Sunday, April 15, 2012

More pulled pork

I have the privilege to prepare pulled pork for a club event - new member get together. I set aside about half of the pulled pork I smoked a couple days ago for a backup supply and I picked up a 21 lb double pack today. I could be feeding up to 40 people. There will probably be fewer but just in case... This is going to be my first overnight smoke. Serving time is 5:00 PM tomorrow and my plan is to finish this late enough so that I can pull the pork and keep it hot to serve. I'll serve this on rolls with store bought cole slaw and Sweet Baby Ray's sauce as well as home made Big Daddy's Carolina Sauce.

Weather is mild with temps at 55°. Wind is reported at about 10 mph but it feels calm outside. It's not supposed to get much colder through the night.

I used the same wet rub that I used a couple days ago. Why mess with success? It went on the butts about 9:30 PM and I went about choosing smoking woods - hickory, box elder, oak, cherry and apple - and setting and ighting the fire.

Lit coals went on the Minion lay at about 10:20. for charcoal I'm using mostly Stubbs briquettes and the ends of a bag of Mesquite lump (mostly fines.) Fire seems to be getting off to a slow start with temperature holding at 157°. Maybe I need to check the batteries in my remote. Doh! Maybe I need to open the lid vent! I had forgotten to do that when I buttoned up the cooker.

10:20PMpig/grate/lidclosed up cooker with coals starting to light.
10:4542°/197°/?Temp approaching 200° so meat on! closed two bottom vents and left one a little less than half open.
11:5657°/206°/190°I'm still not happy with temps so I stirred the coals a bit. Wind has picked up outside - gusts to 20 mph. And it feels like there is the slightest drizzle.
12:1266°/202°/185°Stirred coals some more and went full open on one bottom vent.
1:46104°/217°/195°Closing the single open bottom vent to about half to see what happens.
2:00108°/209°/195°OK! Opened that bottom vent back up.
7:28157°/202°/190°Stirred coals and added more smoking wood. Seems to be plenty of charcoal.
8:05160°/219°/?°After the previous check I opened a second bottom vent and temp is once again heading where I want it.
8:42162°/225°/210°Put 6 brats on to smoke. I had forgotten about those until I was asked why I bought them.
9:45167°/228°/220°Brats at about 160° and off, next batch on (total of 20 brats to smoke.)
Swapped in the next batch of brats. (Temps holding.)
11:00172°/228°/?°Ned to watch for temperature droop due to fuel exhaustion, but that doesn't seem to be happening yet.
11:45174°/246°/225°Last batch of brats off and now to wait for the butts to finish. Temp is climbing (recovery to over 260° after removing brats) and that should help moving the butts past the stall.
12:55177°/240°/220°Threw some more lump on and opened the third bottom vent about half.
2:30185°/?/?Meat off when it hit 185°.

While I smoked the butt, I took advantage of some of the extra space on the grate to smoke some brats. They take about an hour and were done in three turns.

The butts came out pretty good. The smaller one which I had put on the lower grate was done a little more. This is about the most I would want them done, otherwise I'm afraid they would lose too much texture. I served them with both Carolina mustard sauce (Bit Daddy's recipe) and Sweet Baby Ray's. Some had the pork with mo sauce at all.

What to do differently next time? First, make sure the lid vent is fully open when the cooker is buttoned up. Next... Think twice about using charcoal fines in the fire. I tried to finish off a bag of mesquite lump charcoal which had a lot of fines remaining. I hobbled the fire to start with the closed vent and recovery might have been hampered by the fines preventing good airflow through the charcoal bed. But overall, the temperature profile was good and I hit my target finish time after 16 hours of smoking.

What to do differently next time.

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