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Apr 1, 2009 11:50 AM

BBQ Pork Shoulder on my Weber

I am looking forward to the warm weather and grilling with my Weber Charcoal Grill. I can hold my own on the grill and in the kitchen. Recently I have been making slow roasted pork shoulder in my oven. I cook it for 8-10 hours and it is awesome. I want to do the same cut of pork on the grill and go low and slow. Any tips on how to go about this? Specifically I am concerned about controlling the temperature on my charcoal grill. I assume too, that I am going to have to replenish the charcoal at least 2-3 times if I intend to go for 8-10 hours. Any tips my fellow hounds?

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  1. Position coals on only one side of your Weber. Once your coals are ready, add a handful of wet hickory chips to smoke the meat as it cooks. Place the meat on the side of the grill away from the coals and cover the grill with the vents over the meat to draw the smoke. Keep the bottom vents only slightly open to keep the fire slow. You will occasionally need to add coals throughout the process. Do so by slightly lifting the lid and adding hot coals through the side vent of the grill, occasionally also adding wet hickory chips to keep the smoke going.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      Thanks for the tips. One other question. You said to keep the bottom vent slightly open. What about the top vents? Keep them closed?

      1. re: angelo04

        Keep the top vents WIDE OPEN. The best way to control the fire is by modulating the bottom vents, which controls the amount of oxygen reaching the fire. Closing the top vents will smother the fire, making it sooty and generate a lot of creosote - which makes meat taste bitter. The goal is to have a small, efficiently burning fire, not a large, smoldering fire.

      2. re: JungMann

        When you replace the charcoal(use hardwood from the start) theres no need to add more wood chips(use chunks if possible). The meat will only take smoke for the first couple or hours. About half way thru your cook, wrap your shoulder/butt in extra thick foil(can take off weber and cook in over @ 250, until the meat is 193 degrees) Also, theres no need to soak your chips, i have been to many many bbq comps and have never once see guys winning Memphis and May soaking their flavoring wood.

        1. re: JungMann

          I add charcoal about every 30 minutes but it's not "hot" coals. How do you get them hot? Do you have a second grill or something going?

          1. re: c oliver

            You keep them lit in a chimney starter, or alternatively you light them in a fireproof container. I use an aluminum pan.

        2. I used to do a lot of indirect-heat cooking with the meat resting on a cake rack in an iron skillet. This keeps the food from contact with any direct heat from below while also keeping it out of its fat puddle. I think I used about fifteen briquets per side to start with, and kept the vents about three-quarters open, both top and bottom. You might want to invest in a remote-read meat thermometer, if you don't have one already, and kinda ride herd on it to watch the heat and moderate it as necessary, at least the first time you do this. The Weber manual was a big help to me. I found the rack-in-pan setup to be a lot easier to deal with than the usual grill-top/drip pan method.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Will Owen

            That reminds, you will want to put a tin pan with some water in the half of the grill that is not covered coals. The pan will catch the drippings without allowing them to smoulder.

          2. Please don't use briquets. If you need to replenish the charcoal, briquets must be started separately from the grill or they'll stink up the fire. Use hardwood chunk charcoal. It can be added at any time. And don't use wood chips, use chunks. You'll find that the hardwood lump charcoal only leaves about 10% of the ashes that briquets leave, which is mostly binders and fillers.

            3 Replies
            1. re: 1stmakearoux

              I've never found that to be the case and I've been using this technique for more than 20 years.

              1. re: c oliver

                i recall seeing or reading something that suggested that kingsford briquettes have an essentially negligible amount of "binders and fillers". it's essentially charcoal, and like c oliver i've never found that they produce an off flavor or too much ash to handle.

                1. re: tommy

                  I agree...I like lump charcoal best but will use Kingsford's or similar stuff in a pinch. All they add is cornstarch to bind the briquettes when moulding them. Never got any off flavors from them at all.

            2. Personally, I think Hickory is too powerful a fuel and prefer fruit woods. . .

              In other words, everybody is going to offer you advice and opinions. Pay attention to what suggestions you elect to, but your future barbecuing success will primarily be shaped by practice. Outside is not an oven. For example, weather factors impact upon your cooking - for me at the Shore, high humidity can add significant time. Winds, too.

              Ultimately, practicing, especially if there is a cooler of beer close by, is the fun. Just don't invite guests the first time you try!

              1. the thing is, you really don't have to cook the pork on the grill the whole time. as others have observed, the meat will only take so much smoke. after 3 hrs or so of smoke at 220, you're mostly just cooking. now if you can keep your weber burning at a really low temp, hats off.

                following the advice of cooks' illustrated, i bring my shoulder inside to the oven after three hrs, cover it and a roasting pan with foil and cook it 2 more hrs at 300 or so. next, put the covered roaster in a big paper bag, crimp it shut and let it cook "ultra low" outside the oven for another hour. when uncovered the meat will still be very hot and will need to rest before you can pull it.

                this method doesn't have the romantic pizzaz of an all-day smoke fest. however, it is based on cooking logic and turns out uniformly good--and smokey--shoulder.

                4 Replies
                1. re: silverhawk

                  I'll second this. I followed the Cooks Illustrated method described above and it came out fantastic. I used soaked Hickory chips and Kingsford coals for the grill.

                  1. re: silverhawk

                    ill second this as well. even some winning competition bbq-ers prefer this method. wrapping in tin foil also gives you an effective braise so that you are efficiantly turning all that collagen into beautiful delicious gelatin.

                    i always smoke a pork butt with a thermometer in it, so i can observe its internal temperature. at some point, it will get stuck around 140-150, and it wont move much for a couple hours. when i reach that temperature, thats when i wrap in foil.

                    1. re: charles_sills

                      It is not necessary to foil the pork for all the collagen to render. However, foiling will mitigate the stall. If I'm doing pulled pork with higher heat, I will foil at the stall, so that the outer meat does not dry out while it is forging ahead internally. If I'm doing a true low-and-slow, I'll just leave it cook until it's done.

                      1. re: bagofwater

                        i didnt mean to imply that the foil method is the ONLY way that works, rather that it is an efficient way.