For a year and a half, the path to true barbecue had eluded me. Hidden. Enshrouded, almost as by a plume of smoke, you might say. My wife gave me a Brinkman electric smoker for Christmas in 2011, and until recently, all my attempts at successfully smoking a Boston Butt, or pork shoulder, had mixed results. It doesn't take that long to smoke pork to the cooked temperature of 165 degrees or so. But I never properly budgeted enough time or showed enough attention to push the meat thermometer up to 190 degrees, the temperature at which the connective tissues in the meat will dissolve enough for the pork to pull apart.
Sure, you can use an oven, or a crock pot. Using one for Carnitas-Style Pork is incredibly easy. But I wanted to pull this off without any help from anything other than wood, heat, and a flavorful spice rub.
So this fourth of July, I set things in motion, and through A LOT of time and diligence, pulled pork was achieved.
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground ginger powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp rosemary
Pork shoulder/Boston Butt (mine was about 5-7 pounds. 3-5 is a good size and will feed most typical parties)
When it comes to your spice rub, go with your favorite. This one, called "Memphis Dust," comes from Amazingribs.com, and I've enjoyed the flavor, even in some of attempts that have produced a less-desirable result with the smoking.
1. Combine the rub mix in a small bowl. Rinse the pork roast and pat dry. Apply rub liberally, making sure you rub it in well, especially in any nooks or crannies. Wrap the roast in cling-wrap and put in the fridge overnight. You'll have rub leftover after this, I suggest sealing it in a mason jar.
2. Remove from the fridge an hour or two before smoke time, to try and let it come to room temperature a little. Place your wood chips in large bowl -- I used a combination of the Jack Daniels brand (allegedly made from leftover pieces of wood from the JD filtering process) and apple. You're going to want to soak them a bit to help them last a little longer. I strongly recommend a good dark beer, and I used Wasatch Brewing's Polygamy Porter, since I had a leftover bottle.
3. Turn on your smoker, fill your water pan, and place the chips in your smoke box. In my case, since the smoker is electric, I used aluminum foil to make some envelopes and put them down on the heating element. I really think I need a thicker metal box for the future, as the chips weren't very insulated and tended to burn up every 2 hours or so.
4. Place a meat thermometer in the roast, making sure not to have the tip of the probe touch the bone, and put the meat on the smoker. Editor's Note: Something I forgot to mention -- shortly before placing the meat on the smoker, I injected it liberally with some apple juice, using a basic seasoning injector kit.
5. I put my roast on around 10 p.m. or so, and it took about 11 hours altogether. I may or may not have consumed a sixer of Nola Brown Ale and watched a few movies while I stayed up, but it was worth it. Make sure you check on the status of your wood chips every two hours or so, and make sure you have water in the drip pan.
6. Once the roast is done, remove it, wrap it in foil and let it rest for about a half-hour to 45 minutes, then remove from foil and pull apart with forks. From there, I put it in a crock pot to keep warm until company arrived. I guess you can add the sauce then if you prefer, but I like to let people choose whether they use sauce or not.