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Pork Shoulder

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok, i am thinking i might smoke a Pork Shoulder this coming weekend. Any ideas are welcome. Injections, marinade, rubs ???????
post #2 of 23
here's how i do it - others will come along and tell you how they do it. read up on different methods and decide which is right for you.

the night before i do a shoulder (picnic or butt), i brush on a light film of plain, yellow mustard. your pork will NOT taste mustardy when this is all over, but the mustard does aid in the rub clinging to the meat and in my opinion creates a better bark - and you will love bark.

anyway, after the mustard, apply a liberal amount of your favorite rub to all surfaces of the meat. you can use any rub you want, but i recommend one that:

a) has paprika for a nice, rich, red color

b) has a minimum of salt (this is mostly for health reasons but also because if there is too much salt you lose a lot of the other flavors)

c) has eithier a small amount of sugar, no sugar or turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) instead of white or brown sugar. this is because a shoulder takes a long time to cook and somewhere in that time the sugar will go from a beautiful carmelized brown to a very ugly black that tastes fine but looks terrible.

wrap the pork shoulder in saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. to me, it's best for it to sit overnight in rub, but the world will not end if it doesn't. even if you slather and rub it right before it goes on the grill, the world will not end.

before firing up your smoker (it will take time to come to temperature), take your shoulder out of the fridge and let it set for a while, but not more than an hour, to come up a bit in temperature. i prefer to take my straight from fridge to smoker, but i don't recommend this unless one is fairly experienced with good fire tending as creosote formation is a danger. anyway, unwrap your shoulder and, if desired, apply a little more rub all around, then toss it on the grate as your smoker temperature is passing 275 degrees. the smoking chamber will cool down when you open the lid, plus the addition of a big, cold mass of meat will bring the temps down to good smoking temperatures.
pictured here is a picnic shoulder going on the grate:

smoke over your preferred wood at between 240 -250 degrees until you can twist the bone right out of there; this could take a very long time, so allow yourself at least 12 hours. it may not take that long, and it may take a little longer, but if you allow 12 hours, you should be in good shape.

after an hour-and-a-half or so (time enough for the mustard and rub to set), it is suggested that you spray or brush on an oil-based mop in order to keep things moist and provide a bit of a basting effect with the oil in the mop. my favorite and highly-recommended mop that i have developed consists of 1 cup dr. pepper, 2/3 cup LOW SODIUM soy sauce and 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. be sure to zip this through a blender before each use, so as to emulsify the ingredients. it can be sprayed on wtih a spray bottle or brushed on with a basting brush; some folks get those miniture mop-looking things designed for doing dishes.

don't that look nice? and the greek fatty next to it looks pretty good, too!

when it's getting close to done, it will look sorta like this picnic shoulder:

as it gets closer, it is going to get pretty darn dark in some cases, just like these boston butts:

when you figure it is about a 15, maybe 30 minutes or so from being done, you can, if you wish, apply a finishing glaze that will add some nice color and flavor to the bark. please note that this step is not necessary, but can make a good shoulder even better. the best glaze that i've found comes from Danny Gaulden of the BBQFAQ and it is very easy to prepare. combine 1/3 cup EACH of dark brown sugar, yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar in a saucepan. heat on medium, stirring constantly, until everything is well-blended and heated throughout. remove from heat, cover and allow to cool until it is time to brush on the shoulder. my recommendation is to brush it on no more than a half-hour before it is time to remove from the heat, then again just as you are bringing it off the heat. this glaze provides a really nice, deep, cherry-red finish and a good, crackly glaze for any pork.

you are shooting for an internal temperature of about 195-205 degrees. when this temperature has been acheived, double wrap the shoulder in foil, wrap the foiled shoulder in towels and place in an empty cooler for at least a half hour. you can leave it in for as long as 6 hours or as long as the internal temperature is above 140 degrees. this allows the meat to rest and the juices to pull back into the meat. it might also be handy in case the shoulder is ready before it is time to eat. let it rest at least a half hour before removing the foil or your meat that you worked so hard on will lose its juces and turn an ugly brown color.

when the resting time is done, open the foil and it will pretty much fall apart and be VERY hot. pull the meat apart with your fingers or use a couple of large forks raked across it to shred it to your desired consistency. remove any gristle, fat etc. at the same time.

serve on a plate or on buns using RIVET'S outstanding east-carolina finishing sauce (recipe below). some mix the sauce into the meat, others just pour some on top of the meat as it is served, your choice.

i guarantee results if you do it as described above, but i will stress that the above method is not the ONLY way to do it.
RIVET'S eastern carolina PPB finishing sauce:

Finishing Sauce:
3 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Bottle (12 oz) Killians Irish Red or Guiness Beer
1 TBSP Salt
2 TBSP Red Pepper Flakes
1 TSP Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

Mix all sauce ingredients in saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.

