Smoked Pork Shoulder
Low and slow, is the secret to all great smoking. We love smoked meats (i.e. beef brisket, pork butts, pork ribs) and have even experimented with salmon 😋. Sadly, when smoking meats, we are often challenged with the patience of low and slow because we typically start the smoking mid-day. Anywho, in this post, I’ll share my secrets to getting great smoke on the pork, while keeping the meat juicy, flavorful and delicious. If you’ve been challenged before by patience and time, like us, this post is for you 👍
Continue reading to learn about my preparation including my delicious brine process and my yummy BBQ sauce, tested and approved (see below)!
Preparing my Pork Shoulder, including the Brine Process – Step 1/Day 1
1. I removed the skin from the pork. I do this because I want a bark to form and I don’t want the skin in the way.
2. Once the skin is removed, I scored the remaining fat on the shoulder.
3. Now onto my overnight brine…
Jackie’s Simple Brine
- 2 cups of juice
- I used Trader Joe’s Orange Peach Mango for this brine, but I’ve also been known to use their Pineapple juice or Lemonade. A juice with sugar will help create some good flavor.
- 1/8 cup of lime juice
- Citrus 🍈 is needed in a brine in my opinion
- 1/8 cup of kosher salt
- My pork shoulder is 7lbs so this isn’t much salt
- 1 cup of a light lager
- Because why not 🍻
- 1TBS of crushed black pepper
- You need a bit of zip
4. In a pot large enough for the pork shoulder, I simmered all the juices together with the salt.
5. Once the salt dissolved, I added the beer and turned off the heat. I then added the crushed black pepper and ice cubes to cool the brine.
6. When the brine is cool enough, I’ll add my pork shoulder
7. I added a plate to the top of the pork and a cup to ensure the shoulder is completely submerged. The lid will squeeze everything together.
8. I then placed the pork shoulder in the refrigerator and allow the brine to work it’s magic, I would suggest brining overnight.
Preparing the Pork Shoulder for the Smoker – Step 2/Day 2
I simply removed the shoulder from the brine and I didn’t rinse since 1/8 cup of salt isn’t too much when you’re working with 7+ lbs, two, I didn’t want to wash away those flavors from the brine. I placed the shoulder on a meat safe cutting board for transporting to the smoker and added some salt and pepper. I have been known to make a great dry of spices for the pork, but since we shared this with friends on July 4th, I kept it simple with salt and pepper because I’ll have my tangy BBQ sauce for those that want the extra punch of flavor with their juicy pork 😋. See my recipe below for my BBQ sauce.
Preparing the Smoker and Cooking the Pork Shoulder – Step 3/Day 2
Sorry, I neglected to snap any photos of the first few steps since David was on a mission to get back to work and everything was moving quickly with the fire and smoke 😉
1. We began by building a smoke chimney of lump coal with paper at the base of the chimney. That was lit and became fiery hot.
2. Once the coals were hot and smokey, David, aka the fire starter, dumped the coals into the base bowl of our smoker and added hickory/cherry smoke chips and then covers the smoker to get hot. We tend to use hickory wood chips and/or cherry chips. The combination of the two is smokey and delicious.
3. Next, he filled the second base bowl with water to allow for that steaming and smoking action.
4. The cooking grate was added above the water base and again we continued to warm our smoker. Our smoker is designed so you can layer the base bowls (i.e. bottom for the coals and wood, top for the water) and then the grate 👍
5. We then added the pork shoulder to the grate.
6. Now you let the smoker work it’s magic. I hung out by the pool because I was on a vacation day and it was a WARM (i.e. 87 degrees) and BEAUTIFUL (i.e. no clouds in the sky) day and I continued adding wood chips as needed and misted the pork from time to time with water.
Note: After many hours (i.e. 16+ hours) you’d have a shreddable juicy smoked shoulder with a thick black bark. However, I prefer to finish the next day in the oven because I don’t have the patience to babysit a smoker overnight; two, I’m able to introduce some liquid goodness by finishing in the oven! This is my secret to smokey juicy pulled pork.
Preparing your Pork for Serving – Step 4/Day 3
1. I began by heating my oven to 325 degrees.
2. My pork shoulder is added to a large roasting pan with another cup of juice and light lager. I then cover the pork with foil to allow for some steaming.
3. I’ll typically cook for another 6-7 hours, basting the pork from time to time with its own juices, orange peach mango and beer. I want to make sure the pork is fork tender to allow for easy pulling and trust me you will have super juicy pork. Note: I needed to add another cup or two of juices because I didn’t want the roasting pan to dry out.
4. Once the pork is fork tender, I removed it from the oven and I allowed it to cool slightly. This worked well since we were heading out to our friends with our pork shoulder in tow 😉
5. Once we got to our friends (i.e. ~30 minutes), I placed it into a large meat safe bowl for shredding, while holding onto the liquid from the roasting pan.
6. Now it’s shredding time, thankfully the pork was cool enough to handle because that makes the shredding so much easier. Once shredded and sampling took place 😉, I added the pork back to the roasting pan and stirred in those juices.
7. At this point you can serve or cover with foil and warm again when needed.
8. Serve on its own (because it’s that juicy and tasty), on a roll with my yummy BBQ and on roll with coleslaw or in a quesadilla. Enjoy and cheers 🍻
Jackie’s Mild BBQ Sauce
My BBQ Sauce has a great vinegar kick and some heat, creating tangy deliciousness 😋. Since I only seasoned the pork with salt and pepper after the brine, my sauce was the perfect condiment and it was tested and approved by all, even those with picky palates 😉
- 1 1/2 cups of Ketchup
- 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1TBS of cayenne pepper
- 1TBS of ground mustard
- 1TBS of Worcestershire sauce
- 1TBS of molasse, you could also maple syrup if you’d prefer
- 1/2tbs of garlic salt
- 1/2tbs of onion powder
- Fresh ground pepper
1. Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk together.
2. Turn a burner to low heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the heat to peek through. If you taste and want less heat, add some sugar and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Allow to cool and add to a condiment bottle.
4. Refrigerate and you’re able to store for up to 1 month.