Also, I'll be smoking in around 25 DegF outside temperature. Is there anything I should do differently with it being so cold outside?
I did one recently. Removed the netting right off the bat, even before the rub. didn't have any trouble, and actually made for more surface area to rub once I "opened up" the roast a bit. It all held together nicely on the smoker and fell apart nicely on the pan when pulling time came.
The pork shoulder picnic is the lower portion of the whole shoulder comprising the fore leg and supporting muscles:
Inside that piece is 3 bones, primarily the humerus attached to the blade bone and shank bone, both cut off:
As you can see, the structure of the bones is rather complicated and removing these from the carcass of the cut requires quite a few knife cuts to do so. As the animal is dead and there's no incentive to be very 'neat' in its surgical removal and you're given about 30 seconds or less to remove the bones, the related musculature gets a little diced, but it's not an intentional "hack job" of the meat; it's a difficult bone to remove and still leave intact as much musculature as you can and remove as little as possible. You have to leave the cut whole, you cannot separate the muscle groups and 'put them back together' in a net or with hand-tying (separate pieces) as that leads to illegal practices of combining dissimilar cuts into a roast (for example in beef using an outer shell of a whole round steak with a chunk of neck or shank inside, those kinds of practices have been banned since the 60's).
But, netting or hand tying or skewering are all options if you want the resulting roast to be relatively whole when finished like this:
vs. loose, like this:
If you're going to pull it and don't need the presentation qualities of a rolled roast, pull the net off and smoke loose. If you're serving it for dinner, you may rather leave it on up until bark starts forming or even all the way through; you can slice the roast with the netting on, then clip it and it will shrink off the slice easily or you pull the netting off and it pulls the bark off too but you shake it out and it still adds back flavor to your pulled or sliced product..
Either way it doesn't harm the cooking process.
I bought one of these boneless picnics to smoke today (New Year's Eve...in the 30's here on the Mason Dixon line), and I didn't know what to do with the netting. I did a search, and found this thread. Being an outdoor cooking enthusiast, I joined the forum.
The netting on my cut was elastic! I didn't want even the slightest hint of burned plastic smell or taste on the meat, so I cut it off. With a little TLC, I slathered some mustard and put dry rub on it, and it held together just fine.
It's a 4 pound cut...been cooking for a few hours now, and so far, all's OK!
I've changed my Avatar to show the finished picnic...turned out great! Fantastic bark, famtastic flavor...no netting required.
I'm looking forward to the spring, when the days are longer (took a little more than 7 hours to cook these 4 pounds and didn't finish until after dark), and the temps more condusive to smoking in my kettle grill (until I get a real smoker)!