I got a little chief smoker for christmas, I tried smoking a 5lb pork shoulder today. FAIL! I brined overnight, dry rubbed 1 hour before putting in the smoker. Never got the meat over 85'. Tried going to the oven but it had already been to long in the danger zone.

Couple other notes:

  1. I wrapped the smoker in 3/4 in foam insulation to keep heat up
  2. I got the smoker to 178' at the top end

My thought is to try again and cut the 5lb shoulder into two pieces. I know you want low and slow which I agree with, and I know I'll have to finish in the oven which I am ok with.

Any advice?

  • Did the smoker temp come from an electric thermometer?
    – Eric
    Jan 4 '16 at 20:25

I looked up the Little Chief, and I am of the opinion that it will never achieve a cooking temperature sufficient to cook a pork shoulder. The description suggests it cooks at 165f, which is not far from the 178f you were seeing. That is viable for "cold smoking" foods, but not for safely cooking barbecue of any sort.

You should really be targeting over 200f to do a "low and slow" cook. Personally, I never feel comfortable cooking below 225f.

  • Thanks for the notes. I was thinking about cutting it in two pieces, smoking for 2 hours to get some smoke flavor and tightly wrapping in foil, finishing in the oven for a few more hours. Am I trying to hard to make it work? Jan 5 '16 at 16:15
  • You're maybe trying a little too hard, but I think your idea would probably work. I'd even consider going 60-90 minutes in the smoke, as that will probably give you the flavor you are seeking.
    – Sean Hart
    Jan 6 '16 at 17:32

I had issue even with smoking salmon in my Lil Chief... I learned that if you use the smoker just for flavoring the meat/fish... then move it to the oven to cook, you can have great results. It's really helped me have great tasting smoked foods, without having to step up to a more expensive smoker. It's just not in my budget yet.

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