Following all the great advice Iíve received as best I could, here is my resulting report. Saturday night I rubbed the roast and stuck it back in the fridge. Sunday morning, in preparation for starting the fire, I layered my pan with coal. Then I dug out a hole on one side as a spot to place the coals from my chimney starter. I spread my wood chips throughout.
I loaded the chimney, lit it up, and dumped it in my designated spot. Right away I got a ton of smoke, which I assume is normal. What I later realized was that a lot of that smoke was probably my wood chips burning up. Iím pretty sure using chunks instead of chips would have helped me out a lot, but thatís all that was available to me at the time.
I placed the roast on the grate at 8am. I gave it a really thick rub, much more than if I were prepping something for grilling.
Mostly, I battled two things: consistent smoke and consistent temp. While I attribute the temp problems to my rig, the inconsistent smoke was from my inexperience. I struggled with the wood chips burning up almost instantly. So, thanks to the vast resources Iíve read here on the forum, I knew there were at least two ways to combat this - I could soak the chips or place them in foil. First, I tried the foil. That seemed to work a bit better, and the smoke would start slightly slower, but I still had a huge surge of smoke in less than 10 minutes.
After the surge, there was no wood smoke. I pulled out the foil and replaced it with some soaked chips in foil. That gave a much slower smoke and was the best I could get out of these tiny chips. Unfortunately, I didnít figure out the frequency I needed to replace them (which I felt was very often) until I was about half way through the cook. As a result, the pork seemed roasted instead of smoked.
For the first 100 minutes or so, the temp held very well and I was feeling good about things, and then the cooker starting cooling off. I knew there was no way that the coal I had in the pan was spent yet, even with the ash buildup issue of the Smoke ĎN Grill. I peaked in the door, and sure enough, all the briquettes were greyed over and about half were sitting in ash. I tried to raise the temp back up by adding a few fresh briquettes and sifting the ash towards the bottom of the pan. With the small clearance below the water pan though, this was difficult.
As it turns out, besides the lack of ventilation control, steadying the temperature of the fire for any more than 30 minutes was nearly impossible. There were spurts where it stabilized on 220į or 230į, but for the most part I had to tend it. Iíd check it about every 20 minutes or so, and almost every time Iíd need to vent off a little heat or stir the fire to boost the temp.
Despite the temp fluctuations, it was still a hot grate and the meat was cooking. I threw on two fatties at 10am. I jammed it all onto the top grate, which proved to be a small mistake. The drippings from one of the fatties were too close to the edge and missed the drip pan all together, falling straight onto the ground.
I was able to pull the fatties for lunch, which was a bit after noon. One was plain Jimmy Deanís, the other was a spicy Tennessee Pride with bell pepper and a zucchini we needed to use.
The roast finally came off at 4pm. I foiled and toweled it in a cooler for about 70 minutes. Then I let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes. When I cut it, the meat looked ok, but it was much harder to pull than I anticipated. The center was a pale white-grey color and the outer edges had a ring of pinkish red. If I had to guess, Iíd say that I overcooked it slightly. What I donít understand though is why the edges were the tenderest. Could it be that I left it in the cooler too long, as it cooked from the inside out?
Iíve written all this up in order to bring my portion of this thread to some kind of completion. Iíve focused on the mistakes of my first cook to get help for next time and also to provide a reference to other first-timers. Although Iím calling out the things that went wrong, I enjoyed the day and we still had a good dinner. My wife made up some homemade beans and weíve got plenty of leftovers. Thanks again guys for all your help, and I'll gladly accept any more that you can provide.