I cooked two pork butts yesterday and documented the cooking times and cooking temperatures. From studying the graph I found it interesting how long it took the pork butts to start heating up.
Some contest cooks prefer to allow the meat to set out at room temperature for a period of time to allow the meat to warm up. The theory is that allowing the meat to reach room temperature before cooking allows the spice rub to penetrate deeper into the meat. Although it might be true, I do not subscribe to that process and caution you against using that technique. Allowing meat to "set out" like that opens up the possibility for contamination and spoilage. Remember: Meat should spend no more than 4 hours in the "danger zone" (above 40 degrees and under 140 degrees).
I removed the butts directly from the refrigerator at a temperature just above freezing and placed them on the cooker immediately . The cooker did not start to pull the cold out of the meat until the cooker temperature began to reach 200 degrees.
I've concluded that cold meat actually helps aid in the formation of a smoke ring. I believe that the slower you warm up the meat in the cooker once the "smoking process" starts, the better the resulting smoke ring. I think the smoke ring is more pronouced and more visible when using this technique versus the "room temperature" strategy.