Here’s a quick update before I hit the shower and get ready for people to show up. The smoker was running a little hot, so I shut two of the lower vents and left the one facing the wind open 50%. The vent change was around 4:45PM and now 45 minutes later, the lid temp is down to 220˚F and the pork roast has been stable at 132˚F. I think that’s an ideal temp for rendering the existing fat in the two cuts and we should get some juicy results.
Also, I’m sticking with maple this time and not mixing in any hickory like before. I think that will give us an honest flavor and not cloud the salmon like previous smoke attempts.
Side note: Watch your favorite grocery stores every other day for meat bargains. When an item gets within 48 hours of it’s “sell by” date, it usually gets reduced 50% in price. That makes it easy to pick up high-end meat for a bargain price. If you freeze it right away, you’re OK, but why not “smoke’m if you got ’em”?
Tammy and I are having people over tonight and that means it’s time to fire up the smoker. Last weekend, while Tammy was out of town, I spent about 5 hours with [Matt Kerner](http://kerner.net) going over some of the nuances of running the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. Combined with the wisdom of the [Virtual Weber Bullet](http://virtualweberbullet.com), I’m running a successful smoke right now.
The meat of choice is pork roast from Sam’s about 4 pounds in size. It’s two end pieces of the sirloin (I think) that are tied together with butcher’s twine in to a neat bundle that makes for even cooking. I rolled it in some [Galena Street Rub](http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeysgalena.html) from Penzey’s and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator while I prepped the smoker.
I used a half full ring of charcoal that was left over from the last smoke, knocking the ash off of the briquets and dumping the excess. I then took five small pieces of maple and arranged them to form a rough square with one piece of the wood in the middle. Next, I lit 20 briquets in a chimney starter then pulled the cooking grates and water pan out of the center cooking section. I cleaned the two grates and pan, reassembled them in the center cooking section and filled the pan with water. Back inside, Tammy had already pulled the pork out of the fridge to give it a chance to come close to room temperature. I inserted a probe thermometer, taking care to avoid air gaps where the two pieces of meat are tied together.
It takes about 20 minutes for the charcoal to get done in the starter, so when it was mostly grey, I pulled the briquets out one by one and place them on top of the charcoal in the ring inside the “square” of wood I constructed before. My guess was that I would get good smoke from the center piece of wood initially and more smoke from the rest of the pieces as the other charcoal became lit.
At this point, it was time to assemble the cooker with the goodies. On the bottom rack went the pork roast and the top rack I put five ears of corn (stripped of all husk but the last layer). I assembled the cooker and put a standard thermometer in the top vent to monitor smoker temperature. I know that the smoker tends to run hot at the lid, so I’m shooting for 250˚F. At 3:00PM CST time of assembly, the thermometer read 180˚F. Only 15 minutes later, the temps creeping past 200˚F which is a good sign and also time to shut the bottom vents to the 25% open mark. Previous smokes of mine started too hot and cooked the food too fast but this looks like it’s “on track”. A check at 3:45PM shows a temp of 228˚F which means a solid increase in temp and good fire control even with the vents nearly closed at the bottom. Finally, a 4:00PM check shows a steady 245˚F–perfect for barbecue.
Next stops: check the corn at 5:00PM (2 hour point), add the salmon at 6:30PM (1 hour before dinner time).