What Size Pork Shoulder To Buy For Smoked Pulled Pork
I like to plan for about 1 pound of UNCOOKED pork per person for pork shoulder that has any bones in, or a lot of fat that will be trimmed off, since they take up a lot of the uncooked weight and won’t be eaten.
If you have a lot of hungry eaters, and the pulled pork is the main dish you’re serving , plan for about 1 pound of meat, uncooked, per person.
If you are serving pulled pork as a part of a sandwich, or you will be serving lots of other meats, you can plan for about half a pound or a three quarters of a pound of uncooked pork per person.
How To Reheat Pulled Pork
Whether frozen or refrigerated, you can reheat leftovers in a few different ways. You can also eat pulled pork cold . Or you can use leftovers to add to other recipes, and cook accordingly.
My recommend reheating method for smoked pulled pork is the oven.
Pulled Pork Recipe Competition Style Slow
Money Muscle and Sections of a Pork Butt VideoPreparing your Pulled Pork Recipe for cookingPulled Pork Recipe Injection:
- 1 cup Apple Juice
- 1 TBS Soy Sauce
- 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
Proper Smoking Technique for Pulled Pork RecipePulled Pork Mop Recipe:
- 16 oz Vegetable Oil
- 1 cup of dry rub
- 2 TBS Worcestershire
- 2 TBS Soy Sauce
The Tenderization Process for Pulled Pork RecipeThe butt needs to go to 195 degrees internal and this will take some time.The Final Steps for Pulled Pork RecipeAppearance Is Everything with this Pulled Pork Recipe!Malcom Reed
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Should I Inject Pork Shoulder
Yes. We prefer to inject . We use equal parts apple cider vinegar and apple juice or water to get moisture and flavor into the interior of the meat.
You can brine instead. But any way you look at it, adding an injection or brine adds superior moisture and allows you to infuse specific flavor.
You like heat? Add some hot sauce to the injection. But in the end its adding moisture into the meat, that when warmed up will try to escape the meat and add that flavor all throughout the interior of the meat versus just the rub on the exterior.
You dont have to inject, but we found that adding more of that moisture allows the meat to sweat a bit as it cooks, adding more smoke, and keeps the interior of the meat moist and flavorful.
When injecting use a food injector and inject the liquid into 1-inch virtual cubes of space, youll see the pork expand or bulge. This is fine. Remember, you are going to be cooking this for several hours , so that liquid will help keep the meat moist over that long duration of the cook.
Spritz For Pulled Pork
Make sure you have a food safe spray bottle. Fill it with equal parts apple cider vinegar and apple juice .
After three to four hours of smoke, you spray with this spritz every 30 minutes until you wrap. This cleanses off any ash that may have developed, but also coats the pork with a small liquid layer.
As smoke travels through the cooking chamber it is attracted to moisture. So this adds a lot of smoke flavor as the smoke connects with the spritz. We will spritz until the wrap. It takes only seconds to spritz, so you wont be loosing much heat when you open up your cooker.
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After Many Hours At Low Heat In A Smoker Pork Shoulder Comes Out Silky Tender With A Crusty And Crunchy Bark And Ready For Shredding Into Terrific Pulled Pork
- A low smoking temperature melts connective tissue and fat, keeping the meat tender and juicy.
- An overnight dry brine seasons the meat and helps it retain moisture.
- A simple dry rub creates flavorful bark that complements the meat without overpowering its flavor.
This recipe is relatively uninvolved once you get the smoker going, and it’s easy to get stunning results, even if you don’t have a ton of barbecue experience. Pork shoulder is forgiving like that. Serve it piled onto potato buns with coleslaw on top, for an epic and iconic sandwich.
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What Is Pork Shoulder
Pork Shoulder is a dense muscle from the shoulder of the pig. The characteristics of the shoulder include pockets of intramuscular fat that are elongated and stringy in nature. Tucked inside the shoulder is another important muscle called the pork collar, or money muscle in competition barbecue.
The shoulder may be called a number of things depending on how they are cut and can come bone-less or bone-in. We prefer bone-in for smoking because it gives a more uniform shape.
- Whole Pork Shoulder This is typically a 12 14 pound pork shoulder that includes the actual shoulder just off the spine, as well as the upper portion of the leg, or picnic.
