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Pulled pork on the M1

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    Pulled pork on the M1

    Pre-Fourth of July BBQ, figured I'd try pork shoulder. Had a couple issues but the food was a smash hit. I once again forgot to snap a pick of the finished product but trust me, it came out great. First up, let me talk about the issues.

    1 - I got a 30 lb box of pecan splits from Carolina Cookwood. These were consistent in length but all over the place on thickness/circumference, which made it really hard to get a consistent temp going. Also these splits burned fast and very hot compared to the peach wood splits I got from Fruitawood. I'm guessing the pecan splits were drier which caused them to burn quick and hot. The cook lasted about 10 hours overall and I used the entire box, so about 3 lbs/hr compared to 1-1.5 lbs/hr when I made ribs with the Fruitawood splits.

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    2 - As to the temps. It took a good hour to get the grate up to 250-260. It does seems that the cook chamber takes a while to get up to temp but once there it will maintain the heat pretty well. The problem was I'd add a split and the temp would spike up to 275 or 285 or even 300 or more depending on the size of the split. Closing off the chimney does cause the temp to drop quickly but then as the split burns down the temp starts to drop further and I had to open up the chimney to keep the temp over 250, then add another split as the log burned down and repeat the process. This made for a frustrating experience and required constant attention. I basically was adjusting something every 10-15 minutes or so.

    3 - There's a hot spot on the grill on the right side, which is where the opening from the lower firebox is located. I initially had placed my pork shoulder on the right side of the grill. After about three hours I took a peak under the hood and discovered the right side of the pork was black and looked like it was burning. I re-located the pork to the center of the grill and completed the cook without any issues.

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    Now the good part. It was easy to get the fire lit and keep it going. I started with nearly a full chimney of briquettes, dumped them into the lower firebox when fully ashed over then started adding splits.

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    I started at 5 a.m. and by 6 the grill was ready for me to add the meat. I had a package of boneless pork shoulder from Costco that I coated in a paste made of olive oil, garlic, whole limes and a whole orange along with some spices, all pureed in a food processor.

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    Then it was just set it on the grill until it hit an internal temp of 203-205, shred and serve with a mojo sauce made of olive oil, garlic, cilantro, lime and orange juices and zest and some salt and pepper. My guests loved it and the pork disappeared. One issue I did encounter was that there was a section of the pork that was "stuck" around 185-190 and would not really shred or pull apart. I've had this happen once or twice before and it's very weird. It's not the dead-center of the cut, it was a piece toward the bottom center. Anyway, I just set that aside and I'll slice it for sandwiches later.

    I also decided to monitor temps on the lower (charcoal) grate. I put one air probe on the top right of the cooking grate and another in the middle of the lower grate. Got some interesting results. With the lower grate in the lowest position the temp ran about 40 degrees cooler than the top grate (probe 1 is top grate, probe 4 is lower grate, probe 2 is meat).

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    But when I raised the lower grate up to where it was about two inches below the top grate, the lower grate actually was 30 degrees hotter than the top grate!

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    Not what I would expect. It could be that the lower probe was too close to the cooking meat and was catching some radiant heat from the upper grate? I'll have to repeat this test with an empty cook chamber.

    Overall, despite the frustrations with the wood and temperature, it was a successful cook. Pork shoulder is a very forgiving cut, the day turned out ok despite initial forecasts of a rain-soaked day and I was able to hang out with my guests while tending the fire. The fact that everyone gobbled up that shredded pork and couldn't stop telling me how good it was was the icing on the cake. If you're interested, here's the recipe I used:

    Happy Fourth everyone!

    Looks like a delicious cook. Nice job!



      Sounds mighty tasty to me.


        whoa! looks great!


          Couple tips -
          1. Agree on the hot spot - it can be used as an advantage for a quick sear, but it definitely exists especially on hotter cooks

          2. Try loading a very full chimney load of charcoal to get the grill to temp, then launch the splits. The splits catch fire quick and the grill comes to temp faster.

          3. When temp spikes you can typically control it with the damper at the top. This is counter intuitive but keeping the fire door wide open is my favorite way to keep it burning clean and keep temp down.

          4. On the wood, I just got a 1/3 cord of oak delivered and use an Axe/Maul to cut to size. It’s cheaper this way and more controllable. A medium split lasts me 45-60 mins in the summer, little less is winter

          overall Good cook! Hope that helps!


          • smarks112
            smarks112 commented
            Editing a comment
            The actual door. I have found that a wide open door helps the fire burn hot and also let’s more heat escape. The closed door actually drives more heat to the upper portion of the grill. You can get similar temp control with the door closed and the firebox vents halfway closed though.

          • smarks112
            smarks112 commented
            Editing a comment
            The damper was in reference to the above chimney though. I find that to be extremely responsive to temp.

          • Tuckmonster
            Tuckmonster commented
            Editing a comment
            Good tips. I think next time I'll light the chimney on the lower charcoal grate and close the lid while the briquettes get ready. That should help warm up the cook chamber faster.

            I do plan on getting wood from.a local vendor and splitting it myself. There's a local firewood seller who can sell me oak or cherry wood in 16" splits. I had tried a couple of the online vendors before I found these guys.

            I also found the temperature to be very responsive to minor adjustments on the chimney damper.

          Thanks. I find all of your comments very helpful. I’m getting the M36. After years working with a weber kettle, there is much to learn.

          Enjoy the 4th!



            You did very well with this cook on a newer cooker. Despite how much you read or watch you need to experience it so you know for next time. Well done with this cook and it is in writing here on AR!



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