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Pork Shoulder on the WSM, both racks

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    Pork Shoulder on the WSM, both racks

    Hey guys, long time lurker of the site here and I've finally decided to join. I'm new to smoking meats in general (just bought a WSM 18.5") and this site has been one of my most frequented sites.

    Regarding smoking pork shoulders on the WSM...

    1. In regards to testing when it's done, I've heard a lot about the phrase "it's done when it's done". This was in reference to once internal temps hit around 200-203deg F, that that's usually the optimal time to pull it off before letting it rest. I understand cooking times will always be variable for a variety of factors, but once this temperature is achieved, it's ready. Is this correct?

    - I've tried to read the article (http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_tech..._than_one.html) to prepare cooking on my WSM 18.5", and I've got a few questions about that as well if you all wouldn't mind answering.

    2. If I plan on cooking two pork butts, say around 5lbs. each, with one on the upper and one on the lower rack (for practice);
    a. Would I still leave my grill probe on the upper rack?
    b. Would I insert the food probe into the shoulder on the lower rack?
    c. Would I leave them in there for x amount of time, then swap them half way through to ensure even cooking? How do I ensure even cooking?

    Most of my confusion stems from how to manage cooking with both racks being utilized. Any help / clarification would be GREATLY appreciated. Maybe I just need to re-read a few articles / books again.

    And as always, thank you all for such a great site / resource. I'm hoping to become a regular on here.

    #2
    Welcome to The Pit porkmaster!

    Let's see if I can help answer your questions:

    1) Not necessarily. Pork butts being "done" is a matter of time & temp. Not just temp. Usually once they reach the 200-205 range they need to sit there and bask in that heat for an hour or three. That's when the tough fats an collagen inside will render out and soften and make it the delicious treat we expect with pulled pork. If you pull the meat off once it hits that temp, it may or may not be ready. It may be sliceable but not pullable. If it takes a long time to get to that temp, then it may be ready once it gets there. Readiness is a factor of the time & temp combined that makes the magic happen.

    2) I would: a) buy a second thermometer if you're planning to regularly do a couple pieces of meat so trading probes isn't mandated, and/or b) place both hunks of meat on the same grate, a few inches apart. Then stick the grate probe between the two (2-3" from each piece of meat) and one probe in one hunk of meat.

    There's only a need to utilize both racks if the meat can't fit on one. I would think you could get two 5lb pieces on one. If I am wrong then drape the grate probe midway between the two grates to find a general average, and use an instant read to spot-check the second butt.

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    Hope to hear & see more from you!

    Comment


    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Huskee, I'll be sure to fill that out.

      Would an hour per lb of meat @ 275deg F be a fair rule of thumb? If you don't mind sharing, what's the general consensus on these types of things?

      @ 275deg F?
      @ 225deg F?

      EDIT:

      I'm asking this because several sources I've read, I think even an article on here, has stated that the internal temp (where applicable) reaching a key point is vital to judging when the meat is done or not. However, I also understand what you're saying about maintaining that internal temp for x amount of time to let it break down the collagen. Maybe this is something I have to figure out via trial and error / experience.

      Thanks again Huskee.


      EDIT 2:

      I've also read that utilizing the water pan is the best way for maintaining temperatures inside a WSM? I originally planned on doing a pork shoulder for 12 hours @ 225, but I still need more advice/experience on how to maintain those temperatures without having to supervise it every 30 minutes (unless this is normal).
      Last edited by porkmaster; November 3, 2015, 04:07 AM.

    #3
    PM it is normal to need to monitor temps ever 30 min or so until you have a good working knowlege of how your WSM reacts to enveronmental chances. Wind, sun, rain, so on. After the first few hour they tend to get pretty stable and can be left alone for longer periods.

    I tend to be a 225° guy because that just where my Webers like to be. As for time. I dont wrap at all so I allow 3 hours per pound. Yep 3 hrs a pound as a min.

    You bottom rack of the WSM will be much cooler than the top for the first few hours at least. Maybe as much as 30°. They will at somepoint find equalibrium.

    I do use both racks for butts as the same time without much differnce in the finish time. I would perfer to put both on the top rack. It just makes life easier. Some times this just doesen work. If it doent fit you must split. (sorry bad OJ based pun)

    Are you going to wrap these butts. porkmaster ,


    Last edited by Jon Solberg; November 3, 2015, 07:42 AM.

    Comment


    • Jon Solberg
      Jon Solberg commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh most important WELCOME!

    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      Jon Solberg Thanks for the advice, and thank you for the welcome! It's great to know that 30 minutes is roughly a good time until I at least learn things better. At least I'm at that "stage" now.

      The picture that you posted looks great. 3 hours per pound sounds like something I may try or refer to as a baseline standard @ 225deg F when unwrapped. I'm leaning towards wrapping them though.