- Picnic The lower portion of the shoulder and the bone in upper portion of the leg. This is easy to spot because it tapers down toward the leg with a triangular shape. These average 6 8 pounds.
- Boston Butt/Pork Butt This is the shoulder that has been separated from the picnic. This cut is typically 6 8 pounds. The butt is still the shoulder and not to be confused with the ham which is the rear of the pig.
- Partial Cuts At times grocery stores will pre-slice pork shoulders into 3 4 pound cuts. We do not recommend using these for smoking.
- Boneless Any of these cuts can be boneless. The butcher simply removes the bone and may tie the pork shoulder with butcher string.
The best way to cook pork shoulder is to braise or smoke low and slow to slowly render the pockets of fat.
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How To Shred Pulled Pork
Whether youre making pulled pork sandwiches or using the meat for another dish, the shredding is obviously an important part of the recipe.
Note: Its best to shred pork while its still warm from cooking. Once its cold, the meat just doesnt pull apart as well.
You can use two forks to pull pork, or a meat shredder tool . The claws are larger than regular forks, so they will speed up the process. But whichever tool you use, the technique is the same.
The Best Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipe
Smoked Pork Shoulder is a classic summertime BBQ recipe. Come check out my tried and true method for making Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork along with my 9 pro tips for the best smoked pork Im including my favorite pork shoulder brine and pulled pork rub to use when making this pulled pork recipe.
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Our Favorite Tools For Smoking Pork Butt
The following are some of our favorite tools to help us make killer pulled pork! Most are pictured above.
- These Silicone Gloves by Ekogrips: these are fantastic when working with hot meat. The best part of them is that they are dishwasher safe, so you are assured you are working with clean and safe gloves. There are several silicone gloves out there, but these are the ones we use.
- This Pork Puller: When were cooking several pork butts for a crowd we use this pork puller for speed and ease. You just attach it, just like a drill bit, to your drill and pull away. So easy and so awesome to make smoked pulled pork!
- A Good Digital Probe Thermometer: Temperature is key when cooking a large piece of meat like a pork butt. Every transition we make is determined by a specific temperature, so its vital to have a good thermometer.
- For injecting our meat, we use an injector, like this one.
Difference Between A Butt And A Pork Shoulder
More often than not, pork shoulders seem to win the popularity contest in the grocery stores. Its not that pork butts arent available it just seems that pork shoulders are more common. While they both come from the same part of the big, there are a few differences.
A butt is meatier and has more marbling than a pork shoulder. The pork butt sits a little higher as well towards the back area while the shoulder is further down on that same cut of meat towards the top of the leg. Together these two cuts of meat are commonly known as the butt shoulder. The bottom part of the shoulder and into the leg is known as the picnic shoulder, which maybe youve heard before.
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How To Control The Temperature Of A Ceramic Grill
After you have a fire going, the only way to control the temperature inside of your ceramic cooker is by controlling the airflow.
The more air that you let in, the hotter your fire will burn.
When you’re smoking meat, we want a cool smoke. Keep the temperature of the smoker between 225 and 250.
Notice how little air I’m letting into the smoker. I will adjust these as the smoke progresses to regulate my temperature.
When the fire gets too hot, I close them down a little. If the fire gets too cool I open the airflow up a little.
Keep in mind that you should check the temperature of you fire often. This is why I love the Thermoworks signals digital thermometer.
I can set up minimum and maximum temperatures for my grill and meat and get an alert on my phone if temperatures start to fall outside of the range I want them.
Whats The Difference Between Pork Shoulder & Pork Butt
Theres a lot of confusion between these two cuts of meat, and some people even think they are the same. They are NOT the same:
- Pork shoulder comes from the shoulder of the pig, but is a cut that is taken from lower on the shoulder
- Pork butt is ALSO from the shoulder, but is taken from higher up on the shoulder
Pork butt typically has more fat throughout the meat, and the uniform shape makes it a great choice for low-and-slow cooking.
However, smoked pork butt and smoked pork shoulder are both delicious.
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How Long Does It Take To Smoke Pulled Pork
This is definitely a long and slow cooking process, so plan ahead for this recipe.
