The popularity of pulled pork has reached an all-time high, with now even the mainstream fast food joints touting pulled pork rolls. For me honestly, pulled pork is overrated and is really all about the sauce. Give me a whole pig, some pork belly or a rack of ribs any day! 

If you haven't tried smoking before, I'm hoping that this quick reference guide will give you the confidence to give it a go.  Grab your thermometer, meat and smoker and you're good to go. 

Before we get started though, I just wanted to go right back to basics, especially if you've never smoked anything before. There are two types of smoking, cold smoking and hot smoking. To be clear, what I'm talking about here is hot smoking, where the temperature of the smoker is at least 100 degrees. If you're just starting out you could cheat a little and use a gas smoker and get the smokey flavour by adding wood chips, but I personally use charcoal and wood in what is commonly referred to as an offset smoker or a stick burner

Once you're all set up, the key is to keep an eye on your smoker temperature as well as the internal temperature of the pork. There are so many variables as to how long it'll take the pork to be ready (how many kgs it is, the outside temperature etc) but below is a rough guide to get you started. Pork is totally edible and safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 75 degrees C. With smoking though, you want to take the meat beyond being food safe and into the melting in your mouth territory.

 

  Time Smoking Temp Finished Temp
Baby Back Ribs 5 hrs 107 - 121 C or 225 - 250 °F 82 C or 180 °F
Whole Pork 16 - 18 hrs 107 - 121 C or 225 - 250 °F 93 C or 200 °F
Pork Shoulder 9 hrs 107 - 121 C or 225 -250 °F 93 C or 200 °F

 

Smoking - Pork Shoulder in an Offset SmokerTips: Pork shoulder (Pork Butt)

Pork shoulder smoking time or Pork Butt smoking time (Pork butt is the upper shoulder) usually takes about 1 hour per pound of meat, so the ideal size being 12 pounds, meaning more or less 12 hours for the meat smoking time. Make sure your pork shoulder is already thawed a few hours before you plan to smoke it. Once you have it, put it onto your table and start by putting your favourite rub all over the piece of meat. We usually recommend BBQ rub but you might choose one of your preference.

Make sure you trim the excess fat of the meat as well. Like most big chunks of meat, it is better to use the low and slow method which like you may have guessed it keeping the smoker temperature around 225 – 250 °F.

Once you have followed all of the above methods then, you just need to keep an eye onto your meat thermometer. Once the meat hits around 160 – 165 °F, take it off and wrap it in aluminium foil then put it back until it gets to around 190 – 195 °F.

 

Smoking - Pork Ribs in a Gas SmokerTips: Baby Back Rib

Baby back ribs usually take about 5 hours, however, you can certainly smash them out quickly. I've done them before in 3 and a half hours. You may have heard some people mentioning about how competition style ribs vary from normal "at home" ribs. Competition style ribs aren't cooked as "well done" as ribs that people typically cook at home because one of the rules is that the judges should actually see a bite mark when they bite into the rib. For me, I love it when ribs fall off the bone. I feel that competition style ribs are underdone. But hey, that's just me. Ultimately, cook them how you personally like them. Noone is going to be judging you at home and marking you down for cooking ribs that fall off the bone 

How to measure the temperature?

To check the temperature, you should probably have to buy a good digital meat thermometer.  We recommend the EZTemp thermometer. It has 2 probes which allow you to stab one into the chicken and the other at grill level on your smoker. The beauty of this thermometer is that you can set minimum and maximum alarms so that you get a reminder when the temperature of your smoker falls/spikes and also when your meat is ready. While gauges on smokers give you a guesstimate" of the ambient temperature inside your smoker, a digital thermometer. is more accurate. 

Remember, this is just a general guide. Other factors can affect how your meat is cooked in the smoker, such as:

  • The thickness of the meat
  • Whether the meat has been deboned
  • How much fat the meat has
  • How hot/cold it is outside and how well insulated the smoker is 
  • The type of smoker ( Click here to help you choose the best smoker for you)
  • Using wood charcoal, as well as the type of wood you use, affects the flavour of the meat.
  • Whether the meat was brought up to room temperature or not

To see some delicious recipes, Click here. To see how to cook Smoked Spicy Pulled Prok, click here.

Want to get hands-on experience on how to prepare awesome BBQ from experienced pitmasters? Check out the dates for our upcoming BBQ Masterclasses and in-store demo's in our Sydney and Melbourne stores.

 

 Rhiannon Peterson   By: Rhiannon Peterson

 

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