Balancing Act

Classic Pulled Pork – First Overnight Low ‘n Slow with the iKAMAND

I purchased the iKAMAND smart temperature controller and monitoring device strictly for low and slow cooking and barbecue on our Kamado Joe Classic II. If I’m smoking anything for over 3 hours, I will delegate the job to the iKAMAND. We live in an area where we get a daily afternoon breeze blowing from the west with wind speed peaking from an average of 8 mph to between 12 mph and 20-25 mph for up to 3 hours. While the breeze starts daily at 4:00 PM, sporadic overnight windy conditions do occur. With low and slow cooking, this means either start really early in the morning where the wind is stable for the most part, or babysit the vents every 15 minutes. Since I am a family guy and value my time, I prefer not to check the Kamado Joe’s dome temperature every 15-30 minutes and rather use that time to play with my son or wrap up other projects.

For our iKAMAND’s overnight maiden voyage, we decided we want classic pulled pork sandwiches on our lunch and dinner menu. We followed the classic pulled pork recipe by Chef Tom of All Things Barbecue. All Things Barbecue and Atlanta Grill Company are where I order all of my BBQ rubs, sauces and Kamado Joe accessories online, not from Amazon. Great small businesses with excellent customer service with wide selection of grills, accessories, unique rubs and sauces. You’ll probably find that most of their rubs and sauces are better priced than from Amazon.

The 7.54 lb pork butt we picked up was prepared at 7:00 PM on a Friday night, cleaned, washed, and mopped with a one part apple cider vinegar to one part water mixture.

Prepping the 7.54 lb pork butt for some classic pulled pork sandwiches!

Prepping the 7.54 lb pork butt for some classic pulled pork sandwiches!

The pork butt was then generously injected with Smoke on Wheels Pork Injection & Marinade and then completely rubbed down with Plowboys  BBQ Yardbird rub. I allowed the pork butt to dry brine with the rub and marinade injection overnight on a cooling rack atop of half-sheet baking tray and in the fridge for close to 24 hours.

Injecting the pork butt with Smoke on Wheels pork marinade.

Injecting the pork butt with Smoke on Wheels pork marinade.

Rubbed the pork butt with Plowboys Yardbird rub before putting it in the fridge to set overnight, 24 hours.

Pork butt rubbed with Plowboys Yardbird rub and allowed to sweat before putting it in the fridge to set overnight, ~24 hours.

The following day, Saturday, I took out the pork butt at 4:00 PM and sat it on the kitchen counter to allow it to gradually reach room temperature and then started stoking the Kamado Joe at 4:30 PM for low and slow. I created a mound of lump charcoal in the fire box using a Kamado Joe charcoal basket and threw in three apple wood chunks and one hickory wood chunk for smoke.

Three apple wood chunks and one hickory chunk.

Three apple wood chunks and one hickory chunk.

I partially buried a Kamado Joe fire starter in the center of the charcoal mound and lit it on fire and waited 10 minutes until the charcoal is lit and the fire starter is spent. The hickory wood chunk was placed directly over lit charcoal and the remaining three were placed in a triangular formation half-way between the center and the rim of the fire box. I also left the original Kamado Joe charcoal grate inside the fire box.

On the iKAMAND, the pit temperature was dialed in at 225º F while Probe 1 food temperature probe in the pork butt was set to 205º F.

iKAMAND dialed in at 225º F.

iKAMAND dialed in at 225º F.

iKAMAND dialed in at 225º F.

Meat Probe 1 set to 205º F.

Meat Probe 1 set to 205º F.

Following John Setzler’s instruction video for low and slow, I opened the Kontrol Tower vent 25% past the first mark:

I closed the vent on the iKAMAND unit to 50%:

A few things I did differently from Chef Tom’s recipe was I’ve added an aluminum drip pan on the Kamado Joe heat deflectors set at the lowest position of the Divide and Conquer system and filled it with Dr. Pepper until the drip pan was 3/4 full.

Drip pan filled 3/4 full with water and Dr. Pepper.

Drip pan filled 3/4 full with water and Dr. Pepper.

