Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Smoke Pork Shoulder

How to Smoke Pork Shoulder

  • I usually try to purchase a pork shoulder that weighs about 8 pounds. I have found that larger shoulders are a little bit harder to smoke because the outer meat will dry out before the inner meat is done if a good mop is not used to keep the shoulder moist.
  • The night before you are going to smoke the shoulder, apply a thin layer of mustard to the pork shoulder. This will create a paste that the rub will stick to. The next step is to apply a rub. There are many great rub recipes out there, and you can find a few at my website. Below is a rub recipe I use quite often.
3-Tbsp Tony's or comparable cajun seasoning
4-Tbsp Turbinado brown sugar (this type of sugar will burn at a higher temperature
than regular brown sugar)
1/2-Tsp Paprika
1/4-Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt


  • I usually mix and store all ingredients in an empty seasoning container.
  • Tips: If you need more, just double the recipe
  • After you rub the shoulder down with mustard, completely coat the shoulder with the rub. I have found that it helps to pat the rub into the shoulder to make it stick better.
  • Wrap the shoulder in plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night.
  • Take the shoulder out of the fridge about 1 hour before you are going to put it on the smoker. This will bring the pork shoulder's temperature down to room temperature.

  • When the pit reaches operating temp, I smoke at 225 F, place the shoulder on the pit and let it smoke for about one hour, fat side up.
  • Next, apply a good mop to the shoulder. Keep the outside of the shoulder moist while smoking by applying the mop about every 45 minutes or so, but be careful not to open the pit too much because the temperature will drop and you will have to cook longer.
Here is a mop recipe:

1 Cup beef broth
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper


  • 1.Mix all ingredients in a pot, and heat over med/low for 20 minutes.
  • 2.Smoke the shoulder for about 1.5 hours per pound, or until the internal temperature of the thickest portion of the shoulder is between 170-180 F.
  • I have smoked pork shoulders directly on the pit with no foil for the duration of the smoking time, and I have wrapped them in foil after they have smoked for 6-7 hours. The wrapping method works well because you can control the moisture level of the shoulder if the shoulder is sealed in foil. The mop, and the juices create a very humid environment inside the foil wrapped shoulder, and I think that smoking a shoulder this way produces excellent results.
  • Leaving the shoulder on the pit for the duration of the smoking time tends to produce a firmer, drier crust on the shoulder, but the internal meat is very good.
  • You will just have to experiment both ways to find out which way you like the most.
  • My favorite way to eat the shoulder is to make pulled pork sandwiches. Smoked pork shoulders will literally fall apart, and making a pulled pork sandwich is fairly simple. Shred the smoked pork shoulder with a couple of forks to prepare the meat for the sandwich. The sandwich basically consists of two hamburger buns, some good barbeque sauce, the pulled pork, a few onion and pickle slices, and whatever else you think will taste good.
  • Pulled pork tacos are also very delicious. First, I heat up a couple flour tortillas.
  • Next, I sautee onions and bell peppers, and then I put the pork in the tortilla, along with barbeque sauce and the vegetables.
Smoked Pork Ham :
  • All hams start out as a roast from the hind leg of a hog. This is called a fresh ham. Before it is prepared it is no different than any other pork roast. How it gets to be a ham is something of a complicated story.
  • Hams are prepared in several different ways. They can be aged, cured, smoked or cooked. The ham you get at the store is generally wet or brined cured. This process involves injecting the ham with a combination of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, water and flavorings. The ham is then cooked to a temperature of 150 degrees F. The combination of the chemical brine and the cooking will kill off bacteria and make a ham.
  • Now aging is a different process and does not necessarily require a brine of smoke. Hams are hung in a special room with exact temperature and humidity controls. Hams can spend as much as 5 years aging and will come out coated in a hard mold crust. Of course you scrap off and wash the ham before you eat it. It might not sound terribly appetizing but these hams can sell for a lot of money. Aging is done at about 75 degrees F to 95 degrees F at a humidity level of 55%-65% for at least 45 days. You need good air circulation to keep the surface of the meat dry to reduce mold growth.
  • Cold smoking is the way to smoke a ham. Cold smoking is done at temperatures under 100 degrees F and can go on for days or even weeks. Because the temperature is so low, bacteria is controlled by chemicals in the smoke and the slow drying process. A cold smoked Ham does require salt curing (typically in a brine) to keep the bacteria under control while the ham cures.
  • Many hams are prepared through a combination of these processes. The Smithfield Ham, which can sell for $7 to $15 a pound uses all of the above ways to preserve meat. If you want to make your own Smithfield Ham start with the hind leg of a hog raised entirely on a diet of peanuts, brine in a saltwater mixture for 1 to 2 months, smoke for a week and then let age for another 6 months. See why they cost so much?
  • So you can't put a fresh ham in your smoker and have it for dinner that night? Sure you can, but it won't be a ham in the way you think of ham. It would be much more like a smoked pork shoulder or southern style pulled pork.
  • Though it might sound complicated you can prepare your own cured, aged and smoked ham, just plan far in advance. Some of the links on the right can give you step by step instructions to curing a ham. If you prefer to hot smoke you ham use the instructions for pulled pork.
  • So maybe you don't want to go to all this. There are several ways to dress up a prepared ham that will add flavor and improve the quality of you ham. Normally when you want to serve you precooked ham for a formal gathering you push in a dozen or so whole cloves, top with pineapple slices, glaze with a nice mustard sauce and bake in your oven at 350o for a couple of hours, depending on the size. Well, this will get the ham hot and add some flavor but if you really want to dress up the ham try it on the grill or in the smoker.
Smoke Pulled Pork : 

