I thought I'd drop these pics over here of my pork butt last weekend and add a couple of comments and observations.....
Quite pleased with the way it turned out - I was shooting for some 'heavy' bark on this one --not quite as heavy as I wanted, but I think the quality of the bark was fantastic - the color and flavor was spectacular without a burnt color or taste! I've had 5 meals off of it so far after putting ~4+ lbs in the freezer for later and each time I have some I'm more impressed with the flavor! I went light with the (big leaf) maple chunks fearing a bad outcome and went pretty heavy with the hickory..... in hindsight, I wish I would have gone heavier with the maple! I now have no reservations of using BL maple in the smoker and it seemed to mix really well with the hickory -- mellowing and sweetening the typically 'sharp' hickory smoke flavor.
I set up the WSM with for a snake burn - no water in the pan - fired it up and dialed it in to ~250. It ran nice and steady for ~2.5 hours when I thought to myself 'this is gonna be an easy cook'...... THATs right when the temp started swinging back and forth.... I was monitoring the grate temp with a remote probe and was happy to see good agreement with the lid themo for the first 2.5 hours.... then something changed and the differences were up to 35-40 degrees at times --- I wasn't surprised to see the grate temp lower than the lid, but I was baffled when the grate temps were running (much) hotter than lid temp --- I never expected that to happen. My guess is that the swings had to do with wind shifts and differences on how the coals caught --- I was seeing the temps drop to 200 and peak at ~ 300 on the lid thermo. All in all, it wasn't that bad, but I'm happy I was monitoring the grate - I set the alarm on the probe to alert at 280 as a fail safe and it only went off once when it spiked while I had the lid off tending the butt. Made it a solid 8+ hours on burn time for the snake set up - the temp started to dip ~8.5 hours so I stirred the coals - for the first time - finding most burned and scattered --- piled them up and added ~10 lit coals to get them burning again (for good measure) and finished out the cook to ~11 hours. It easily could have gone another 2-3 hours at that point. It was actually the best 'burn' I've had with the WSM yet - really built up my confidence and excitement for the next one! I think my problems on previous burns was that I was sprinkling wood chips across the top of the coals that caught and burned the coals much earlier and faster than they should have and having water in the pan during the cook 'muted out' the temp swings that were really going on at the time - hence the reason and beauty of the water pan.
Can't wait for the next cook!!! It will probably be a while... but I'm definitely gonna go hard and heavy with the maple and try for an even better bark!
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