Up In Smoke

The Challenge:

 To smoke pork in an electric smoker and eat it.

My Inspiration: 

I watch a lot of food shows and I feel like Barbecuin’* and Smokin’* Meats is all the rage. I have always wanted to try it, but I didn’t know where to start. Smokin’* meats isn’t one of those hobbies you can pick up randomly. Smokers are really expensive and require a lot of additional support equipment and the minimum time commitment for smoking a large piece of meat is 8 hours. Thankfully I remembered that my in-laws have a smoker they haven’t used in a while along with all the extraneous equipment I’d need for a maiden smokin’* voyage. We borrowed all their stuff, procured all the necessary ingredients and began our smokin’* journey.

*Yes, I must always drop the “g” at the end and add an apostrophe when I am talking about barbecuin’ and smokin’. I do this in honor of my personal hero: Sweet Brown.

What I Need: 

  • A nice, non-rainy day
  • 10+ hours of free time
  • Bradley Electric Smoker
    • Wood Pellets + all the racks/internal workings to make smoke and heat
  • Digital thermometer for meat and internal temp of smoker
  • Pork Shoulder/Butt
  • Spices for spice rub
  • Mustard
  • Spray bottle full of apple cider and oil for basting
  • Various kitchen tools

Who is Helping Me: 

My husband and I are tackling this together. He’s perhaps more excited than I am about this whole adventure. He loves smoked meats and he loves a day-long project. Special thanks to my in-laws for letting us borrow their stuff.

Who is NOT Helping Me: 

People on the internet! I googled countless articles and recipes on how to smoke a pork shoulder and I found about 50,000 different approaches and methods. Who do I trust?!!? I ended up blending a bunch of different concepts and hoped for the best.

How I Did It:

  1. The days prior: Set up the smoker and make sure you have all the necessary parts for smoking. Don’t forget to check the batteries in the thermometer or else you will have to send your husband to Home Depot at 7am on the day of the smoke to buy AAAs.
  2. The night before: Prepare your meat by covering it in a thin layer of mustard. This will help act as a glue tomorrow morning when you apply your dry rub. Some articles I read said to only do mustard the night before, some articles said do the dry rub the night before.. I decided to only do the mustard.mustard.jpg
  3. The morning of: While your husband figures out how to work the smoker, prepare your dry rub and apply liberally to the meat.
  4. When your smoker is preheated and smokin’, place the internal thermometer inside your meat and place your meat in the smoker.  Smoker temp: 225 degrees. Set your timer for 8 hours
  5. After 2 hours, begin basting your meat with 2:1 mixture of apple cider and oil in a spray bottle every 45-60 minutes. (I’m not sure this did anything, but people said to do it)giphy-downsized-large.gif
  6. When your meat reaches desired internal temp, remove from smoker and let it rest. We had company over and didn’t have time to let it rest. This was a mistake.
  7. Carve and serve.giphy-downsized-large (1).gifPorkDone.jpg

Final Thoughts/Would I do it again?: 

Yes, we would definitely do this again.. but with a few changes! Here’s what we’d do differently:

  • Buy a different cut of meat. I bought “Pork Shoulder/Butt” from Costco and I think I should have bought a pure Pork Butt. The meat we used was too lean.
  • Smoke for longer. We should have done a longer smoke – 14 hours or so – to get a more tender end result
  • I don’t know if I needed to use the basting method. It dropped the oven temp significantly every time I did it and I couldn’t appreciate a difference. Next time we’ll omit this step and see how it turns out.
  • We should have let the meat rest. We didn’t let it rest at all and that was probably a big mistake. Some have said let it rest 2 hours. That seems like a lot, but we’ll try it next time.
  • I’d like to experiment with different wood pellet types – we used Hickory but maybe another type would have been better?
  • We should have started the whole day’s process earlier. We didn’t get our meat in until 8:45 am and we felt like we were rushed to get it ready for dinner rather than just letting the smoker do its work. We messed with turning the temps up and down to modulate the oven temp too and we should have just left it.

It did taste amazing though. The flavor of the rub was awesome and we did NOT taste the mustard we used to adhere the rub. The meat wasn’t “pulled pork” like we had hoped, but it was still delicious, tender, smoky meat and we really enjoyed it!

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