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Thread: Smoking Pork Shoulder Question

  1. #1
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    Smoking Pork Shoulder Question

    Hi Y'all,

    I am planning to do a weekend potluck picknick with a group of friends, 15 families. I will be doing smoked pork shoulders, about 12 lbs each. I have a large ceramic Alton Brown style ceramic terra cotta smoker, which can consistently put out 225 deg of heat at the 18.5" round grates.

    OK, I just want to get a rough idea of time required so I can plan accordingly. BTW, this is my first attempt at pulled pork shoulder at this magnitude. Most places I have searched recommend about 1.5 hours for each pound. So, will I be alloting 36 hours (24 total bls x 1.5), give or take, or 18 hours (12 lb x 1.5) for both shoulders.

    I plan on only "smoking" the meat for only about 6-8 hours with the rest of the time in a low consistent heat.

    Thanks,

    Bao

  2. #2
    Your 1.5 per pound is about right but your butts are a bit large at 12 lbs each. Sounds like you've done this before so I won't get into rubs etc.

    If at all possible put in a lower grill and both at once, smoke for 8 -10 hours and then wrap them individually in foil with a cup or so of apple cider then in the oven until they hit about 190-200. Rest 45 minutes and you should be ready to go.

    Unlike brisket pork butts are almost idiot proof.

    Cole slaw, a good vinegar based mop, buns, beer and a cigar and you're headed toward nirvana!

    No doubt others will have their own opinions, after all we're talking about smoking meat.

  3. #3
    There's no magic calculation as to when a large piece of meat will be done; numbers are just guidelines. However, I'd bet money that it will be closer to 18 than 36.

    However, I would start checking the internal temperature after 10 hours, since cookers generally have spikes and drops in temperature when opening the cooker and depending on the amount of fuel in the cooker. (If you use a remote thermometer, you won't have to check.) Also, the pork will hit a plateau or "stall" around 160. It will take several hours for it to get past this point. Be patient here and just let the heat do its thing, once it gets past 175 or so, the temperature will increase steadily and faster.

    If you're only going to be smoking the meat for 6 to 8 hours, you can also finish them in an oven. (Or just partially cook them in the oven in case you want to get some sleep, and finish them on your cooker. ) Also, if, as you get closer to serving time, and you realize the temperature is not where you want it to be, throwing it in an oven at a higher temperature (and wrapping in foil) will help you increase the temperature faster.

    Alternatively, if you get to your desired temperature faster than expected, take the shoulders out of the cooker, double wrap in foil, put in an insulated cooler and cover and stuff with towels, the pork will stay over 150 for at least 4 hours. And, when you unwrap the pork, drain off the juice into a gravy separator, pour out the juice onto your pulled pork or add to your sauce for extra porky goodness.
    Michael
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    Thanks for the tip. That's what I am planning to do, smoke them for about 8 and wrap and them until the int temp is about 200 in the middle. I am trying to get the largest shoulders I can, so I can feed some people. I will be using an internal temp probe to monitor until they are ready.


    Yep, I'm doing shoulder because it is pretty much idiot proof. I have been doing beef brisket, and although everything came out great, juicy and tender, with no sauce needed, I think that the combination of hickory and mesquite and longer smoking were too strong for the meat. I think I smoked it too much. Anyway, smoked shoulder is much easier.
    Thanks,

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    Anyway, with the brisket, everyone thinks it is great, and no problem, but I am always my worst critic. You know you want to strive for the best.

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    Bao, has all of your experimenting been with the AB terra cotta smoker? I want to try one of these soon. Did you tweak the design at all? TIA,
    __________
    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by chazmtb View Post
    Thanks for the tip. That's what I am planning to do, smoke them for about 8 and wrap and them until the int temp is about 200 in the middle. I am trying to get the largest shoulders I can, so I can feed some people. I will be using an internal temp probe to monitor until they are ready.


    Yep, I'm doing shoulder because it is pretty much idiot proof. I have been doing beef brisket, and although everything came out great, juicy and tender, with no sauce needed, I think that the combination of hickory and mesquite and longer smoking were too strong for the meat. I think I smoked it too much. Anyway, smoked shoulder is much easier.
    Thanks,
    If you're going to wrap, they'll DEFINITELY be cooked closer to 18 hours than 36. I'd say you'll be done somewhere around 12 to 14 hours. I cook 7 - 9 pound Boston Butts (bone-in) at 275 and don't foil until after taken off the heat, and I'm done anywhere between 9 and 12 hours.
    Michael
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  8. #8
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    David,

    I wanted something large, so I got a really large pot, that can fit a standard weber 18.5 grate with handles. I think it is about 22.5" at the opening, so the 18.5 grate sits well below the opening. Most I see are smaller and uses a 14" webber charcoal grate.

    I ordered a shallow bowl that is about 22.5 inches in diameter too with a nice size hole about 1.5 inch diameter at the bottom (top when I invert it as a dome)The smoker is about 24 inches high. The dome sits another 10 inches. I also have the tera cotta panter feets that raises it up and lets the electric cord come out of the bottom.

    Anyway, I used some bricks inside the bottom of the planter to raise the heating element. I used a replacement metal charcoal/wood pan (14 inch or 15 inch) I believe from a brinkman smoker. I use a quarter size aluminum pan, and put some water in it. The pan sits right underneath the 18.5" grate and catch the drippings from the meat too. I also cut out some aluminum tray and cover the electric coil heating element so as only the element is exposed to the dripping, if any that comes down. Pretty much the water pan, or the charcoal/wood pan. The electric element is continuously touching the charcoal/wood pan.

    I drill some small holes, mayby 1/4 inch around the pot just for some small circulation. Actually adding the small holes has raised my temp up. When I did it without holes, the temp was about 25 degrees less.

    For long smokes, I add some hardwood charcoal to the bottom pan along with the soaked smoking woods. It has worked well, since I have tried briskets, chicken, whole pork loins, and smaller boston butts. Most of the time, when I am doing large briskets, it is in the smoker for 6 hours. After that, it is wrapped and put back in the smoker for another few hours, probaby until 160 int. That's when I take it out and put it in the oven. I did not realize about the stalling of the internal temperature until now,, and that's probably why I put it in the oven, as I think the temp in the smoker is not as high to get the internal temperature going.

    Anyway, I think this setup, the temperature remains pretty much consistent. I don't trust the cheap metal smokers, because there is too much heat loss.

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    Michael,

    Thanks for the tip. I may not want to wrap. I wrapped briskets before, just because the fat content is not as much as the shoulder. Since the shoulder has a lot of fat, I want a nice crusty bark, and the meat can handle being exposed. Really this is all depenent on internal temp, I just want to know how long, since I have never done something this large before.

    Bao

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    Thanks for outlining your setup. I like the bigger size you are using vs the much smaller AB used in his shows. I need to start assembling parts to make one of these.
    __________
    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

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