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Tips for getting more smokiness into pork shoulder?

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    Tips for getting more smokiness into pork shoulder?

    Hi guys. First time poster here; discovered this excellent site about two months ago and it's been my grilling bible since then. I'm entirely new to grilling, having bought my first one this summer, a natural gas Weber Spirit E310.

    I've tried pork shoulder twice now using Meathead's pulled pork recipe, both times with wood chips, and neither result has, in my opinion, had any noticeable element of smokiness. For me the smokier the better, so this has been disappointing.

    First try: started with a 6.75 lb shoulder (smallest I could find). Water pan under the meat, single leftmost burner on low to maintain 225, with applewood chips in a Charcoal Companion V-shaped smoker box next to it. I put about 4oz of dry chips in every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours and then stopped. 13 hours in, at 10 PM (yeah, I started entirely too late), I was still only at about 170 on the meat and I was aiming for Meathead's recommended 203. As I had a group of friends to feed, I had to crank up the grill to about 290 to push the meat to 193 over the next hour. The meat was fine and everybody enjoyed, but I was frustrated by both the extremely long cook time (I'd been expecting no more than 12 hours) and what seemed to me to be a total lack of smokiness in the flavor.

    Second try: got up at 5:30 AM and had the meat on by 6. Same setup, meat size about 6.8, this time tried hickory chips and I just kept feeding in new chips every 30 minutes for the first 4 hours, then hourly for the next 4. I noticed they seemed to smoke less than the applewood chips. Again it took forever: 14 hours in, I was still around 180. Again cranked up the grill to 290, and got to 194 a while later, for a total cook time of almost 15 hours this time. And again, no smokiness at all.

    So what gives? Is a setup like mine just incapable of infusing much smokiness? Is the low cook temp maybe not burning the wood chips enough? I feel like I only ever see a few little wisps of smoke coming out of the box, as opposed to the steady stream of smoke that I expected to see.

    And why taking so long, any ideas? I realize the recipe says 8-12 hours for 5-6 lbs, but 14-15 hours for 6.7 lbs seems high, no? Especially considering that it would likely have been much longer had I not turned up the grill?
    Last edited by GregP; August 11, 2014, 04:39 PM.

    Are you putting the meat in cold? As in straight out the fridge.

    With pork shoulders, when you have the bark you want, wrap it up and crank the heat to 300+....that will get 'er dun.

    You can also cook at 250-275 initially and it will be fine.


      Both times the meat's only been out of the fridge for about a half hour before I put it on the grill, so it's starting around 50 degrees.

      OK so, next time I'll try starting at a higher temp, and perhaps wrapping it later too. Thanks for the suggestions.

      Any ideas about the smoking?


        Any smoke is good smoke. A light blue smoke is optimal. 2 hours of smoke is plenty for a butt. Seems like you did well with the smoke.

        I actually put my butts and briskets in the freezer while the cooker is heating up. Make sure them babies are good and cold to soak up plenty smoke.

        You can also spritz the meat right when you put it on. Cold Wet Meat = mucho smoke.
        Last edited by Jerod Broussard; August 11, 2014, 06:53 PM.


          I don't anything about Weber gas grills but might it be that, like most grills, there's a lot of leaks and the smoke is not getting to the meat?


            Try using chunks instead of chips and if you like lots of smoke keep feeding chunks in and let it smoke the entire time. If your palate prefers minimal smoke then a couple hrs will do but you sound like me, more smoke the better. Let 'er rip with something more than dainty chips. Chips are good to add a little smoke to a steak while you're grilling it, but not so much for hardcore southern barbecue.


            • boftx
              boftx commented
              Editing a comment
              Gas? Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about BBQ.

            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              Our friend Greg is asking about doing butts on his Weber gasser, we're trying to help him out.

            • boftx
              boftx commented
              Editing a comment
              Well, can't he weld a firebox on the end and convert it into a stick-burner?

            I would keep it smoking till the meat is around 140 internal, or like huskee said keep chunks in there the whole time, being a gas grill its alot more vented than a smoker, I had some dissatisfying smokes on a pellet grill that i bought after using a wsm for a few years.


