There are lots of different places to look if you want to start smoking your own meat. I particularly like Amazing Ribs, the Smoker King,, Smoking Meat Forums and BBQ Brethren. Some of these sites will give you all the information you need about how to build your own Ugly Drum Smoker (I kid you not – that’s what they’re called, or UDS for short) out of an old oil barrel. With a bit of DIY and a dose of creativity, you can have your own fully functioning back garden smoker in just a few hours for about £25.

20170304_061214Here’s ours in action, half-way through smoking a 12-hour pork shoulder.

Sure, I know it looks like a slighty dented R2D2, but it produces mighty fine meat.

It seems that different smokers have different cooking characteristics. I’ve tended to find that the cooking times on mine are a little longer than on most of the websites I’ve seen.

But with that caveat in place, here are the timings, temperatures and other tricks that somehow combined to produce this rather tasty 7lb 4oz smoked pork shoulder.

  • Rub: Magic Pork Dust (I think on reflection that this had too much sugar, so it blackened a little too much. I’d remove or dramatically reduce the sugar in future.)
  • Temperature below meat: 275F to 290F. Temperature above meat (once cooking well underway, after a couple of hours), around 265F.
  • No mop or spritz; just left the lid on the whole time. That was an experiment; a number of books and online gurus say there’s no need to bother with mopping (at least for large pieces of meat), and I’m looking for ways to cut the cooking time. Leaving the lid on also made the temperature much more stable, meaning less fiddling around with the vents etc.
  • 10 hours on the rack, no rotation. That took the internal temperature to nearly 200F.
  • Then 2 hours in foil, taking the internal temperature up to around 208F (above the magic 203F).
  • Then wrap in about 8 towels and rest for 2 hours. Chop and shred before serving.
  • Result: tender and juicy. Enough for 14 people (with lots of sides and a rasher or two of bacon). Served with Sweet Abi Sauce and Ben’s Birthday Blaster Dip.