I am having a difficult time getting the level of smoke flavor that I want. I'm beginning to think my taste buds are DOA, or my expectations are not realistic.
I have an Amerique that has had 12 - 15 smoking sessions, so it has a decent seasoning. My latest attempt was with two 8lb butts. Going on the theory that meat takes most of its smoke until 140 degrees, I placed them in my freezer for an hour, thinking this will extend this period below 140 degrees. I slathered them with yellow mustard and rub, and filled the woodbox literally to the max with hickory. I started out with a 190 degree cooking temp for 7 hours then upped it 225 when the meat hit 140. I pulled them at 193 degrees, which took 23 hours. I never opened the door until they were done, and smoke was visible out of the vents until the last 3-4 hours or so.
The butts had great bark, which does have a smokey flavor. The meat however does not have any smoke flavoring. It tastes just like I cooked it in the oven. I've taken to pulling the meat, putting it in foil pans and putting it back in the smoker. In 20 minutes it's loaded with smoke flavor, but it doesn't taste exactly right to me.
I guess my question is, should the smoke be able to penetrate beyond the level of the bark? I know it isn't going to penetrate all the way to the bone, but what should I be able to expect.
As a side note, I've done butts at higher cooker temps, thinking the higher heat would create more smoke, but the results have been similar.
I appreciate your thoughts.