Barbecue is one of those things that I never get tired of eating. Ribs, pulled pork, chicken, beef, you name it, if it is cooked over charcoals I love it. There is something special about cooking on a grill, food just seems to taste better, at least to me. I've been wanting to get a smoker for quite a while. My gas grill needed to be replaced anyway, so instead of getting another grill, I decided on the Weber Smokey Mountain. I got the 22.5 inch model, I figured you can cook small things on a big grill, but it doesn't work the other way around.
My first cook on the WSM was three racks of spare ribs, and while they came out pretty good, it wasn't the best thing to start with. A brand new WSM runs a bit hot, and I think ribs are much more unforgiving when it comes to temperature changes and such. I need more practice just using it, so we will revisit ribs another day. Technically this was my second cook on my WSM, but I tried to focus on the details and make sure it came out right.
I loaded the charcoal ring with a full load of Kingsford charcoal to get this party started. I had a few pieces of dried Oak laying around that I cut into small pieces and split in half. I spaced them evenly on top of the coals.
On top of these unlit coals I added half a chimney full of white hot coals and assembled the smoker. It should be noted that I filled the water pan with water, despite learning that you don't have to use water, I thought that for the first few cooks I would use it.
Yes, I know that gas grill is dirty. Yes, I know it is REALLY dirty. I'm a bad grill owner, sue me.
I put the lid on the smoker, opened the top vent all the way open, made sure the bottom vents were open as well and let it come up to temperature. I closed the bottom vents almost all the way when it hit 225 on the dome thermometer, and it stabilized at about 250 pretty soon after. With nothing else to do, I took a deep breath and put the two seven pound butts on the smoker, closed the lid, said a prayer to the temperature gods and closed it up for 6 hours.
I got boneless butts, I just didn't read the package well enough. I tied these with a few loops of natural fiber string. When the butcher takes the bone out of the butt he leaves a large flap of meat in its place. You have to tie these back together so you get equal cooking across the whole butt. Next time I will find bone in butts for sure. I had opened the butts the night before, seasoned them with a mixture of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder and left them in the fridge over night. I made some home made dry rub, heavy on the brown sugar, with no extra salt added. I used black pepper, brown sugar, raw sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, and some chili powder in my rub.
When I checked the butts after 6 hours of cooking, with me only making small adjustments on the vents to move the temperature around a bit, I took them off after making sure that I had hit an internal temp of 165. I brought them in the house and wrapped them with aluminum foil.
I sprayed them with apple juice and wrapped them tight. They went back on the grill and cooked for another 3 hours before I opened the grill again. My plan was to check the temperature and then have them cook another hour or so. When I checked it though, they were both sitting at the 200 degree mark and I knew they were done. I pulled them off the grill, vented the foil just a bit to allow them to cool some, then re-wrapped them and let them sit for 2 hours.
I pulled them and just mixed a little of the rendered juices back in and finally after a 9 hour cook plus 1 hour of prep and 2 hours of rest, I had more pulled pork that I knew what to do with.