    #4
    The unwrapped butts I've done have taken about 16, 17 hrs...and they were small ~4lbers. I prefer to wrap after or nearly after the stall, about 180 and sometimes 190 if I feel like barking them up even more. I do so because I still get plenty of bark by waiting until after the stall plus the foil collects a lot of the au jus to add back to the finished product, plus it saves time and fuel. I do not own any automated equipment and I have zero interest in stoking my stickburner or even my kettle for 16 hrs ever again I'll usually cook around 240 give or take, then when the stall happens I let 'er go up to 250-275, or thereabouts. I don't really have a dead set plan on temps, because I don't personally feel you need to have a dead set plan on temps, that's what stresses a pitmaster out during a cook. I would say 215-250 is good. If you're the type that wants to hit a temp goal and maintain it, my way might be difficult to swallow, lol. And I agree with Jon, that every 30 mins is a safe estimate on checking your cooker temps & adjusting as needed. Your water pan will def help you stabilize lower cooking temps. Water doesn't get over 212F so it helps cool the air inside and adds humidity which helps the smoke adhere. And obviously in time you'll learn what to expect and it'll be as easy as microwaving popcorn. Well maybe not, but close.

    Comment


    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      Two different, those are when I did unwrapped the whole way. I much prefer to wrap after the stall now.

    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      Huskee Understood. Thanks again!

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      porkmaster Sorry I didn't answer your other question- yes I always use water. I don't run a wsm, but I'll either use my kettle with Slow 'N Sear or my Yoder offset, and with that I'll put a loaf pan of water under the grate.

    #5
    porkmaster, Welcome to the Pit! You are getting good advice, so I won't bore you with the time I smoked 6 Butts with out the benefit of a single working thermometer👎 These days I use a Maverick 733 dual probe and a Thermapen, I actually believe I need a 3rd. to do a proper job of monitoring the progress in the Smoker or Grill! 👍👍👍👍👍. Dan

    Comment


    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you Danjohnston949! I sure am. I'm panicking with a digital thermometer, and you did 6 without one. I can't say I could do the same, at least, not yet.

    #6
    Welcome! I haven't messed with the 18.5 but here is what I do on the 22 WSM. First, doneness is really more about tenderness than temp, it just so happens that 200-203 is usually the temp where that tenderness happens. I have taken some up a little higher, and my best was actually done at 197.
    While I have 4 probes, I only ever use 2 no matter how many butts i'm doing (I will use more if I have different proteins) I use one to monitor pit temps just below the top grate. I aim for 275-300 because that is what I like. The other probe goes in the smallest butt up top, here is my reasoning.
    The smallest butt should obviously finish the fastest, this isn't always the case but I start checking all of them when I get around 190, it isn't going to cook so slow to mess everything up. All of the smallest butts go up top, higher up in the dome equal higher temps so they should be done faster plus, and this is from experience, it is a royal pain in the butt to need to remove a rack with 20 pounds of butts out of the way to get to a little 6 pounder on the bottom and put it all back. The ones you expect to be done first go on top.
    Now the second trick you will have to test on your 18 but it works on my 22, see in the pic how the door opens and exposes a few inches of the bottom rack? I situate the smallest of the bottom rack butts at about 5 and 7 o clock so I can probe each of them from the door, at that point the only unknown are the butts furthest away but those are the largest. Once my top butts are done I take them off and take the grate off with it, so I have unrestricted access to probing and removing the final butt.
    If I take off the butt with the probe I just put it into the next one I expect to be done.

    Click image for larger version

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    Comment


    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      That's great advice _John_, thanks. That all makes good sense.

      I have two questions though, if you wouldn't mind me asking.
      1. When you reach your "ideal" internal temp, how much longer do you keep it inside?
      2. If you do keep it inside, at what temp. range do you keep your smoker?

    • _John_
      _John_ commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't, I set it out for about 5 minutes to finish cooking, wrap it in foil, then a towel and put it in a cooler until i'm ready to pull it. I aim for at least an hour.

    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      _John_ gotcha, thanks!

    #7
    Welcome to the Pit!

    Comment


    #8
    Howdy, porkmaster. You'll find the WSM easy to control after having done several smokes on it. At least that's how it's worked for me.

    Comment


    • porkmaster
      porkmaster commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks gwschenk! I'm hoping to get there soon with enough practice.

    #9
    Fat cap up or bottom when smoking ?

    Comment


    • Jon Solberg
      Jon Solberg commented
      Editing a comment
      I take as much off as I can. Hopefully there is none.

    #10
    I just smoked my first 2 butts on my 22" last weekend, both were 10lbs each. I ended up pulling the top one off at 197º (15 hours at 250) and the lower one was at 185º so I moved it to the top and left it while serving the first one. When the meat tray was empty I went back and pulled the second one out, it was at 202º and both were fantastic. Next time I am only doing 2, I would probably put both on the top tray, it has plenty of room.

    Comment

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