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never ending stall on pork


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First, thanks to everyone on this forum for the information you provide. I bought a KJ Classic II, my first kamado, in the spring and have loved it. Having this message board as a resource has been very helpful from figuring out which kamado to purchase, accessories, tips, etc. 

 

Overall I have used the KJ fairly successfully, particularly when it comes to steak, pizza, and other things using really high heat. I'm still figuring out its intricacies for low and slow cooks, but have had some good results (along with one or two mistakes, but overall have been making progress tinkering with one thing at at time).

 

One of my biggest "problems" thus far as been smoking Boston butts. I don't know why, but they have taken forever.  I am currently smoking my third one, and like the other two this is on schedule to take 4+ hours per pound. The previous two have turned out well in terms of taste, so not the end of the world, but they have taken so long that it almost doesn't seem worth it. On my second Boston butt cook, I put it on Friday night at 10pm to have for lunch on Saturday. By the time it got up to temperature, had rested, was pulled and on my plate, it was 12:57am on Sunday morning. I have not had this problem with brisket or ribs - those have taken within a couple hours of how long I expected them to cook.

 

By way of reference, before buying the KJ, I would smoke using indirect heat on a Webber kettle grill for the last 10 years. While I am far from a master, I generally know what I am doing.

 

Any idea what the problem might be? The meat has come from three different sources. The outdoor temperature has varied over the three cooks. The only thing I can think of is that I am putting too much apple juice and water in the drip pan (I typically fill up a large drip pan about half way) so that there is too much moisture in the kamado, making the stall last far longer than it otherwise would. However, I put the same amount of juice or water in the same size drip pan for brisket and haven't had any issues. The Boston butt that is currently on is a small, 4.75 pound cut that has been on for 9 hours and 8 minutes at an average grate temperature of 228 degrees yet it still only at an internal temperature of 158 degrees.

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

Chris

 

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6 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

At 4+ hours per pound, you are having a thermometer issue somewhere.  You are not cooking as hot as you think you are.  

 

What is your grill temperature as measured on the dome thermometer?

 

+1 X 2

 

Have you calibrated your dome thermometer?  Mine was really off reading higher than the actual temp.

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First, John's question is a legit one but also the strategy of cooking at 4+ hours per pound. Sound ridiculously high with all due respect.

 

52 minutes ago, Buttburner said:

Bump the pit temp up to 275 

 

However, in the midst of a cook you have to take on the Marine's attitude to adapt and overcome. So Buttburner's advice becomes critical. Sometime Saturday Morning at the latest, I would have increased my cooking temps in order to get finished around my target time...

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Thanks for the replies. I’m using a FireBoard thermometer. Earlier today I used a Thermpen on the pork and it was within a couple of degrees as the probe attached to the FireBoard. I suppose there could be a problem with the rounded ambient probe (FireBoard currently showing the grate at 255 and the KJ dome thermometer has it between 235-240), which I will test next.


I haven’t had anything abnormal with brisket the 6-8 times I have made it, but this is the third time I have tried pulled pork and the third time that it is taking about twice as long as I had planned (the other two I bumped the temp up to 300 to finish).


This one is less than five pounds, has now been on for nearly 13 hours, and is only at an internal temperature of 167.

 

 

 

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Maybe try a few things to eliminate some variables:

 

Check your ambient probe. Plug the meat probe into the Fireboard and put it in the same location as the rounded ambient probe. This will let you know if the ambient probe is OK.

 

Calibrate your dome thermometer and then check that against the Fireboard probes. Then you'll know that all your thermometers are more or less agreeing with each other.

 

Eliminate the water pan. Just try a cook without it entirely. You shouldn't need it in a Kamado and it's just extra thermal mass that can't go over 212F.

 

Make sure you have plenty of charcoal in the basket. Don't skimp because you are only cooking low and slow. Fill it right up and light the middle only.

 

Make sure your pork is at room temperature before you put it in to cook.

 

Make sure your grill is properly heat soaked before you put the pork on. Light it, bring it to temp and then leave it for an hour before you start cooking.

 

If you have all these things sorted, then all that's left is adjusting the vent settings to hit your temp. Maybe start a little higher, like 300F and set the vents so that the temperature slowly declines to 275 or 250F.

 

 

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Yeah, agree with the others on the pan. That’s unnecessary on my pellet smoker and a kamado is a moister environment. Since the stall occurs because of moisture evaporating from the meat decreasing the temperature, it seems possible that adding excess moisture to the environment could slow that down.

 

 You don’t mention using foil, either. Try wrapping in foil once you hit 160.

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