This summer I was fortunate enough to get a meat smoker. It is actually a combination gas grill, charcoal grill, searer, and meat smoker. It’s a beast and I love it.
I thought about the purchase for many years but kept making excuses and never took the plunge. I’d think things like multi-tasking products often don’t do a good job, or smoking meat takes too long. Although the latter is true, the combo grill was one of the best purchases I have ever made. I have enjoyed delicacies such as smoked shrimp, smoked chicken thighs, smoked ribs, and the mack daddy of all smoked things: smoked pork shoulder.
Pork shoulder is intimidating because it is a large piece of meat. It is also pork. Pork takes home a bronze medal when you are talking meat. According to FoodDemocracy.com, Americans consume about 73 pounds of chicken, 62 pounds of beef, and only about 46 pounds of pork per year. If you can get over the fact we eat over 180 pounds of meat per year… keep reading.
Pre-smoker, I would cook a pork shoulder in my oven, low and slow, just like a chuck roast. That is a fine way to prepare a pork shoulder; however, if you are fortunate enough to find yourself in a situation where you can smoke one, do it. The flavor is amazing and the process is a joy. Let me share it with you.
- The multi-tasking magic machine:
This baby was by Smoke Hollow in Neosho, Missouri, about 20 miles away from my home.
- For a novice, the hardest part about smoking is getting your smoker box going. I use real wood lump charcoal because, according to my brother-in-law, it is the best. I also did some research on it and many people agree with him. You MUST get the coals nice and hot before you put wood on top. They need to start looking whitish. Like this:
As you can see, they are starting to get a gray and white color. These probably had about 15 more minutes until ready. Once your coals are hot enough, then you can place the wood on top, which produces the smoke. I use hickory. Many people say to soak the wood in water for about an hour before smoking because it will last longer, but I never have. I used hickory mini-logs and chips. The logs are awesome because they last longer than the chips, but the chips get sparky easier. That’s the winning combo for me.
- While waiting for the charcoal to get hot enough, I prep the pork. I use about a 6 lb. pork shoulder, or some call it a pork butt. Regardless of the size, just know that your pork needs to smoke for 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of meat and reach an internal temperature of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it is done. I have always applied a dry rub on my pork. One of my favorites is Blues Hog. I love their BBQ sauce as well. If you decide you want to baste your pork with BBQ, wait until about the last 45 minutes of smoking to avoid burning. On a side note, I always recommend dry rub because you typically have a LOT of pork left over. If you have basted your pork in BBQ sauce, then all the leftover pork will taste like BBQ sauce and prevent you from using it in other recipes. At the end of this post, I will show you a few great recipes on how to use up ALL your pork. Here she is. All seasoned up:
- Once the pork is seasoned and the grill is about 250 degrees, place your pork on the grates of your grill FAT CAP SIDE UP. This is extremely important because the fat will drip down the pork as it smokes and naturally keep your pork moist.
- Let the waiting begin.I like to get the pork on by 9 a.m., that way it is done right around dinner time. You can also do your smoking a day in advance. You don’t have to stare at your smoker for 9 hours, but you want to check it every so often to make sure that the temperature is staying around 250 degrees. You will need to add more wood, and perhaps more charcoal as the day goes on.
- The finished product:
Once your pork shoulder is done smoking, make sure that it rests on the counter for about 20 minutes. Then, take two forks and start shredding. The pork should just fall apart. You will be left with a bone; discard. The pork is wonderful on it’s own or with your favorite sauce. Let me show you some other ideas for using it up.
Smoked Pork Cubans
1 package of King’s Hawaiian rolls
2 to 2 ½ cups of shredded smoked pork shoulder
12 thin slices of Swiss cheese
12 thin slices of deli ham (I like to used smoked ham)
12 bread and butter pickles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate rolls. On the bottom half assemble sandwiches by dividing the shredded pork among the 12 rolls. Top each roll with a slice of ham, slice of Swiss, one pickle, and a dollop of Dijon mustard. Place tops back on rolls and pace all sandwiches on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Smoked Pork Tacos
Fill hard or soft corn tortillas with shredded pork. I like to top mine with pico, guacamole, and pickled red onion. Fill with favorite toppings.
Smoked BBQ Pork Zucchini boats
4 medium sized zucchini squash
1 and ½ cups of shredded pork
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
1 small sliced onion
½ cup cheddar cheese
Split zucchinis lengthwise (you will have 8). Using a knife, make a line in each zucchini lengthwise, following but not touching the skin. Next make cross marks with the knife in the zucchini, but do not go through the bottom of the zucchini. Using a spoon, dig out zucchini meat. Discard or save for another use. Place zucchini boats on a hot grill or in an oven at 350 degrees. Cook for about 10-12 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, dice onion and let cook in a pan sprayed with cooking spray until translucent. Add pork to the pan. Mix and warm pork through. Add BBQ sauce and mix. Fill zucchini boats with pork mixture, top with cheese, and put back in the oven until cheese has melted and is bubbly.
Smoked Pork Nachos
Place a big pile of corn chips, shredded cheese, shredded pork, black or green olives, diced onion, diced green pepper, diced tomato, and salsa on a cookie sheet or grill pan. Add or omit what you want! Pop on the grill or in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts; about 10 minutes.