  • There is nothing simpler to make than pulled pork. You’ll need a nice fatty 5-6 lb. pork butt, salt & pepper, smoking chips or chunks, and time. The key is to cook it slow and low for hours in a deliciously smokey BBQ. Set up your BBQ for indirect grilling (coals on one side/food cooking on another), put a drip pan under the spot where your pork is going to cook, and soak the hickory chips or chunks in water for an hour or so. Some people will add a dry rub to the pork, but we prefer ours with a straight sea salt and pepper rub (no need to let the butt rest with the salt pepper rub. Just throw it straight on the smoker.) If you want to experiment with a rub, combine some brown sugar, salt & pepper, with a variety of spices. We’ll sometimes add fish sauce for an Asian flavor, or even soy sauce is great. Rub it over the pork butt, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. Time to light up and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

1 Pork Butt (Boston Butt, pork shoulder, etc…) @5-6 lbs.
2 T Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
6 c Smoking Chips (soaked in water for an hour, then drained) or branch cutting from fruit trees such as peach or pear trees

  • For smoking, you cook using indirect heat, (the meat isn’t being cooked directly over the coals (or gas) but instead is being cooked off to the side and the heat is coming from the opposite side or in the side firebox chamber.) The temp in the grill’s chamber where the pork is should be in the 300º F range the whole time cooking.  The BBQ’s lid will be closed most all of the time, trapping in the heat and smoke and slowly cooking the pork like it would in an oven, only better.  You should have a decent amount of smoke over half the time you are cooking the butt.
1a. Gas Grill- 
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas. Place the wood chips in a smoker box, then place the box over a far sided burner. Heat the smoker box side until the grill is 300ºF, then lower to medium-low heat.

