Smoking Meat While Holding a Screaming Baby

Updated on May 1, 2019
Lukestclair profile image

Luke is an appraiser in Texas and has been playing video games and reading comic books since childhood. He's a bearded family man in plaid.

Perfectly smoked and pulled pork shoulder
Perfectly smoked and pulled pork shoulder

Preface to a Savory Escape

Becoming a parent was and still is the highlight of my life. The joy that children can bring is unfathomable. But then there are days where the baby won't let you sit down without screaming while her older brother asks me questions about who Pikachu's parents were and what does the inside of a pokeball look like.

Here are a few tips on how to smoke a pork shoulder with a toddler on your hip who won't nap.

Here's a pork shoulder, fresh from my local grocery store.
Here's a pork shoulder, fresh from my local grocery store.

Instructions: Overview (Details Below)

  1. Brine your meat. Prepare a brine by mixing 1 cup of salt into 4-5 cups of water. Leave the brining meat in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
  2. Dry meat off. Add a rub or seasoning (optional).
  3. Get your smoker preheated and smoky before placing meat inside. Add more wood chips when necessary.
  4. If using the Texas Crutch method, wrap up barbecue in butcher paper or aluminum foil when temps hit 150-160 degrees and put back in smoker.
  5. When temperature of meat reaches desired doneness, remove from smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes to ensure juiciness. Eat and be merry, for tomorrow you may be sleep-deprived!

1. Start the Process Before the Screaming

Always brine your pork or poultry for at least eight hours. It's easy and extremely effective. All you need is some salt and water. A good brine adds flavor and moisture to meat before it's cooked. There are very complex brines that include honey and molasses, but for the busy parent just throw that pork or poultry in some salty water and you will reap the juicy, flavorful benefits later.

I use one cup of pink Himalayan sea salt and around 4 cups of water in a large plastic bag that won't leak salty pork juice in my fridge. This not only tenderizes the meat but it also puts extra moisture into the meat, saving you from eating tough, dry barbecue. Leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

This step is nice to do when your kids are distracted, especially when your 15-month-old wants to drop your phone in the dog's water bowl because Baby Shark wasn't playing again for the twelfth time in twelve minutes.

Brining meat is crucial for flavor and juiciness and the bag in a bowl method is crucial for keeping a clean refrigerator in case of messy spills.
Brining meat is crucial for flavor and juiciness and the bag in a bowl method is crucial for keeping a clean refrigerator in case of messy spills.

2. Get a Good Thermometer/Probe

These thermometers will help save your barbecue from turning into something with the texture resembling your dad's braided belt. What's great about the electric smoker/thermo probe combination is the low maintenance factor. There are even some with a wireless second screen so you can regulate your smoked meat while your kids are literally emptying their entire dresser trying to find a glove that might be in the toilet. I use this when I'm grilling chicken breast or making baked potatoes to make sure my food is ready and safe to eat.

I use a ThermoPro TP-07; it's accurate and easy to use. I gave one to my father-in-law for Christmas. Smoking times vary depending on weight and preference. This is why I depend so much on my ThermoPro because internal temperature is the best way to know if it's fully cooked.

3. Dry. Season. Preheat.

After being in a brine for any amount of time, take it out of the bag and dry it off with a towel or let it air dry in your fridge. I use a paper towel because it's quicker.

While the meat is drying, get your smoker hot and, well, smoky. When I smoke pork, I preheat to 225 degrees with a combination of hickory and apple wood chips.

As the smoker gets ready, it's time to season. I use a homemade rub that has garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, coriander, and chili powder. Season all the sides on the meat. Use a little or a lot, it's a matter of preference.

After being in a brine for 12 hours, the pork is ready to be smoked. My smoker is set at 225 degrees with some hickory wood chips.
After being in a brine for 12 hours, the pork is ready to be smoked. My smoker is set at 225 degrees with some hickory wood chips.

3. The Stall

When your barbecue has reached the temperature of about 150-160 degrees, it is in what pitmasters call "the stall." The internal temperature might not increase for hours at a time, which might not be conducive to dinner plans and sleep-schedules. Now there are two options for you.

  • Keep it in the smoker until it reaches optimal temperature
  • the Texas Crutch.

If you don't mind waiting 12+ hours, then by all means leave it in the smoker. Your end results will be a smoky masterpiece. You might be awake all night anyway because the baby's mouth decided to grow all of the molars at once.

I use the Texas crutch method. When my barbecue hits the stall, I take it out of the smoker and wrap it in either aluminum foil or butcher paper. The wrap speeds up the cooking process with practically no sacrifice to flavor. Butcher paper allows some smoke penetration while foil does not.

Afterwards, just put your thermometer probe back in and place your meat back into the smoker to finish up the cooking process. You can even finish it off in the oven!

The pork has been in the smoker for almost 6 hours. A good amount of crust, or bark, is visible. Once it hits the stall, it's time to wrap it in butcher paper.
The pork has been in the smoker for almost 6 hours. A good amount of crust, or bark, is visible. Once it hits the stall, it's time to wrap it in butcher paper.

4. Be Sure That It's Done

If you want to turn your smoked pork into pulled pork, you have to know when it's ready. 200-205 degrees is the magical temperature for pork. For chicken, as long as the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, it is safe to eat. If the kids get food poisoning from a smoked chicken leg, they might never eat anything but chicken nuggets and Goldfish crackers for the minimum of eleven years.

The pork shoulder is done at the perfect temperature of 203 degrees and it's ready for a little nap in it's aluminum security blanket for at least ten minutes.
The pork shoulder is done at the perfect temperature of 203 degrees and it's ready for a little nap in it's aluminum security blanket for at least ten minutes.

5. Let it Rest!

We all want to just tear into that barbecue as soon as it comes out of the smoker, but resist! Letting it rest will save all the juices that your brine put into it. Just wrap your new smoky baby in some butcher paper or aluminum foil and let it nap for at the least ten minutes. That will give your kids time to find all 5 sippy cups that they've lost in the time that your pork has been smoked to perfection.

It's time to pull that pork and eat! You've earned it!
It's time to pull that pork and eat! You've earned it!

6. The Final Step

Eat it! You've followed all the steps and you are reaping the smoky fruits of your labor. The prep work has paid off with some juicy barbecue that will feed your whole family. Put it on a bun with some pickle slices! Warm up some corn tortillas and eat it carnitas-style! Eat it over the kitchen sink with your bare hands like a wild opossum because you're a parent trying to stay alive!

Just be aware that if you give your kids some, they will not appreciate the hard work you've put into their dinner and just feed it to the dogs under the table.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Stina Caxe profile image

        Cristina Cakes 

        2 months ago from Virginia

        You are funny and that looks delicious.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)