starting with thinly-sliced pork shoulder

Discussion in 'Pork' started by thinblueduke, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    I live in Japan, and most of the affordable meat that I see at the supermarket is already sliced.  Every once in a while, I head to Costco for a 4-to-5-pounder, or I'll find something nearby at about a pound or so, but sometimes, all I can find is sliced, like this:

    I've cooked this in the crock pot before, but I strongly prefer cooking outdoors on my ECB.  I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions for smoking/grilling this.  I'll probably give it a shot tomorrow.  Here's what I have at my disposal:



    crock pot

    plenty of lump and Kingsford blue

    butane culinary torch

    a 15" gardening grate to keep anything from falling through:


    cherry chunks/logs

    hickory chips (very fine)

    hickory pressed sawdust bricks (suitable for cold smoking)

    1.5 lbs. of thinly-sliced pork shoulder (not as well-marbled as the stuff in the photo, unfortunately)

    plenty of ingredients for sauces and rubs

    My first idea is to coat it with my usual rub, maybe shake-n-bake style, then spread it out over the grate, smoke it at 225-250 over a water pan, lump and cherry, spritzing with apple juice often.  The problem is, it'd be near impossible to cook to a particular temperature, right?  I'd have to go by sight alone.  Any ideas?  I'm really hoping to make this work.  I'd like to make sandwiches out of this, if possible.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
    bobank03 likes this.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just saw this thread and it is over three days old. 

    Hmmmm, I've never smoked meat like that, but I'll step up to the plate and take a swing.  Here's a couple of ideas of what I'd do if that's all I had available. 

    First idea, reassemble it.  You can buy elastic netting online that is used to pack meat.  Pack it all tightly back together in the netting so you have one hunk of meat again.  My grocer sells boneless pork butts like that.  Then prep the chunk-o-sliced pork shoulder pieces like you would a boneless pork butt and smoke it to an IT of 203-205F.    

    Second idea is kind of like the Porter Stout Beef recipe.  I'd braise it in the smoker to make pulled pork not too far off from the process you described above.  I'd dump the meat in a big bowl, cover lightly with EVOO, then lightly apply my rub.  Into the smoker on the grate you have at 225F with heavy smoke for say 30 minutes for smoke flavor, wet smoking with a water pan.  Those thin slices could dry out quickly so I'd be careful about smoking them too long.  Then I'd have a pan of onions, peppers, and 12 oz of apple cider.  Dump the meat in the pan with the veggies and liquid, cover, crank the temp on the smoker up to 275-300, and braise for 1-3 hours, checking occasionally for the meat falling apart.  Shred the pork into the veggies and cook uncovered until the juices reduce significantly.  You could actually do the last part with the veggies and liquid on the stove or in an oven.   

    Ooooh, another idea is you could also mix a little ground pork with the raw meat for a binder then prep it like a fattie and do a bacon weave to hold it together. Don't know if that would work or not but heck, give it a try.  Take it to an IT of say 200F.

    That's it.  That's all I got.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  3. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Good timing... I had just pulled this pork back out of the freezer when I saw your reply.

    I ended up dry-brining and rubbing 3 trays of the pork (1/2 lb each), then taking a somewhat fattie approach.  I stuffed them into the bottom of a ziploc bag, then sucked out as much air as possible while trying to achieve a roundish shape.  It ended up measuring out to about 10" long and 3" in diameter.

    If I can find some string, I'll try to tie it up, but either way, I'm going to smoke it next to another piece of shoulder with about the same dimensions.  I'll probably go for a nice-looking bark, then either wrap it and bring it inside to the crock pot or electric oven, or wrap it and switch to butane on the ECB.

    I'm *hoping* the dry brining, followed by freezing the meat, will create more of a bond then I'd otherwise get.  I've been wondering whether adding something like cornstarch to the rub might make a good binder, but we'll see how this goes first.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  4. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    I'm sitting here... I've got the string to do this. Bought some a couple of weeks ago in case I needed to tie up some meat. Lot of good that does you. I like the direction you are going in. Sort of a Frankenstein fattie... I think you could still use mustard to keep the rub on nice?

    I usually add a little bit of brown sugar to my rub for pulled pork, but when I went up into the cabinet there was none in there. As a substitute I used a dark honey, not a lot just an "S" pattern and then rubbed it on the shoulder and then rubbed it up with the spices. Looks like it is doing the job. I think the honey will add a nice amount of sweetness. 

    I will do a thread on mine tomorrow morning. Hoping to get it on the smoker by 7am. 
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You should have no problem finding Transglutaminase since one of the manufacturers is the Japanese company Ajinomoto, the largest manufacturer of MSG in the world. Transglutaminase is better known as " Meat Glue." Sprinkle some on all the pieces and bag as you did. In a short time you will have a solid log that looks and cooks like a single roast. Really cool stuff and you will never have to worry about sliced meat ever again...JJ

    For info purposes... 
    thinblueduke likes this.
  6. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Wow, good to know!  My dry brining is a very fine mixture of salt and white pepper that the Japanese call shio-koshou (salt-pepper).  The container says that it also contains "amino acid," which I'm pretty sure is code for MSG.  I put that on first, then added my own little rub, which does include store-brand ajinomoto (in Japan, ajinomoto refers to both the company and their most popular product, MSG).    I will try to get ahold of some TG if the first round doesn't stick together well.

