pork shoulders after 14 hours of slow smoking

I love meat! I love pork in particular. I love it in all forms, and I especially love it smoked. I had been considering ribs for this weekend’s cook, but I decided to go with pork shoulders. Costco sells them in 2-packs, and that always guarantees enough leftovers to get us through the week, and still lets us set aside some to vacuum seal and freeze for a rainy day.

I still consider myself a novice at grilling and smoking, so I don’t really have a standardized go-to method when I get down to it. I do try to be consistent in cooking to temperature, but other than that, I try different things. I may use different smoke woods or a different rub recipe. Maybe someday I’ll have my favorites that end up being standards, but for now, anything goes. I don’t mind that.

I trimmed the shoulders, but surprisingly, they didn’t need all that much trimming…at least not compared to what I had been used to. The two shoulders were a bit over fifteen pounds together and I shaved off less than a pound of fat to start. That made my job a little bit easier.

With the fat trimmed away, it was now time for a rub. Normally, I might whip up a batch of a recipe I found online, but this time around, I went with what I had on-hand, which was the “Original Rub” from Mr. Bevis BBQ. My buddy, who resides in the KC area, sent me up a pound as a gift awhile back. It’s good to have friends like that, huh? I first rub the meat with yellow mustard, which acts like a glue for the rub to adhere to. Some people use oil. Some use nothing at all other than the rub itself. I find the mustard application fun for some reason, so that’s what I usually do. Then applied the rub. I made sure to get at all the nooks and crannies before I tied them up to keep them in a uniform shape for the cook session. That step is a pain in the ass, but it is necessary for even cooking.

pork shoulders rubbed and ready for smoke
pork shoulders rubbed and ready for the smoker

Then, I let the meat sit wrapped in the fridge for the rest of the afternoon. Around 8:00 that night, I got a chimney of charcoal started and by 8:30, I was off to the races. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing my longer cooks overnight because it seems like if I wake up early to start cooking, it’s never done by dinner, and that makes me sad. An overnight cook may cause me to lose a little sleep, but it’s so worth it knowing that it will not only be ready by dinner, but it very well could be ready for lunch as well.

I babysat the smoker for a few hours, and when I was satisfied that everything looked good, I headed to bed. I woke up every couple hours to check my temperatures and the viability of my remaining coals. Around 4:30, I added a few more handfuls of unlit charcoal and fired up another partial chimney. A good bark was forming, but my temperatures had a way to go still. A got a little more sleep here and there for the next five hours. Then, around 10:30 in the morning, after about fourteen hours in the smoker, i was getting consistent temperatures of about 190, which is where I wanted them. It was time to pull them from the heat to be wrapped and rested, which I did for about two hours.

It was indeed ready to go by lunchtime, so that was nice. This was Sunday afternoon. It’s Wednesday now and we’ve pretty much eaten pork twice a day ever since. Tonight, instead of the standard method of enjoyment, which is basically served with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and cornbread, we’re switching it up. Tonight folks, is pork taco night. I think the pork, with a little onion, cilantro, Cotija cheese and sweet Thai chile sauce might go really good together on a few corn tortillas.