Slow Roasting Pork Shoulder In A Smoker

It’s hot! The past week daytime highs have all been over 100F and nightime lows have still been mid-70s. We don’t have real air conditioning and at night we open all the windows wide and run an industrial strength fan. So we have been looking at ways of not cooking – the best ones involve cooking outside and the best by far is the smoker.

I use a Char-broil charcoal and water smoker. It cost me $25 many years ago and can still be had for less than $40. It is fuelled by charcoal (or wood) and the temperature is moderated by a pan of water that hangs over the heat source. Basics are that you start up the charcoal in your chimney starter (you do use a chimney starter, right?!) and then dump them carefully but very quickly into the bottom bowl of the smoker. Then you install the water bowl above that and then slide in the grill rack above that and put your meat on top. Cooking time is LONG. Usually 8 hours or so and I typically start it in the morning and check it every hours and a half, adding more fuel, rotating meat, etc.

But that assumes I am home. So now I have a new overnight technique. I start a really big load of fuel at about 10PM, put the meat on, reload fuel at 12:30 (just after midnight, my usual bedtime) and turn the meat. Then I go unload when I get up at 6 or so. Recently I did a whole 5-pound chicken, four pounds of country-style (no bone) pork ribs and six pieces of Indian-marinated chicken. The meat lasted us for a week essentially.

Now – this technique isn’t truly smoking – it is a little quick and a little hot (that big load of fuel starts to roast the meat). And I have discovered that I like this blended technique. So today I got a 5 pound pork shoulder, one of my favorite slow-roast cuts of meat, marinated it quickly in a sticky soy, garlic, sesame, plum-sauce chinese marinade and put it on to roast before I left for work. It will be turned at about 2PM by someone and when I get home at 6:30 or so I will crank up the flame and hot grill/roast/crisp the outside for about ten minutes.

Hopefully I will have pictures for you….

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  1. Hi Sam!

    Yes – it is very likely – actually I’ll probably do a pork shoulder again – they come out really really well – and I’ll also do some lamb because smoked lamb is just amazing (and rich).

    I hope to see you there! (and actually meet you in person for the first time!)

  2. Overnight! Scary, almost… Any worry of sparks flying into the wrong tinderbox (i.e., dry hillside, etc.)?

    I’d really like to try your method. But since I live in a townhouse complex, I think they’d call the fire department.

    Ah well, even so. Cranky just loves tending the smoker, so he’d be very sad, sleeping while all the fun happens by itself. 😀

  3. Hay,

    All night cooking can be fun sometimes. It’d take some experimenting, but I don’t think the fire has to be that hot through the night. If you could keep it above 150, it should be FINE. Start your large fire, let it mellow. Add meat and go to bed. Maybe wrap the cylinder with insulation, moving blanket or similar.


  4. I have no experience with smoked meats but the summer temperatures out in lafayette sound appealing…maybe one day I will graduate beyond Trader Joe’s pre-packaged and seasoned meat products…

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