Heres a breakdown of the recipe timeline:
- 8 hours overnight: Youll start by adding a rub to the pork shoulder and letting it marinate in the fridge overnight.
- 4-6 hours: Smoke the pork at 250F.
- 4-6 hours: Smoke the pork at 225F.
- 1 hour: Let the pork shoulder rest before shredding.
That puts official cooking time at around 10-12 hours, but full recipe time at close to 20 hours.
That being said, you wont be actively cooking the entire time. As long as youre around to keep any eye on the smoker from time to time, you can generally set it and do other things.
Traeger Pro Tip #: Trim Excess Fat From The Pork Shoulder
Removing large chunks of fat prior to cooking will allow more surface area for the smoke to penetrate the meat. Smoke does not pass through fat very effectively.
If you want a lot of smoke flavor, make sure youve trimmed away anything thicker than 1/2-3/4 of an inch from the exterior. Pork shoulder has plenty of fat marbling throughout so removing some from the exterior will not dry out your meat.
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Low And Slow For Pulled Pork
I cooked my pork butt at around 235 for about 4-5 hours on my Traeger Pro Series 34 smoker. Youll want to spritz every hour after the 2 hour mark.
Once the internal temperature was at around 155-160, wrap in foil so that it doesnt take on anymore smoke. If you choose to go bare for the entire cook be sure to continue spritzing your pork shoulder along the way
At this point, you can even raise your temperature a little higher to expedite the process. I continued cooking at 275 and had everything done at the 8-9 hour mark for a 7 pound pork butt.
Ultimately youre cooking your pork but for as long as it needs for it to be done. Youll looking for an internal temperately ranging anywhere from 195-210.
You want the blade bone to easily pull out from the pork butt, which Ive found so far 203-205 is the sweet spot!
If youre going with my rub, youll have a nice dark bark, similar to a texas style smoked brisket. This rub has a good pepper flavor, with a hint of sweetness and all sorts of juice from the pork.
Stay tuned for some more low and slow barbecue recipes this summer!
Smoking Your Pork Butt
Once the temps have been stable for around 30 minutes with no vent adjustments needed, it is time to get your meat on. The smoke should have settled from a thick white to a thin barely visible blue smoke by now as well.
So insert an internal temp probe into the pork and set and track the temp until it reaches 160°F.
Tips for smoking your pork butt
- You can use grill racks to make it easier to move the butt around. Just make sure you spray it with cooking oil to prevent sticking. You can use this for any kind of smoking to make it easier to pick things up and move them inside.
- Use gloves to keep your hands clean and prevent cross-contamination
- You can use any good smoking wood, in this case, were apple wood.
I wont even look at the pork for at least 2 hours. At this point our bark should be forming on the outside, so we are just checking to make sure we dont have any dry areas.
If anywhere looks dry, just give it a spritz or two with a spray bottle filled with apple juice. You can use any liquid you want but I feel apple juice helps the outer caramelise a little better.
Once we hit the internal temp of 160°F, its time to take the butt off the smoker and wrap it in two layers of heavy-duty foil. The reason for the two layers is purely as a backup if the first layer has a hole or gets a tear in it.
Put the butt back on the smoker and track its temp until it reaches 195°F.
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How To Make Smoked Traeger Pork Butt
Resting And Keeping Pork Butt Warm
If you do not own a commercial food warmer like a Cambro, a cooler with a locking lid is perfectly fine.
Line your cooler with an old towel, then wrap the foil wrapped collars in another old towel and place on top, then line them with another old towel and put the lid back on.
Allow this to rest for at least an hour when cooking at lower temps between 225°F to 275°F but since we lifted the cooking heat, I find an extra hour of resting works best. So give it a two-hour rest.
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How Long Does It Take To Smoke Pork
A few things will depend on how long it takes to smoke a pork shoulder or even a pork butt, the most important being the weight of it, and the temperature with what you smoke it at. A basic rule of thumb, but in no way is it an exact guide, is 90 minutes of smoking time per pound at 225° to 250°. Another way is to use a thermometer the entire time for indications on when your pork may be done.
- Remove it from the smoker once it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
- Wrap the pork shoulder in foil and return it to the smoker and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of between 200° and 205°.
- Rest in the foil at room temperature before serving.