Memorial Day Cook

Short week this week as expected with the holiday and all.  I am starting to get frustrated with the home building process. Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t expect this to happen…I guess I was just being dumb in thinking that it would get moving the day after we closed. I think realistically it will not be finished until mid to late September. Whatever. Still need to pick out flooring and talk about a few other things with the design but right now any forward progress is what we are looking for.
Memorial Day BBQ- I purchased a little gizmo called “The BBQ Guru” that is intended to help control the temps a bit more effectively in most wood/charcoal fired cookers. Basically what it is a watertight programmable device that is connected to a 10 CFM fan that will pulse off/on to stoke the fire for an indefinite amount of time.  You set the temp to whatever you desire; close all the bottom vents on the cooker and let the fan do the work. It’s really a great idea and seemed to work very well under the right conditions.
Here is a photo of the set up. It looks a little robotic with the whole contraption but well worth the results.
I was able to figure out a few things that I was previously un aware of. First off, the temperature that I had  been cooking at prior to using the controller were considerably higher than my targeted 225 while manually setting vents and adjusting the temps. This was evidenced by the much longer cooking period…the shoulders never got to the target of 195F internal and I decided to pull them anyway as we were all getting hungry. Important note: The target temp of 195 is not the temp that the pork is safe to consume…realistically is in the 160 range. For smoking a shoulder the magic happens at around 195F. It’s at this point the shoulders have broken down to the point all the fat renders out of the meat making for a juicy and tender product once you start shredding. In my experience anything south of the 195 mark makes the shoulders a little tougher and not quite as juicy.
The other thing that I noted is that I stink at cooking ribs. My technique is not consistent enough to produce the same quality every time. It also might be that I was still operating the cooker at the 225F mark and realistically the temps should be a bit higher than that. The other thing I did was instead of foil wrapping the ribs I instead put them all in an aluminum pan and covered them in foil. Bad idea. I was using spares trimmed to STL style and truthfully I have not had good luck with them and I think I am not using high enough heat and long enough cook times. I want to give it another try in the near future at a higher temp and see what the outcome is. They looked good just didn’t have that fall off the bone texture I like. I need to try to get a little more consistent to attempt a competition cook that I am thinking about next May.
Lots of experimenting with this weekend and for the most part it turned out OK…Pork shoulders were the stand out. I fired the smoker up around 2 pm on Saturday to try some chicken thighs and didn’t shut it off till Sunday at about 5:30pm adding charcoal only once.

I didn’t get a ton of pictures with this cook as I drank my way through most of it!


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