              I only tried pork butt once on a gasser, I had lots of chips going and was less than impressed at how it turned out. I'm not saying it cannot be done properly, but for my tastes and my skill at a gasser I've come to the conclusion proper barbecue needs a proper smoker. Mine tasted like it was oven baked But I use mostly logs now and that's hard to beat for true smoked meat.


              • D.C. Kelly
                D.C. Kelly commented
                Editing a comment
                That sums it ip


              How did you measure your internal temp? It does sound like a long cook, but I don't know how thick your pork was or how the temp was measured. I know that pork butts are pretty forgiving, I have cranked some up to 350 in a pinch and it turned out OK (you got to be careful to keep it out of the way of fire at that temp and rotate it alot). As for smoke, I don't know of anything to add to what has already been said.



              • FLBuckeye
                FLBuckeye commented
                Editing a comment
                I monitor my butt internal temp with a Maverick ET 733. Matches the digital thermometer when I wrap it. "Better cooking through technology"

              All joking aside, I'd try using mesquite for the wood smoke. It is a very strong smoke component compared to other woods. Hickory would be another choice. Just keep your smoke pouch or whatever you use going the whole time until you wrap it up.

              If that *still* isn't enough, then you really should consider a stick-burner (or just throw the meat on the coals in a Weber.)


                Have you been to Dr. Blonder's website? He has pages upon pages about the smoke ring and smoke flavor, and how to maximize both. A lot of it has been covered in these responses, but you can really get a deep understanding of it here: http://www.genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/sratlas.html.


                  I have a Weber Spirit alongside my Kamado Joe. It's a great grill for the money, but it's no smoker. I think most of the opinions here are spot-on. It's going to be hard to get real smokey BBQ from the Spirit, but if you are willing to experiment I think we can work around that a bit. For your next cook I would suggest trying two or three changes - if I may summarize some of the other posts:

                  1) Try boftx's suggestion of mesquite, it is way stronger smoke
                  2) Try colder wet meat per Jarod's post.

                  I might also humbly suggest using smoked paprika in your rub, should be available at most markets... or on the Interwebs. It isn't imparting genuine wood smoke, but it does give a nice smoky flavor to the rub right out of the gate.

                  Keep us posted!


                    14 hours for a 7 pound shoulder isn't a particularly long time


                    • fredcanfly
                      fredcanfly commented
                      Editing a comment

                      Weight is not a factor when determining cook times. It is thickness that you are looking for. However, I get my pork shoulder from my local butcher. Just to be clear, a real pork shoulder is actually the Boston Butt part and the Picnic Ham, and in my experience are usually between 11 and 16 lbs (although I did see an 18 lb shoulder once - not at my butcher, the local grocery store). I get 2 of them doubled sealed and flash frozen for about $30. Can't beat it. I am thinking for the future, I will be cutting off the picnic ham portion when doing my next cook. Reading lately, seems most people prefer just the Boston Butt for pulled pork (my butcher doesn't sell the BB separately). Plus, it'll give me more bark to mix in with my PP.


                    • _Keith
                      _Keith commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Trevis: that's why it's a "rule of thumb", and not just "a rule". It's done when it's done

                    • _Keith
                      _Keith commented
                      Editing a comment
                      That's a pretty sweet deal for the price.
                      I asked in a thread a while ago about the difference in flavor between butt and picnic shoulder, as it's easier for me to get a good price on picnic, and it seemed to me that the only advantage butt had is less bone and skin weight., although there was a good deal of personal preference involved.

                    Greg, I also have a Weber Gasser (S470) and I am working on getting the smoke flavor more pronounced in my meats. My last smoke was two nine pound boneless pork butts 195*f on one and 204*f on the other. I took 13 hrs without a crutch and they were very moist. The last ribs I did were also excellent and I took them off with the temps at 195*F between the two thickest ribs. I use a 2 zone box like MH suggests but I am going to change it. I will be starting a thread in the Gasser section to address what I am doing.


                      You could also try one of the Amazen supplemental smoke generator products.



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