How do you smoke a perfect pork shoulder and win over the hearts and stomachs of your guests? Time, a little effort and a whole lot of attention is how. Smoking pork shoulders has been the staple of the pulled pork barbecue industry for more years than we can count and is the key staple for any professional smoker. The best part is you don’t have to be a professional to get professional results. Invite some guests over for an afternoon and follow these easy steps. Get ready for all the high-fives you’ll be getting after the feast has ended.
To smoke a pork shoulder, you will need:
- Seven to twelve pound pork shoulder
- Medium sized bottle of apple cider vinegar
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- 12 ounces of your favorite barbecue sauce
- A bag of your favorite sandwich buns
- Your smoker
- A smoker thermometer
- A meat thermometer
- Fuel for your smoker (charcoal, propane, or wood)
- 10 chunks apple wood
- A very large zip-lock bag
- A spray bottle or large basting brush
How to prepare and smoke your pork shoulder:
- Marinate the pork shoulder. The night before your barbecue, rinse your pork shoulder and drain well. In a large bowl add ½ the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and pepper and mix well. Place the pork shoulder inside the large bag, pour in the marinade, seal and refrigerate over night.
- Set up your smoker. Outside, in a clear area, set up your smoker, light your fuel and preheat to 225 degrees. Keep your smoker within plus or minus 15 degrees of this target temperature throughout the smoking process.
- Smoke the pork shoulder. While the smoker is pre-heating this would be a great time for the pork shoulder to be removed from the refrigerator and set aside to rest for about an hour. Drain excess marinade from the shoulder and place in the smoker bone side down. Remember to avoid direct heat from the fuel, your smoking the shoulder not grilling it. Place two chunks of wood on the fuel to begin the smoking.
- Smoke all day. Watch your smoker, when the smoke begins to subside continue to add one or two chunks of wood throughout the smoking process. Add too much wood and you will definitely ruin the shoulder and too little wood will leave your guests wanting more flavor.
- After about 3 hours it’s time to check on the shoulder’s progress. Place the remaining vinegar in your spray bottle or bowl if using a basting brush. Every hour from this point squirt or brush the entire shoulder with a good coating of vinegar. Basting is essential to keep the shoulder moist and even out the cooking.
- Is it done yet? Your pork shoulder will smoke for about seven to twelve hours. But the key to being done is the internal temperature. When placing your meat thermometer into the shoulder, the temperature should be about 180 to 190 degrees to be completely done. Once done, remove from the smoker and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Pull the meat from the bone. Using your hands or forks, simply pull the pork from the bone, shredding as you go. Be careful when pulling as the pork will be very hot. Place desired amounts on the buns, smother in sauce and enjoy. This can also be enjoyed simply by piling a large amount on the plate and dig in.
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