry brine salt. So the only salt was from the brine. I didn't oil it or anything before I put the rub on. I made a double batch and used just a little cumin but quadrupled the pepper and cayenne pepper. Next time I will let it sit long but won't it still be cooking all wrapped up?

                • Huskee
                  Huskee commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Wow that's a lot of pepper! I use salt in mine and dry brine with the full rub. I like it better that way since to me it tasted a little more bland & sweet with no salt rub. Anyway, honored you like it!

                • Clarkgriswald
                  Clarkgriswald commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Huskee, so you just use the rub once as the brine?

                Glad it was good, you were probably restricted on time, but I aim for 2 hours in a cooler, really helps that tenderness. And since your other one didn't come out well I can appreciate the anxiety.
                Are you using Kingsford blue? Did the temp fluctuate in the beginning, or was it later in the cook?


                • Clarkgriswald
                  Clarkgriswald commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah it was a time crunch. I started it later than what I wanted too. Kingsford blue a two apple chunks this time. 4 and a half pound shoulder took exactly 5 hours.

                  Temps were great until I took it off to wrap it then it just skyrocketed to 450 before I took it off and it went all the way down to 270 something. I had everything closed ( I don't know how yours is but my bottom vent doesn't totally cover up when closed all the way) including the rebar holes with aluminum foil.

                  In the end it turned out fantastic. Just frustrating/panic mode.

                Don't worry! Relax and have a brew.

                It's my understanding that Noah designed the PBC so that you don't have to worry about monitoring and obsessing over your pit temperatures. Start the fire the way he recommends and keep the air vent at the bottom at the proper setting and it should cook good food for 'ya.

                It's not designed to cook at typical pit temperatures, so don't shoot for 225 or fiddle with the fire. Just aim to cook the way he shows you how on his videos...

                FWIW, I don't use a probe in my PBC.
                Last edited by Beefchop; November 14, 2014, 07:20 PM.


                  I'll echo with Beefchop says. While I often do monitor the temp on my PBC, I don't stress about it. But most importantly, don't worry about 225! It will not settle there. I it the Pit Barrel COOKER, after all, not the Pit Barrel SMOKER. In my experience, which seems consistent with others, you will settle around 270-290 after an initial temp spike higher than that.

                  One reason I often monitor temps is so I can modify, if needed, for larger volume cooks. If I have two full packers, or 8 or so racks or ribs in there, sometimes the temp will drop due to all the moisture, etc. If I see the temp dropping down to around 240 or less, I will crack the lid ever so slightly (and I do mean just the tiniest bit) for a few (i.e. 10-15) minutes or so and help it get back up to 270 or so.

                  I think the PBC works best in the 270-290 temp range--which is where it will be for most of your "normal volume" cooks if you have your initial procedures (lighting and vent setting) right.

                  One of the reason the PBC has been controversial is that it isn't a "225 degree" smoker. This bothers some people. When I first bought mine, I decided I cared more about how the food came out, the ease of use (including faster cooks), and the versatility of the PBC more than being a "purist' who cooks at 225. Don't make it out to be what it isn't. If you must cook at 225, using the PBC to do this is like putting a round peg in a square hole. I guess the question to answer in that case is why you must cook at 225...


                    I now know 225 will be impossible to get but I really want to just have it sit in 270-290 the whole time. I know its going to go up and down I just hope its not 100 degree swings.


                      I had that skyrocket-temp-after-removing-the-lid-followed-by-steadily-creeping-up-temp phenomenon happen to me on my second cook, Clark. Turns out I did not seat the lid tightly when I put it back on the barrel. The lid was on the rim all the way around, just not pressed down tight in one area. The slightly open area was right over the rebar holes so I confused the smoke coming out from under the lid with that coming from the rebar holes. As soon as I tightened that lid, the temperature began to fall and behave.

                      As I mentioned somewhere else, Harry Soo says that a small opening at the exit of the smoker creates a bit of a vacuum inside so more air is drawn in through the intake. That extra oxygen feeds your fire big time.

                      And as Dave Parrish said, the two big (pilot error type of) problems with the PBC is not getting the fire hot enough to start and not seating the lid on tightly. I seem to recall that he whacks the lid's rim with a rubber mallet just to be sure. I don't do that (but it's a great idea), but I do seat it well and then wiggle it a bit clockwise/counterclockwise to make sure the seat is good.

                      And about aiming for 225: I did that with a brisket and swore I'd never do it again. The brisket tasted fine and was soooo juicy (even though starving the fire can result in some bad flavor, says Tuffy Stone) but boyohboy it got stuck in the mother of all stalls. I was trying to take it to 175 before the wrap to get a good bark. That 7 lb flat's cook was over 12 hours. As I said, never again.

                      So as John, Supergas6, and Beefchop have said, don't mess with perfection. My PBC luuuuuves 270 plus/minus 20 degrees with Kingsford Original and when it hits that sweet spot I let it do its thing.

                      I'm so happy for you that your PB turned out yummy with Huskee's help on the rub. Fortunately for us PBCrs we have a very forgiving smoker. It turns out great food like a champ.

                      Last edited by fzxdoc; November 15, 2014, 10:10 AM.


                        As I have learned from the experts here and for my own experience, a shoulder can take the a lot without going south. Last time my cooker had some wild swings from 175 to 310 or so due mainly to operator error and it came out great. Might want to refine your technique with shoulder cut before trying a cut of meat that doesn't take wild temp variations well. At least that is my gameplan. I tried a HOF brisket and it did ok, (the bad beef rub had too much black pepper for me though) but not nearly as well as the pork shoulder. Sounds like yours will be just fine.



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