I started smoking shit years ago using those cheesy little electric bullet smokers, even tried a cheap 89.00 chimney style smoker …

I did OK with these, but the units themselves absolutely sucked balls. I could only use the electric one on a hot day since it didn’t go above 210 degrees. The chimney style smoker required tons of charcoal and constant tweaking since it wouldn’t hold a consistent temp.

Enter the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:

Weber

Weber

I wish I started using one of these years ago. At 299.00 it’s worth every penny and it’s arguably the best entry level smoker out there. The multitude of positive reviews on Amazon are legit and one reviewer stands out from the rest: The Great Harry Soo.

I consider myself to be a disciple of the Soo. I’ve learned much from him without taking a single one of his cooking classes. His website SlapYoDaddyBBQ has a lot of good cooking advice and recipes. Harry Soo is a big fan of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and has won over 27 Grand Championships. His team also won the first season of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters show. What’s cool is that Soo and his team actually use the 299-399 Weber smokers in their contests.

Pork Butt Rub ...Gonna do a pork butt here, starting by rubbing one out, I mean rubbing it out. Then I’ll inject it with apple juice, brown sugar, paprika, and garlic powder. Next I’ll rub the outside with the aforementioned spices plus pepper and a little chili powder.

Here is an example of how the unit works. First, you fill the bottom up with charcoal, I’m not going too crazy here since it’s a smaller pork butt, so I’ll just fill it about 2/3 of the way. I’m probably looking at 7-9 hours at 225-240 degrees, filling it to the rim with charcoal would tack many more hours on. I throw a few hunks of hickory on the edges. Next, I get about a half a chimney of coals going. The Weber Chimney is like 14 bucks, made from mostly aluminum and it’s held up for well over a year now. I started out using the newspaper and olive oil trick to get it going. Screw that, making your own fire-starters by simply dipping cotton balls in paraffin wax is better in my opinion, buying the cheap ones Weber makes is best–they burn a little better and longer.

The coals get white-hot and I chuck them on top of the charcoal in the bottom of the unit. I made a small well in the middle for them, these will burn outward and slowly ignite the hickory and charcoal over many hours. The middle piece of the smoker goes on top followed by the lid. That middle piece is perfect to use as a stand for the chimney starter. Just like Harry Soo, I don’t fill the water bowl inside with water, I just cover it with aluminum foil.

Now that it’s fired up the chimney hole on the lid stays wide open as well as the three dampers on the bottom. Once the temperature reaches 200 degrees I close the bottom dampers leaving them only a little more than 1/8 open. If it were a windy day, I may completely close the damper facing the wind.

That’s it. Now I wait about six hours until the internal temperature is 160 or so. I did not have to mess with the smoker once during this time. One thing to be cognizant of while its smoking is leaving the lid open–don’t do it for more than a few seconds. The coals will burn much hotter–possibly igniting the wood chunks–and then you may have to mess with the chimney/dampers until it chills out. The top chimney always stays wide open, that is unless you have a huge temperature spike–usually from the lid being opened for a while. However, closing down the bottom dampers in addition to the top chimney will bring the temp down fast.

Once the nuclear pork butt reached 160 I decided to foil it. I did not foil the past two pork butts and they were absolutely excellent. They were also bigger and had more fat on them. This butt seems leaner and looked a bit dry on the outsideĀ  at 160 degrees so I decided to “steam” it within its own juices in addition to some apple juice and brown sugar. Buy the larger style Reynolds aluminum foil and get a tight seal on it before putting it back on the smoker. Choosing to foil or not or to spritzer with water or apple juice or not comes down to “feel” as the great Harry Soo says. If it looks more dry, give it a spritz. If it doesn’t just leave it alone. Harry Soo also says do not spray anything at all on the meat until it forms a crust on the outside that you can’t quite scrape away with a fingernail. That’s usually at the 160 degree mark I’ve found but not always. You want to form that crust before you do any foiling or spritzing with shit.

Christ, I was thinking of putting up a quick post about a friggen pork butt and it’s turned into an essay.

You might notice these cool Thermapen thermometer probes that cooks use, well they also cost 89 bucks or more. There’s a cheaper version I just got called the ThermoPop and it works great. Five seconds and you get a correct meat temp. Comes in handy for brewing beer too.

Falling off the Bone

Falling off the Bone

Once foiled, I let the meat go two hours more and the temperature was now 195. Perfect? Well not so fast. As a disciple of the great Harry Soo I learned to try and cook by feel and not temperature. When inserting the probe I noticed a little bit of resistance, there should be none when its done. I let it go another hour and it the temperature only raised two points. No resistance this time, it was done. Absolutely ready to fall off the bone. Tender, juicy, phantasmagorical, effervescent strips of pork tender juice pork, pork.

Tearing into this butt is easy.

Tearing into this butt is easy.

I couldn’t believe the amount of meat on this rather medium sized pork bomb. The meat piled up so high I needed another plate to continue harvesting with two forks. I put its fatty/applejuice-y drippings into a pan with about a cup of water, two tablespoons of apple cider (I think I added one more) a little brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper. A couple squirts of ketchup too for a nice dipping sauce.

Like Butter...

Like Butter…

Now I have more &^*&ing pork than I know what to do with.

Let’s see, pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork calzones, pulled pork burritos, pulled pork chimichangas, PORK…PORK-PORK–PORK PARK?? PARKK PORKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enough pork to feed a village. Or to last many days. Too much pork, really.

All Mounded Up

All Mounded Up

My advice to anyone that wants a solid entry level smoker, one that should last twenty years or more is to go with the 299.00 Weber and check out Soo’s informative review. It will probably be forever locked at the top left of all the reviews on the Amazon product page. In the off chance you found it sucks you could always sell it locally for near its full value or make a pretty decent black R2D2.

Also, if you want to do some pretty good smoking in a similar style and can’t swing 299, I have one more smaller, cheaper option I want to talk about coming in my next food category post.