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Well I found the max capacity of a 22.5" WSM this weekend.

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    Well I found the max capacity of a 22.5" WSM this weekend.

    This was an exhausting cook, I really hadn't planned on it being this rough. So the team I cook for from time to time made it to the playoffs, I told them if they did I would cook for them. A friend was having some kind of fall festival and needed me to cook pulled pork for about 100. Of course the timing would come together so that they both needed food at the same time so I needed to cook for 150.
    This is Oklahoma so they love smoked bologna so I did 20# of that on my PBC, I kept the temps around 200 so the bottoms didn't burn much. This left 80# of pork butt to the WSM. Part of this needed to be transported and held for 3 hours total so I needed it done as close to the wire as possible so it wasn't holding too long, so I gave myself an extra hour knowing that the mass of cold would slow me down a bit. I wasn't sure how much it would slow me down because wide open this thing will do 500 degrees, so I could always drop temps later if needed.
    Oh, and that night we also hit the first freeze of the year.

    With that much meat packed in so tight this thing operated much differently than normal. First, even with adding more lit coals and running vents wide open I couldn't get the temp above 200 for about 6 hours. Next, the top cooked much slower than the bottom, which is backward from usual, but there was no water in the pan so the fire was running really hot at the bottom trying to heat all of the air up top, the top ran about 20 degrees cooler than the bottom. For those that have seen the WSM inside the water pan covers most of the bottom, there is only about a 1.5" gap all the way around. This gap got so hot during the cook that everything it in burned to a crisp, so when possible, mind the gap, if not you will likely be throwing stuff away.

    The end product was nearly indistinguishable from my normal cooks aside from some crustiness from the gap, but going forward I think 60 pounds is probably the limit for what you should do. To get them all to fit the ones on the bottom were done on their sides.

    I got some end pics of the bologna but they were showing up for the pork as I was pulling it off so I didn't get pics of fully done, though there is one from just after the stall.

    Barely room for beer Click image for larger version

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    Rubbed and ready to go, 80 pounds across 8 butts, just one of them weirdly small.Click image for larger version

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    You can't really see the bottom where they are on their side but you can see how closely these had to be packed in.
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    Just after the stall. As I mentioned the bottom cooked faster so at this point I took the top grate off and put it on the kettle and swapped some of them around, they fit better now with the shrinkage.
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    Little bologna Pac Man ghosts, doesn't look like much but there's 20 pounds there.
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    That's it. Next time I will try to do less and remember to always start earlier than you expect!
    Attached Files

    That's a lot of pig, John. I've never done more than 2 at a time on my Kamado, but I thought I could squeeze 4 in there. Seeing 4 on your 22.5 is making me second guess. Has anyone ever cooked a shoulder on its side? Might have to try it to maximize space if I want to try doing 4.



      Nice cook!
      80 pounds of butt in a WSM - that is impressive.


        jholmgren I cooked the bottom grate on it's side, wouldn't really advise it. They don't want to stand up so to keep them from falling onto each other I separated them all with toothpicks. They also don't hold their shape at all while they cook which causes a couple of problems. They sort of deflate, so instead of a rectangle laying flat and losing fat and fluid and simply becoming a thinner rectangle, when you have it on it's side in melts into something closer to a cylinder. Part of what kept me up was moving things around, the fattest part (and consequently coolest) at the beginning was not the fattest a few hours later so the temps were really uneven. When my probe, which was placed in the thickest spot said 200 I checked around and the majority was 185, and the probed part was no longer the thickest.

        The 4 in the pic were probably 10# a piece when starting, so you may be able to get 4 smaller ones on there, not sure what your grate size is.


          Wowzer, that much butts would be liking cooking 30 briskets, thickness wise.


            Sounds like someone needs to invent the pork butt rack - like a rib rack but larger.


              A smaller grill with 4 bolts, washers and nuts can accomplish the feat.


                Man John, those pork butts looks awesome. I am passing these pictures on to a friend, to show him what that rig is capable of!! What rub did you use?


                • _John_
                  _John_ commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I used the one you gave me for my rub test actually!

                • Spinaker
                  Spinaker commented
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                  Hahaha, YES!!!!! _John_

                John, that's one serious cook! Congrats for overcoming and powering through with a sumptuous repast for all! Those pix are something else. You've got that Q machine loaded down. Kudos to ya!


                • _John_
                  _John_ commented
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