Well,I'm no expert ,but I do cook with some.
A lot of fine cooks above have given good tips,and there is a bunch to consider.
It is easy to get overwhelmed.
Another tip is don't practice anything, first time on a crowd.
There ain't no learning curve on a butt.
Prep/breakin your cooker ,as given in the instructions.
Find something fatty ,like a butt,or about 3 lbs of cheap hamburgers to cook ,to finish the seasoning.
Find you a therm and check the temps with the tip in boiling water ,212* and freezing,32*.
Within 2-4* will work.
When you season the cooker,put the probe through a ball of tinfoil and lay on the center rack.
Run the cooker at 250*,and see what the therm temp averages over awhile.
Should be around 250-average.
Ignore temp swings.
Don't use an extension,unless as heavy as the CS cord.
Also,pick up an instaread therm-for final checking.
Now there are lots of techniques,so I'll give you one that works for me.
Simple Pork Butt
Go to Costco/Sam's,etc and get a 2 pk of non solution added butts that weighs about 14-16 lbs total.
You want bonein!!!
Go to wallyworld,or most major groceries and get a box/bag of turbinado sugar.[often comes in a brown box as Sugar in the Raw.]
Pick up a quart of apple cider and the ingredients for Smokin's mop.
At least a six pk of cold drinks,and a can of Pam spray.
A pair of neoprene,or heavy rubber gloves to lift hot meats with.
Take a bottle of rub that comes with your cooker,and dump 6-8 oz in a bowl and an equal amount of turbinado sugar.
Take butts out of refrig,a couple hrs,or more, before cooking and pat/rub as much of this mix as they will hold.
Put in a disposable Al pan,or wrap in plastic wrap and back in the refig.
Make Smokin's mop/sauce.
Get cooker ready.
I set it closer to 235*,than 225* with only two butts.
Be sure the cooker is cooking at the set temp.
Take out the bottom rack and add 4-6 oz of wood.
I like hickory,or applewood.
Spray remaining racks with Pam.
Take butts from refrig.
They will be wet,so pack as much more rub on them as they will hold.
Set your side racks so they aren't in the highest position.
Put butts on two top racks.
Put temp probe in smaller butt.
Don't let it touch bone,or rest in a fat pocket.
Plan on 2 hrs/lb on the largest butt,so you can schedule serving.
Run probe through the top vent hole,or just close the door on it.
Don't open door,until 195* internal.
Have a small dry cooler,lined with neswpaper-or real old towels standing ready.
Remove butts,lay on doubled Al foil.
Spray ,until wet, with Smokin's mop,or apple juice and wrap tightly.
Wrap in old towels and place in cooler/hotbox.
They will hold 4-8 hrs,usually.
You want at least 2-3 hrs.
20 mins before serving,open foil-save juices.
Discard bone and fat .
Pull/ shred to size you like.
Add a little of Smokin's mop for moisture ,and mix in some of your rub mixture to taste.
This may not get you in the money at your first contest,but it will be the best your brother ever tasted.
Serve with a couple sauces on the side.
If your serving pan starts to get dry,mix in a little 50/50 apple juice and bbq sauce.
Hope this helps a little.
Okay Gang, Our last adventure today in Pulled Pork is a Vinegar Based Sauce. I've used this as a baste/mop, as a finishing sauce (finishing to me is putting the sauce on during the last hour) and also a serving sauce. Kick up the heat a notch in this one if you like:
Smokin Okies Vinegar Mop for Pulled Pork
(also called an Eastern Carolina Sauce)
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 tablespoons salt (I like the flavor in Kosher/Sea Salt and bigger granules)
2 tablespoon red pepper (crushed)
1 teaspoon cayenne (I've also used Hungarian Paprika)
Don't need to cook this sauce, just combine, let sit overnight. Put this on your Butt, it'll go wild
Now I better get out of here,before I'm accused of makin' a Smokin/Okie post.