Top positive review
51 people found this helpful
My first time
on August 11, 2013
I've been grilling for years and usually use an instant probe to test internal temperatures. But I was recently introduced to the joys of smoking and discovered that smoking meat is a whole different game. "If you're lookin' you ain't cookin'." In other words, if you're opening up the smoker to check the meat temperature, you're causing the smoker to lose heat and cook unevenly.
This became even more of an issue the first time I tried to make pulled pork. I did some research online and found that pulled pork becomes tender and "pullable" because it's cooked to a higher temperature and longer than what it would take to just have your pork "done." Instead of getting the pork butt to 160deg, you need to get it up to 195-200deg, and with a smoker that only got an internal temp of about 225deg, that's a long slow process. To do it right, I found that I needed an thermometer that I could leave in the meat and in the smoker for the entire duration of the smoke.
I followed my usually process...seasoning 11lbs of pork shoulder and letting the dry rub marinate overnight, soaking my wood chunks overnight, getting up at 4:30am to start the lump charcoal with my Weber charcoal starter, and boiling water for my water pan. The only "new" step was spending a few minutes reading the instructions on my new Maverick thermometer, installing the batteries (that come with the unit), installing the probe in the grill and shoving the second probe in the meat. I had the whole thing put together in my Masterbuilt vertical $59.00 smoker and I was smoking by 5:30am on the 4th of July and I went back to bed.
The meat got up to about 160deg within 8 hours...and then didn't budge above that temperature for about another 2 hours! I learned that at 160deg, the meat connective tissues start breaking down and that takes energy (and makes the meat tender!). Finally at about 10 hours into the smoke, the temperature started to slowly rise again. I helped it along a little by increasing the airflow to my smoker a little and getting the temp up to 250. (I also found out the the thermometer that came with my smoker is accurate between 32deg and 212 degrees and then is completely inaccurate above 212 degrees). I couldn't have regulated the temperature that carefully without the Maverick thermometer.
Finally, 11 1/2 hours after I started the smoke, the meat hit the magic 198deg mark. I pulled it off and let it rest for about an hour and then started pulling pork. It was awesome, and we had a great 4 of July supper with pulled pork sandwiches, homemade refrigerator pickles, corn casserole, cole slaw and Jello cake.
The smoker stayed closed all day doing its job, being opened only once to add more liquid to the water pan. The best part was, the smoker sat out in the sun all day, and I spend the day in the shade monitoring the temperature on the remote!