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So, I've decided I'm going to try a pork shoulder joint as a first time trial run on my bbq. Looking at the space I have to work with in my grill, the snake method of a long burn probably wont work. I think I'll need to have a small pile that I top up from time to time. How much coal briquettes am I likely to need as in a couple of kilos or a whole bag? how long roughly should a shoulder take at the 225F sweet spot? 

I know there's probably a lot of variables with these questions but a rough guide would be handy. Will I need to set my alarm clock for like 3am to start the cooking lol?

All help greatly appreciated.


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HI Dean, 

Could you try and do a snake version but using an L shape instead of a U or rainbow curve. With a snake it can be any shape even maze as long as the coals have some barrier (Space/wall) to stop them all catching. With the L you could put the pork in a corner and use a tray/ pan with water/sand under. When its getting to the end you could move the coals and reload to the other side. I know from looking at your pics you don't look like you have alot of room. 

TBH you could smoke for a few hours  wrap then finish the meat in the oven or move along to the gas side. 

As for 3am it depends when you plan on eating. A couple kg can be done inside 8 hrs easy. Especially if you wrap and push through the stall in a oven/gas side as you can put more heat. It depends on how much smoke/bark you want. 

I always find I need more coal than I think, so i prefer to overload and shut down vents at the end to reuse later. 

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Great advice, thanks. Its going to be a lot of trial and error, just want to set myself up for success as best I can. I've got a thermometer and 8kg of aussie heat beads on order. I'll give it a go with a small joint when everything arrives and post the results. 

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Yeah best way to learn is by doing. When I started I kept a small logbook of how my cooks went (there's a smokers journal in the instruction booklet). Recorded start time, temp vents etc. I found it handy in the beginning as the next cook as i could change a few variables  such as vents of amount of fuel put in and discover the results. I'd also add that the first few cooks will be more difficult to control as the WSM builds up some carbon. Best advice I can give is make one adjustment and give it a good 10-15 mins to recover/change then adjust as necessary. Pork is a good starter meat as it really forgiving.  I started with ribs and chicken drummers. 

Be sure to take pics, we do like those. Though remember if your looking you ain't cooking 😃

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absolutely, I prefer to use wood chunks i just add them direct to coals. Wood chips can be added but it's best to soak in water for at least 30 mins to stop them catching too quickly. I usually make a small foil parcel and put my chips in them after i have poked some holes in the top. usually a wee packet of chips will give you about 30 mins at the most smoke depending on how filled it is and how soaked they are. obviously drain off first.

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