    I like the mustard idea, but for now, I'd like to establish a baseline, then work from there.

    Thanks, guys!  I'll make sure to post some Q-view.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  7. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    Are you going to post your smoke here or on a different thread? 
    Meat Glue? Now I've just about heard it all, lol. 
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    TBD, morning...... Because the meat had been sliced, you should cook it to an IT of 145-150.... all of the surfaces have been exposed to bacteria..... Most folks do eat pork at that temp anyway, but just a reminder.....
    When cooking beef and using "meat glue", I don't advise eating it rare... same deal with the bacteria... well done only.....
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There is no need to be Paranoid about Bacteria and Cooking Temps as long as you have an understanding of Food Safety and knowing that, the recommended Internal Temperatures (IT) of 160 to 165°F, for meat that is not intact, is for the instant death of bacteria. This IT provides a broad margin of Safety for inexperienced cooks that have little, if any, understanding of Food Safety and proper handling.This includes purchasing from a reputable Butcher, properly storing the meat and if frozen, defrosting under refrigeration, then handling and preparing the meat with clean and sanitary hands, tools and in a clean work space.The types of bacteria that cause foodborne illness are also killed at MUCH lower temps if held there for specific periods of time. These are based on the IT you cook to and the amount of time you need to hold that temp to kill the bacteria. If this was not possible there would be no such thing as cooking ground meat or cut and formed meat into products such as Sous Vide Sausage and Sous Vide Paté or Terrines. For instance, if you decide to use meat glue and want to cook to temps lower than "Well Done" like Medium, a finished IT of 140°F, it is Safe to do so. Once you get the meat to an IT of 135°F, pull the meat and let carryover raise the meat to 140°F. Then it is just a matter of holding the meat at 140°F for 16 minutes or longer. This concept is not new and, other than the redistribution of juices, is the reason Resting meat is so important. There are various sources and studies that discuss holding at IT's to kill bacteria at temps lower than 165 but the info I provided is based on the studies printed in Food Safety Magazine. These are recognized experts in the Food Safety industry. Here is a great article on the subject of killing Bacteria and still eating meats that are cooked less than Well Done and supports the info above...JJ
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  10. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Good question... I usually just post to the ECB group, but this topic is a bit more general-interest, I suppose.

    Here's the zombie after outer rub and refrigeration (the larger one is the zombie, the smaller one is a partial pork shoulder with the collar):

    And right after putting them on the grill:

    Will post another pic when the shoulder hits 140 IT.
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Okay, NOW this is getting interesting!!!!  Those look yummy.  Did they stay together or fall apart?
  12. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Here they are at 140 IT on the shoulder.  I'm resisting the temptation to spritz.

    Holding together better than expected.

  13. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks like it is holding together nicely!
  14. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Didn't have much of a stall, but the charcoal and cherry started to die out at around 180° IT, so I brought them inside and put them in the slow cooker, over a bed of sliced onions, then tented with a little foil to prevent the condensed steam from dripping off of the lid onto the pork.  Unfortunately, the IT kept dropping, so I wrapped them and put them in the oven at 230°, which is where they are as I write this.  Here they are before they went in.  Still completely intact, and I'm a bit surprised.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  15. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    After 60 minutes in the oven at 230° and another 30 minutes at 265° (I got a bit impatient, a.k.a. hungry), the IT was right about 200°.  After taking this photo, I hit it with a butane torch for about 15 seconds to firm up the bark.

    Right now, it's wrapped in a towel, resting comfortably in a cooler for an hour.  Looking forward to pulling it to see what the texture is like.  Also looking forward to eating it, since it's almost 7pm here.
  16. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    Morning TBD! It's 6:30am here in MA. But, I am drooling...looks good so far. Not sure what you will get when you pull them, but it should be interesting. I did a 5lb should yesterday in the pork forum, so you can check that out while you are waiting. 
  17. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    Time for the moment of truth...

    I'd say it turned out pretty well.  Definitely better than I expected.  As you can see, it pulled much differently than a regular shoulder, but the mouthfeel (if I'm using the term correctly) is pretty much the same.  Would I do it again?  Sure, if the sliced pork was cheaper (as in this case), or if a solid cut were unavailable.  I might even try putting together something similar to shawarma, who knows.

    Despite being a little extra work, and the whole concept seeming just a bit unnatural, I actually see a couple of advantages to reassembling a piece of meat like this.  First of all, it allows you to get your rub inside the meat.  Second, you can choose the shape of the meat.  In this case, I went with a log shape, but next time, I might try flattening it out a bit, to increase the amount of bark and to shorten the cooking time.

    Oh, by the way, it was delicious!
  18. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    very nice, looks like that worked out pretty well. Nice job!
  19. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This was one of the most creative, out of the box thinking threads I've read.  Woo HOO! Great job! 

  20. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    [​IMG]I agree points to TBD

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