Once pork is pulled and chopped, mix in large bowl with sauce. Serve on buns with coleslaw.


a couple of notes on this: my wife doesn't let me buy good beer, so i tried what was on sale in this recipe; it worked just fine ~ if you don't have any beer in the house, you could probably use water or i would guess just about anything that would cut the acidity of the vinegar a bit - i tried apple juice once instead of beer and it did not work well. in fact, perhaps the best substitute might be the pan and foil juices from the pork shoulder (after defatting). now that i think about it, even if you use the beer, add these juices (after defatting) to the pork as they greatly enhance the flavor

depending on everyone's tolerance for spicy foods, you may want to cut the red pepper flakes in half. i prefer them as written in the recipe, especially once mixed with the other ingredients and the pork - it all balances very well and nothing is too spicy, tart, sweet etc. while this is simmering, it will probably be a bit frightening as the vinegar is of course pretty strong, but stick with it as this sauce is a perfect compliment for PPB!
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
WOW. And WOW again. That looks FANTASTIC. If mine could turn out half that good looking i will be a happy camper. My wife works at a irish restaurant so we always have Guinness in the pantry (one of my favorite beers). Will print this and start preparing. Any idea of the size i should use in my first attempt?? Is a smaller one easier??
post #4 of 23
PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif That is one excellent and detailed write up. Follow it and you won't have any problems at all w/ your smoke.
post #5 of 23
thanks for the kind words, cci - a lot of trial and error in developing that method, but the best advice i can give is to get meat on the grate and put some heat under it. everything else will come with experience!

as far as what to start out with, my advice would be for a butt or picnic shoulder between 7 and 8 lbs. i wouldn't worry too much if it were a little on either side of thse parameters. the reason i say this is because these seem to be about average sizes and it helps to learn on shoulders that are fairly consisten in size. that way, you can not worry about the timing so much and observe what the meat is telling you.

the main thing, though, is to simply start doing it. no need to build up to it or turn it into a science experiment. put your engineering books away - we're cookin' meat here! in my post above there is a link to the BBQFAQ. the ebst advice i can give is to check that FAQ out, read it and apply it as you try a few bbq sessions. it will all be good!

good luck, and be sure to get some q-view posted!
post #6 of 23
Excellent showing of pictures and steps. Something in there for everyone to learn!
post #7 of 23
Great tutorial!
post #8 of 23
Great how-to! And I'm for sure gonna try that finishing sauce! I make one close to that, but I never thought of Guinness in it. Brilliant!
post #9 of 23
Great work! :)
post #10 of 23
Can i nominate you for best and in depth answer to a question i have seen on these boards? I mean, there are sticky's for how to do all this, but wow.

Awesome answer, and great info. Thanks a lot.
post #11 of 23
Let me say that this man knows his barbecue and does it right! Like the fact he prefers my finishing sauce, but that is beside the point- Tas~ can barbecue! You can take his recommendations to the bank. I've tried his recipes and now exclusively use his spritz/mop for anything I smoke.

Good to see you all trying different things, and in this case you will know great barbecue. Good smokes to all you all!
post #12 of 23
Now I would do just what TasunkaWilka said cause I have seen alot of his smokes here and they are really good. The one he's showing you here and now sure looks good
post #13 of 23
Great play by play tas! and don't worry man, the pork shoulder is a pretty forgiving hunk-o-meat, even if you mess up a bit, it still tastes pretty damn good! Good luck with the smoke and don't forget the qview!
post #14 of 23
many thanks to all for the nice words and for the points, but i do have to give credit where credit is due.

at least a third of the credit goes to the BBQFAQ and all the basic fundamentals provided by that document.

another third goes to RIVET and all of his outstanding advice wheile i was doing my first pork shoulder as well as our conversations since then on barbecue and improvements to the basic technique - and of course for that finishing sauce, which is a perfect compliment for barbecued pork.

as for the final third - ok, i'll take that. ;)
post #15 of 23
The BBQFAQ is a great resource.....lots of great information to be found there. I used to read the AFB newsgroup when I first got started in smoking about 12 years ago.

Looking forward to trying that finishing sauce by Rivet.
post #16 of 23
cciusa -

just checking in - everything going alright with preparations for the smoke?
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, i am gonna have to change my plans a little. A very good friend of mine asked me to smoke some baby backs for him for a dinner party on Saturday so i will be doing that instead. But i still really wanna try the shoulder.
post #18 of 23
no reason why you can't do both - invite a couple more friends and have a feast!

but if not, be sure to keep us updated!
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
What ever i smoke i will be sure to post pictures. SOMETHING WILL GET SMOKED !!!!
post #20 of 23

Fantastic thread.  Popping my cherry with this recipe on my Master Forge.

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