1b. Charcoal- 
  • Heat the coals (preferably lump charcoal) on one side, or in the side firebox if you have a  BBQ grill which has one. Adjust the vents to obtain and maintain the correct temperature.
2. Time to smoke. 
  • Season all sides of the pork butt with the salt & pepper. Toss in about a cup of wood chips on the coals, and put the pork butt (fat side up) on the grate over the drip pan. Close the lid and smoke for 5-6 hours. If using charcoal, you’ll need to replenish the charcoal and wood chips every hour or so. The meat is done when it easily comes apart with a gentle pull. The internal temperature should be around 195ºF.
3. Take the butt off the BBQ, 
  • put it on a cutting board and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. After resting it’s time to pull the pork. Remove any skin or excessively fatty sections, then using your fingers, pull the pork into pieces. They should be about 1/4″ wide x 1-2″ long. It takes a bit of time to pull by hand, but this step is what gives the best texture. Hack it with a cleaver if you are impatient, but prepare to face the scorn of the BBQ Gods.
4. Time to eat. 
  • Toss with enough of your favorite BBQ sauce to keep everything moist. Serve with hamburger buns, coleslaw, and more sauce to individually add, or try our Pulled Pork Banh Mi. Grab a beer. You deserve it.
Smoked Pork Roast :
1 5-6 lb. pork roast, preferably shoulder or boston butt shopping list
apple cider shopping list
salt and pepper shopping list
any herb that strikes your fancy shopping list
charcoal shopping list
wood chunks (NOT chips, chunks, hickory, mesquite, apple, pear)


  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs all over the roast and let it sit at room temperature for two hours. At an hour and a half, start the charcoal in your smoker, and soak 7 or 8 wood chunks in water.
  • When the fire burns down and the coals are covered with grey ash, drain the chunks thoroughly. Fill the water pan beneath the grill with cider, and place the roast on the grill above it (if you use your grill instead of a smoker, you'll cook the roast on the other side of the grill from the fire, so put a pan under the grill and fill it with cider).
  • Add the drained chunks to the top of the coals, close the lid, and smoke for an hour. Check and see if you need to add more wood. If the flame starts to die, add more charcoal. Check every 30 minutes or so, and adjust accordingly. You do not need to turn the roast, but when the water pan runs dry, add more cider.
  • This will take about an hour per pound.
  • The roast will be moist and juicy, tender, and have an incredibly smoky flavor.
How to Smoke Ribs :
  • You can't beat a rack of perfectly smoked barbeque pork ribs. Whether you like them dry or wet, the trick is time and temperature. When you cook barbeque you cook to a temperature more and worry about less time. I cook ribs until the thickest part is 170-180 degrees F
  • Most of the ribs I smoke are dry, meaning no barbeque sauce is applied during the cooking process. I will usually have a sauce available for people who like barbeque sauce on their ribs, but I do not typically apply the sauce while I am cooking the ribs.
  • I do apply a mop when cooking the ribs to keep the ribs moist and add a little flavor. A great mop for ribs is to use 60% apple cider vinegar and 40% cooking oil. This type of mop can be applied with a small bottle sprayer found at your local grocery store.
  • To smoke a perfect rack of ribs, follow the simple process described below. You will have great results every time.
  • 1.Choose a rack of ribs from your grocery store that is pink in color, and has not been frozen. I prefer St. Louis style ribs, which are pre-trimmed. Your local butcher may also be of assistance to you.
  • 2.The night before you are going to smoke the ribs, remove the membrane off of the rack of ribs. The membrane is a thin, plastic like liner on the back side of the rack of ribs. If you leave the membrane on, the the ribs will not be as tender. To remove the membrane, use a sharp knife to separate the membrane from the ribs at the narrow end of the rack. When you have enough of the membrane separated, use your thumb and index finger to pull and separate the rest of the membrane from the ribs.I pull and cut with my knife at the same time to insure I remove all of the membrane. With a little practice, you will get the hang of it.
  • 3.Apply a thin layer of mustard or olive oil to the ribs. This will help the rub stick to the ribs. I like to use mustard because it makes a great crust.
  • 4.Apply a rub to the ribs. Rub recipes can be found on the left navigation menu.
  • 5.Let the ribs sit in the refrigerator over night.
  • 6.Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you are going to smoke them. They will be closer to room temperature by cooking time.
Barbecue Pork Loin :

1 pork loin roast, about 5 pounds
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water


  • Place pork loin roast in a roasting pan. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and water; bring to boiling point. Spoon some sauce over meat. Roast pork loin at 325° for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or to an internal temperature of at least 160° on a meat thermometer. Baste pork frequently with the sauce.
  • Pork loin roast serves 6.

Cook Time: 2 hours , 30 minutes


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