I've been doing BBQ for a couple of years now with my UDS. I don't use water pan or heat deflector. I've tried them, but didn't like the results.
I've been mostly doing pulled pork from whole pork necks since pork butt is not available here. It has nice fat and marbling and it's been working out for me just fine. They are around 4.5 - 5 pounds a piece.
For the first year I did my pulled pork low & slow at around 225-250 for about 11-13 hours till internal was about 198-200, no foil. They were fantastic. Some of them I injected, some of them I didn't. There were some minor differences in quality, but nothing major.
Lately I've been experimenting with hot & fast at around 300-325 for about 5-6 hours, foiling when the color is right (usually around 165-170). Then I've taken the meat to around 198-200 and unwrapped & returned to smoker for a short while to make the bark more crispy. These I've been mostly injecting.
The first hot & fast experiments were success, I would even say one those cooks was way better than any low & slow I've done.
But now I've got a big problem, only one the last five or six cooks has been successful.
Most of them have been very dry and tough, I've even had hard time pulling some of them. I've taken some of them to 205 and it didn't help.
I'm wondering if I've cooked them too long? However it seems that the overall consensus is that overcooked pulled pork would be mushy, not dry...?
I've tried to probe for tenderness, but I don't have enough experience to rely on feel. I would say the probe went in almost like butter in most places, but on some places it had quite a bit of resistance. Also, when pulled, the neck had some small parts that very quite moist and tender, but one muscle on the side was quite dry.
Should I place my meter always on the same muscle of the neck?
I have no clue what I'm doing wrong, since I'm keeping meticulous notes about every cook and I don't see anything weird...
I've even done two cooks with identical temps, procedures and injections. The other one was fantastic and the other one horribly dry. The successful one was from better meat, though. It was very pretty piece of meat with lots of marbling.
I've checked my UDS temp meters, they are quite accurate (checked with PT-100 sensor). However I'd had some fluctuation in temps, they've been between 290 and 350 for the whole cook. Could that little fluctuation cause bad results?
I've also tried low & slow again, but the results weren't any better. Ended up with dry and chewy pork. Getting a bit desperate here