A couple weeks ago our good friend and chef extraordinaire gave me and Mr. BaconBaking a gift. A brand new charcoal smoker. While we enjoy grilling on our propane grill the traditional burgers, brats, dogs, and chicken, this was a mighty big culinary step.
This weekend Lesbopeep and I tried out the smoker while Mr. BaconBaking worked on his school project. Our first culinary adventure was a smoked pork shoulder.
After reading every website I could find, we decided to use 100% hardwood briquettes—not the self-starting ones. I only used lighter fluid to get the fire started, but let the fire burn for a solid 20 minutes to get rid of the lighter fluid. While I was getting the fire started, I left the pork out on the counter for like 45 min to an hour with a homemade dry rub. The rub was a mix of brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, oregano, and thyme. I was told not to put tooooo much rub on, but you can see how much I used.
Keeping the temp up was the hardest part for me. Anytime I threw in more charcoal the temp would dip. I was told that I should make a small fire in an old coffee tin with holes in the bottom and throw in hot burning briquettes instead of cold ones and then the temp wouldn’t dip. I’m lazy, and that sounded way difficult for my first go at it. I was also told I should have spritzed the pork with apple cider to keep the pork moist, but the smoker we have has a water bowl and I made sure that was at least ½ full throughout the entire process. It was a little tricky to refill the first time, but after you get the angle and such you are golden.
It took about 7 hours to come to 180 degrees. (7 brutal brutal hours of tanning on the patio, chatting and catching up on reading. Smoking is hard work.) 180 was good for slicing and falling apartness, but not quite to pulled porkness. I think you have to be up to 190 to 200 for that and I got a late start. After we took it out of the smoker, we let it rest for a solid 30 minutes. I read it should rest for at least 30 min-1 hour. That is a brutal part of the process because you want to dive in.
I was super excited that I had a smoke ring (the red edge right under the bark) and that while I sliced the pork, it was really starting to fall apart. We ate the pork straight up with BBQ sauce the first night, the second night it was tacos…with homemade tortillas of course, and tomorrow I’m going for a smoked pork pizza.