I also elected NOT to wrap the pork butt at 155º F and allowed it to cruise through the night until its internal temperature reached 205º F.

The pork butt, still chilled, was placed on the grill grate at approximately 5:30 PM after the center of the charcoal bed is fully lit. A temperature probe was inserted into the pork butt and the ambient temperature probe set on the grill grate.

To protect the extension cord from unexpected moisture, I routed the extension cord outlet and the iKAMAND’s AC adapter through a medium size SOCKiTBOX.

SockitBox waterproof outdoor extension cord and power strip protector.

SockitBox waterproof outdoor extension cord and power strip protector.

Lights out at 1:00 AM.

The general time and temperature guideline for cooking pork butt low and slow between 225º F and at 250º F is 1.5 to 2 hours per pound or until internal temperature reaches 195~205º F, so my 7.54 lb pork butt that was still mildly chilled when it hit the grill should technically be done between 9:30 AM~11:00 AM the following morning.

Fire it up. Slow it down.

Fire it up. Slow it down.

iKAMAND stoking the fire.

iKAMAND stoking the fire.

Lights out at 1:00 AM.

Lights out at 1:00 AM.

We live in an area that experience a daily breeze that starts at 4:00 PM and lasts until 7:00 PM, sometime later, and something sporadic windy conditions continues overnight. These windy conditions bring wind speed between 12 mph – 25 mph, so I was not surprised when the temperature overshot and then fluctuated for the first hour and a half into the cook. The pit temperature finally stabilized 2 hours later, around 7:43 PM. Once the temperature stabilized, the pit temperature hovered between 219ºF and 225ºF.

The first 3.5 hour our the pork butt cook.

The first 3.5 hour our the pork butt cook.

The pork butt’s internal temperature continued to rise steadily until around 11:30 PM when it hit the infamous stall at 145º F. The internal temperature decreased to 140º F and the stall continued for 8 hours, holding the internal temperature at 140º F. The internal temperature finally continued to rise at 7:30 AM.

So during the cook, there was a temporary power outage at around 10:30 AM and I later learned that there was a server outage at Desora, the operator / developer of the iKAMAND cloud servers. During this period, I was not able to establish server-client communication with iKAMAND, thus for about 2 hours, I was not able to control it.

During this period of incommunicado, I could not “REMOVE” the pork from the iKAMAND temperature monitoring, nor could I stop the iKAMAND. I tried logging out and re-installing the app to no avail. Fortunately, I was able to control the iKAMAND again later and I used it to smoke beef short ribs in the evening.

So, for the remaining two hours of the cook, I whipped out the iGrill2 thermometer and cruised along manually. By then, the wind has died down. I kicked up the temperature to 275º F to speed up the cooking and the butt was ready by 12:00 PM.

The pork butt was then removed from the Kamado Joe:

It was then tightly double wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil and wrapped again with washcloth then placed in a small hand cary lunch cooler to rest for an additional 2 hours.

While the pork butt was resting in the cooler, I prepared the coleslaw as detailed by Chef Tom’s recipe and placed it covered in the fridge for the flavors to come together.

After 2 hours, I removed the pork butt from its foil casing, shoulder blade discarded and the pork butt was carefully shredded with a pair of forks.

The remaining pork butt was shredded with a pair of fork and an equal parts, 1 cup each, of warmed up Blues Hog Original BBQ Sauce and Blues Hog Tennessee Red BBQ Sauce mixed into the shredded meat.

Ciabatta bread halves were buttered up and tossed onto the Kamado Joe for quick toasting before building the sandwiches. To build the sandwich, I placed a copious amount of shredded pork on the bottom bun, followed by generous amount of slaw and then topped off with the top ciabatta bun.

I’ve had a lot of pulled pork sandwiches in my life and this is definitely the best one in my book. Part of the great taste comes from the pride of smoking the pork butt and building the sandwiches myself.

Here is the remnant of the charcoal lump from the overnight, 18 hour smoke session. The lump charcoal I used was Western Hardwood Lump 30 lb. bag, available exclusively at Walmart.

My next overnight low and slow project will be smoking a brisket!

 

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