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How To Smoke Meat


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I had never ever used a smoker before I met my other half Jeff. Quickly after he taught me how to use it I realized that going my whole life unknowing this was tragic. I had been missing out on some amazing food. You can do so many things on a smoker. Pork, chicken, beef, sausages, meatloaf, jalapeno poppers, salmon, etc. The taste the faint hit of smoke gives is not something you should live without.

It may seem daunting at first. But it is really quite simple. It takes time. A smoker. And an incredible amount of patience. Oh and for this recipe, a big hunk of pork butt. (We used a 6-7 pound Boston butt roast) How much time you ask? A guideline of 1.5 hours per pound can be considered. e.g. a 6 pound roast will take about 9 hours from start to finish.

For purposes of this How to Smoke Meat tutorial we are utilizing the Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker Smoker. So when we refer to the WSM, that is what we are talking about. And here it is – disassembled.

wsm-parts

So. First things first, get those coals going.

chimney-stack-coal-starter

A charcoal chimney (coal starter) is the best way to start coals. Fill the chimney one-quarter full of charcoal (about 20 pieces), put some paper under the chimney to act as the coals ignition, and light it with your chosen fire starting method. We used a welder’s torch. A match, however, would be just fine. If you do not have a chimney coal starter, you really need to go buy one. You can not start coals for smoking with lighter fluid. If you absolutely refuse to get a chimney starter. Place 20 coals in a pile on top of a piece of paper and light. (This method almost never ever works tho.)

In the base of the WSM, fill the charcoal ring with unlit charcoal and scatter 4-5 chunks of wood (we used apple and hickory) within the charcoal.

coals-with-wood-chips

Sure this doesn’t seem like a lot, but a little bit goes a long way. We want faint whispers of smoke, not nuclear reactor smoke. Let the smoke kiss the meat and move along. Too much smoke and the meat will taste vile.

Once the coals in the chimney starter have grayed over, add them to the unlit ones in the base of the WSM.

hot-coals-on-cold-coals-and-wood-chips

Make sure they mix in with the unlit ones and the wood chunks. This is known as the Minion Method of lighting the coals and will ensure you do not need to add more fuel (coals) during cooking, unless you go longer then 12 hours.

Now fill the water pan with water. This water acts as a buffer between the heat and the meat. And assemble the center of the WSM.

middle-set-up

First put in the water pan (which should be full of water). Then the bottom grate and finally the top grate. Now carefully put this assembled center part on top of the prepared base.

grill-with-center-on

Put the lid on and open the bottom vents and let it go until the WSM’s temperature reaches 220° F.

Smoker all put together

While you are waiting for it to reach 220° F. Prepare the meat.

Unlike grilling and roasting, this rub does NOT impart any real flavor into the meat. That is what the smoke is for. So marinades or rubs that are applied hours/days/weeks earlier don’t mean a hill of beans. The rub creates a wonderful crust on the meat that is To. Die. For. The following is our go to recipe:

pork-rub

Pulled Pork Rub

As you can probably tell from the previous photo – you take all of those ingredients and combine well.

Next take your pork and slather it with mustard.

pork-with-mustard-slathered-on-it

Just some plain ole’ yellow mustard will do, but you COULD use Bertman’s Original if you were so lucky to have it. You are using it simply as a glue of sorts for the amazing rub you just mixed up.

pork-with-rub-rubbed-on-it

Next, take the rub you just prepared and apply it all over the entire surface of the pork. Looking good!

Time to check the temperature of the WSM. It should be happily at 220° F.

Smoker temperature.

We are a little high here. Which is ok. You can easily adjust it with the 3 vents at the bottom of the WSM.

temperature-control-vents

Don’t close them completely or you kill all of the oxygen that is getting to the fire.

So you now have your WSM at the perfect 220° F degrees. Time to get the prepared pork.

pork-on-the-smoker-grate-with-temperature-probe

Place the pork on the top grate, and insert the probe of the thermometer into the side of the pork at its thickest part. We ran the cord through the top vent of the smoker and attached it to our handy-dandy electronic heat-resistant thermometer. You need one of these because the last thing you want to do once you put the lid on is take it off every half hour to check the meats temperature and ruin your perfect WSM temperature! Once the lid goes on it stays on. The pork will not magically disappear in all that mystical smoke. Trust us.

temperature-of-the-meat

Keep in mind this is a time consuming process. You do not want to start this at 5:00 pm or you will be baby sitting it overnight. We generally always start any smoking first thing in the morning ( For this tutorial we started at 8:30 am). See, the starting temperature of the pork is about 67° F. You have quite a wait ahead of you. You are waiting for 160° F.

So, while keeping an eye on the temperature, feel free to go about your day.

Temperature check at approximately 10:30am…

Meat temperature

Temperature check at approximately Noon…

temp131

Temperature check at approximately 2:00… EXCITED!

temp - 144

Temperature check at approximately 4:00. I wasn’t kidding when I said this is a lengthy process.

Temp is at 156

We have reached an important temperature here. You are looking for an internal temperature of 155° – 160° F. Disconnect the temperature probe and remove the lid and check out PORK PERFECTION.

Perfect pork

Remove the pork from the grill (don’t forget to put the lid back on the WSM!) and wrap completely in foil. Put the temperature probe back in and return it to the grill.

Pork wrapped in foil

Wondering why the foil? Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of about 140° F it has taken all the smoke it can. From this point on you are just cooking the meat. The foil helps speed this process a bit. You are now waiting for the pork to reach an internal temperature of 190° F. Which can take some time. Around 160°-180° you will hit a point called the plateau. This is when the meat starts converting collagen into gelatin and starts working on rendering the fat. When you hit the plateau the temperature on the thermometer will not move up. The plateau may take awhile to get through (sometimes over an hour). Do not touch anything. Everything is still working just fine. This is why keeping an eye on the temperature and being patient is part of the process.

the-perfect-temperature

Once you reach 190° you want to take the pork off the smoker, bring it in the house and let it sit, still wrapped in foil, for an hour. After that painfully long hour has passed, it is time to pull it off the bone.

pulling-the-pork

Pulling the pork is very easy. You can take two forks or use your hands. It is pretty hot however.

Serve it on a toasted crusty roll, in a warm tortilla or just on the plate. But whatever you do. Serve it with the bbq sauce of your choice on the side. It tastes absolutely amazing on its own, you don’t want to lose that taste in sauce.

pulled-pork-perfection-on-a-bun

Congratulations! You have just smoked pork butt, your first pulled pork! And if it turned out the way ours did (damn AWESOME!) your taste buds will LOVE you!


About

Meet Jeff & Heather. The dysfunctional duo that make up the cooking team of He Cooks She Cooks. They have a weakness for feel good, down to earth, amazingly tasty eats that almost always include the addition of beer. From growing their own tomatoes to brewing their own beer, they like to cook from scratch as much as possible. When they aren't feeding their friends they are geeks of the computer kind. They share their home with Bacon the lovebird, the insane kitten duo of Voodoo & Hops, and a motley bunch of friends who won't stop drinking all their good beer. They know what's important. Love. Food. Beer.
Jeff & Heather's website: http://hecooksshecooks.com/ | View all posts by

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