11 July, 2014
Smoked Pork Shoulder
When done correctly, pulled pork can be a thing of beauty. The key is using the right cut of meat. I’ve seen pulled pork recipes using pork tenderloin and while they are undoubtedly faster than this recipe, the flavor achieved by using pork shoulder cannot be beat. Pork shoulder (or butt) is a cut of pork marbled with fat and connective tissue throughout, so a low and slow cooking process is crucial. Pork shoulder is also a pretty cheap cut of meat that can feed a crowd of people without breaking your budget.
I made this recipe for the 4th of July – there’s nothing more American than smoking a huge hunk of meat! After shredding, it ended up in between toasted Ciabatta buns, topped with slaw and Carolina-style barbeque sauce. The leftovers were used in two separate meals: pork burritos and then avocado and pork grilled cheese. It was the meat that kept on giving!
If you don’t have a smoker, fear not. I was actually having trouble getting my smoker started, so I ended up dousing those flames and using my gas grill to smoke this bad boy. Blasphemy, I know. My first choice was the smoker, but it just wasn’t cooperating. Plus, it’s much easier to control the heat on a gas grill.
I set up my grill for indirect heating, put the pork on the unlit side, added apple wood chips to the lit side and just let it go at 250 degrees for about 3 – 4 hours. After that, I committed another sin in the eyes of true BBQ enthusiasts and pulled it off the grill, added it to a half-deep, covered it with foil and roasted it for another 3 hours in a 250 degree oven. I may have gone against true BBQ and smoking rules, but the end product was so juicy, tender and delicious that none of my guests seemed to mind.
While this recipe is more work than just throwing some tenderloins into a crock-pot, it is definitely worth the extra effort. Next big summer holiday or family party, if you have the time, I suggest you give this a try. My guests loved it so much and found it so tender that the phrase, “no teeth required”, was uttered often. When it comes to tender meat, there’s no greater, albeit stranger, compliment than that.