I love the summer. A hot day spent poolside with the smell of BBQ in the air is as close to perfect as it gets. In our household I do not even get to look in the direction of the grill let alone operate it, that honor is reserved for Brett. So I bought myself a smoker and set out to create something delicious.
In the end, I created the perfect bite of summer. One that any first-time adventurer can step up to the smoker and produce.
- 10 lb Pork Shoulder Butt *** For a first-time smoker, I selected this cut of meat because of the high-fat content. I assumed it would be forgiving and not dry out. I was correct!
- Yellow Mustard
- Smoked Paprika
- Table Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- Charcoal Smoker
- Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes (16lb bag)
- Charcoal Fluid *** Not lighter fluid
- Cherry Wood Chips
- Basting Brush
- Aluminum Foil
- Meat Thermometer
- Gloves *** I used heavy leather gloves to prevent burns
APPLE BOURBON SLAW INGREDIENTS
- 1 Head Purple Cabbage
- 1 Granny Smith Apple
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- Black Sesame Seeds
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Granulated Sugar
Step 1: PREPARING YOUR PORK
Begin with a fresh pork shoulder butt, not frozen. Coat the pork with a generous layer of yellow mustard. This acts as a binding agent; it will not give your pork a mustard taste. Apply the spice mixture over the top of the mustard layer. I did not rub it into the mustard, I simply sprinkled a heavy coat with my fingers on all sides of the pork.
Dry Spice Mix:
In a small mixing bowl combine the following ingredients.
- 2 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
TIP: Easy Handling
The cookie sheet turned out to be my best friend in this process. It made transporting the pork easy, came in very handy at the foil stage, and after resting I shredded the pork directly on it.
Step 2: PREPARING YOUR SMOKER
I love the smell of Charcoal; it reminds me of being a kid and camping with my parents. When I started looking for a smoker, I knew that I wanted charcoal. I also knew that I could lose interest in this pretty quickly if it turned out that I did not have the aptitude to produce anything edible. And let’s face, as a first-time smoker, I had nervous visions of creating a massive fireball. In the end, I purchased a Dyna-Glo 36” Vertical Charcoal Smoker . It was a fair price point for my gamble and I was happy with the specs.
- I began by igniting about 30 briquettes and allowing those to become light gray in color. I kept the smoker doors open for a few minutes to burn off any charcoal fluid without trapping it inside of my smoker. After about 5 minutes, I closed the doors and added a handful of cherry wood chips.
- At the same time that I added my wood chips, I sprayed the rack surface with a non-stick spray and sat my pork directly on it to begin its smoking journey.
TIP: Wood Chips
I placed about 5 handfuls of wood chips in water to soak. I did this approx. 30 mins before igniting my smoker. I allowed the chips to soak throughout the day, only pulling out what I needed to refresh my heat source.
Step 3: TEMPERATURES & TIMES
I anticipated needing 60-90 minutes of cooking time per pound of pork. I began at 9:30 am and pulled out a PERFECT pork shoulder butt at 7:30 pm.
Temperature control was the hardest part of this experience. I was shooting for a temperature of 225 after reading that low and slow was the way to go. I never got to 225, my temp was much higher. I anguished most of the day, adjusting my airflow and trying to get the temp down to 225. In the end, my pork was so perfect that I would not change a thing.
My first hour was spent at 350. After that, my smoker temperature fluctuated between 275 – 325. I noticed the temperature spikes after I added additional wood chips and briquettes, so I only added about 8-10 briquettes and a small handful of wood chips at a time. I needed to add those about every 90 minutes as my briquettes turned to ash and vanished.
Step 4: THE 6 HOUR MARK
At the 6-hour mark, I removed my pork from the smoker and wrapped the entire thing in aluminum foil. It was still cooking and not yet falling apart so it was easy to do. Before I wrapped it, I checked the internal temperature of the meat, it was at 166 F.
You want a finish temp of 190 F.
Step 5: THE FINISH LINE
At the 10-hour mark, I removed the pork opened the foil and took another internal temperature reading. I was now at 216 F. Cooking was finished. I allowed the pork to rest before pulling it apart. It was so tender and moist that the bone pulled away without resistance and the pork shredded easily.
TIP: The pink ring!
I was surprised to see a pink ring inside my pork… I have since come to learn that it is the smoke ring of SUCCESS!! You want to see that ring, it is a sign that you have done well and amazing flavor awaits you.
Step 6: APPLE BOURBON SLAW
I love how bright flavors play with the smokiness of BBQ. I went for some of my pantry favorites and created a slaw that was perfect. The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can add more or less of an item to reach a flavor profile that is perfect for you.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the following and stir.
- ½ head thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1 thinly sliced granny smith apple
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
Although the slaw can be served right away, I enjoyed it even more on day two. I also loved it served very cold.
Step 7: THE ULTIMATE PULLED PORK SANDWICH
Try as I might to not eat bread, I found some amazing rolls that were screaming to be topped with pulled pork. I toasted the roll before adding the pulled pork and apple bourbon slaw. Everything came together perfectly to create the perfect bite of summer.
...one bite was not enough :)
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