Pork shoulder questions.

Discussion in 'Pork' started by daniels, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. I'm about ready to try my hand at smoking a pork shoulder or two.

    I'm seeing conflicting information on internal temperature.  Some say 170°F, others say 190°F, and some say 205°F.  I want this for pulled pork.  What internal temperature should I shoot for to get a fall apart shoulder?  The higher the better?

    I think it's pretty much standard to smoke it at 225°F.  That right?

    Some say to plan on 1.5 hours per pound and others say 2 hours per pound.  I see people doing a shoulder in 6 or 7 hours while others take 14 to 17 hours.  I figure just do it as long as it takes to get to the right internal temperature.  That sound right?

    To foil wrap or not to foil wrap?

    Mainly though I want to know what internal temperature to shoot for.

    I know these are personal preference type questions to some extent and I don't want to open a can of worms but any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Smoke Butts until the Bone wiggles loose and a probe slides in all over with no resistance. This usually happens around 205. At this point the meat is done and will pull easily with a 20-30 minute rest on the counter. If the meat is done and the rest of the meal is not, you can wrap in foil, towels and go in a cooler for up to 5 hours or so. IT of 170-190 is the temp for Sliced meat.

    For max Bark, smoke straight through. This will take about 2 hours per pound at 225-250. I add 2 hours to this estimate for a stall or other unforeseen. You can save some time by smoking to an IT of 165, foiling with some liquid, apple juice, cola, foiling juice and finishing the cook in the smoker or Oven. Once foiled no more smoke is getting to the meat and the added moisture protects from drying so might as well use the Oven and raise temp to 300°F and finish cooking to an IT of 205 then rest. This will trim a few hours off the cook.

    Finishing Sauces add flavor and moisture. Below are my Finishing Sauces that are popular...JJ

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses

    Optional: 2T Apple Cider Vinegar. Add 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more of a KC Glaze.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork:  Make a Double batch, skip the Butter.

    If you plan to Foil the meat, add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

    Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

    At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

    Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten, the meat should be shiny and juicy but not swimming in sauce. Serve while hot...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

    If you choose to Not Foil or Pan the Butt. Add the Finishing Sauce to the pulled meat before serving. Add the hot Finishing Sauce a little at a time until the Pork is moistened, again the meat should be shiny but not swimming in sauce.

    When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.

    I was AMAZED...No additional sauce needed. ENJOY...JJ

    Tangy Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    This is more of an Eastern North Carolina style Finishing Sauce...

    2 C Apple Cider Vinegar

    2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste

    1/4C Brown Sugar

    1T Smoked Paprika

    2 tsp Granulated Garlic

    2 tsp Granulated Onion

    2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper

    1 tsp Celery Salt

    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flake. Add more if you like Heat.

    1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

    Combine all and whisk well. This is a thin sauce, bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Adjust sweetness by adding Brn Sugar or additional Vinegar as desired...Makes about 2 Cups.

    For a Lexington Style Dip  add, 1/2C Ketchup and 1-3tsp Red Pepper Flakes...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
  3. ghunt

    ghunt Fire Starter

    I never do a full shoulder generally because I don't want to have to wait on it all day, and I usually don't need that much meat.

    I like to pick up half picnics which are about 5-6 lbs, and I can pretty reliably get them done in 5 to 6 hours (usually just do one).

    What I do is smoke it for 2 hours, then put it in a foil roasting pan with some liquid as described above, seal up with foil, and cook for 3-4 hours. Usually temps are around 200 the whole time. It comes out awesome every time, tender and never dry.

    I made one last summer, and when I put it in the roasting pan I put in some apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and some Redd's Hard Apple. After it was all done cooking and shredded up I found myself pulling off pieces and dunking them in the leftover juice in the roaster pan-it tasted AMAZING. I'm assuming a little dry rub got mixed in there along with the meat juices but it was better than any barbecue sauce, period.
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I like an IT of about 205° too.

    Here's a Step by Step with all notes included:
  5. ghunt

    ghunt Fire Starter

    I actually never use a thermometer...I do the "wiggle test" and if it doesn't look quite done I put it back on for a little while...never had an issue. My thermometer broke and I never replaced it because I haven't really felt like I needed it.
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Depends on your smoker.

    If you use an enclosed smoker, like an MES, you don't want to open the door to jerk around on the bone.

    We use a wireless digital Therm, and we know when to pull it without opening the door.

  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Daniel, you can't go wrong following Chef JJ or Bearcarver's advice.  Personally I'm in the hot n fast camp these days (300-325F) and usually finish in 45 minutes to an hour / pound.  I've served low n slow and hot n fast.  People raved about both so I save time and go hot n fast.  

    That said, if you've never cooked a shoulder before, definitely go low n slow.  You have a bigger window for perfection.  203-205 IT is the target for pulled pork.   

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