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Beginner high temp/cooking too fast!


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Hey, y’all. Got the smoker around a year ago, since then I’ve been trying to work at smoking meats. Up to this point I’ve only done pork butt since I’ve always heard that it is the most forgiving of the meats.

 

Today, I started smoking a 10lb pork butt for a get together later on and I’m worried about how fast it’s been cooking. The grill temp has stayed between 230F and 300F this whole time, however after 3.5 hours, the internal food temp is already at 196F! Is this cooking too fast? Should I do something different? I have it up on a grill pan wrapped in foil. The meat is open to the smoke though. I’ve also noticed I’m not getting the bark I have seen in times past.

 

for the fire. I’m using lump coal and lighting with a paraffin cube. I also have the smoking stone in there to help block some of the direct heat. Would love to hear the thoughts from the veterans!

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Welcome! What I have learned is the top damper is the primary driver of grill temp. To smoke, you want a small opening on the bottom damper, and on the top damper, what you think is way too small of an opening. On my grill, it's around 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch. If I do that, I can easily maintain temps around 225-235 with a full firebox of lump charcoal.

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Just curious, what are you using to measure your pit / meat temps?  Is it possible that your readings are faulty?  Even at 300 degrees, 3.5 hrs seems really fast for a 10lb pork butt.  Even if the internal temp reading was accurate, I wouldn't expect it to turn out too well without having more time for the fat to fully render (though I'm sure there are plenty of people who love "hot and fast" pork, I've just never tried it myself.)

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Your definitive source of information should be an external-reading thermometer which has separate probes for firebox and food temperature.  I bought a very nice wireless unit at Home Depot for about $40.

 

You should bring the firebox slowly up to cooking temperature:  you will probably be surprised at how small the bottom and top openings are.  To me, the bottom one is most important because that's where the oxygen comes in.  I usually have it open half-an-inch or so.  Make slight nudges, then wait for the thermometer to tell you the effect.

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Well, going back to basics, I don't know what we're dealing with.  Without any pictures you described it as "the smoker' that you got about a year ago.  What is it? 

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