smoke pork shoulders

Thursday night I started working on a meal I was planning to share tonight. Although I had low expectations for the outcome (by my own skewed measure) I was certain that my work would be appreciated by those taking part. A trip to the grocery store yielded not my ideal take of pork shoulder, but at least the two lumps of meat I acquired were bone in.

I cut open the packages, and removed the outer layers of fat from each shoulder. One of them had a layer of fat running between the muscled slabs that made up the roast and I had to debate whether I wanted to leave it there and create a more consistent cut of meat once it was prepared, or remove it and have more bark. I settled somewhere in the middle of that equation and cut a V shape into the meat removing a solid portion of the fat, but without creating much separation along the muscle.

With both shoulders now trimmed, the next thing to do was add the rub. I have a recipe for a rub that I've been working on for a few years that makes my shoulders delicious, if I do say so myself. While the ratios and method of the rub are closely guarded (not really), the contents are fairly standard with brown sugar, paprika, garlic, black pepper, ginger, and a few others that vary from mix to mix. I generally ground all of this together into a fine powder and then can roll the meats across a bed of the mixture before using my hands to get the powder covering all of the nooks and crannies. Then the meat sits for a day or more to soak it all in.

Last night, I pulled out the smoker, got it hovering around 205º, and in went the meat. Depending on a lot of factors, the meat may be in the smoker anywhere from 12 to 28 hours, and on a few occasions even less when weather was uncooperative. This time, however, my target was nineteen hours, and I wasn't going to touch the meat or even open its smoking chamber to rotate it even a little. Part of it was the fact that the temperature outside was hovering around 4º, part of it that I wanted prove to myself that with shoulders of this size it wasn't necessary.

I was not disappointed. Just before one I removed the two shoulders from the smoker, brought them in to rest on the cutting board, and marveled at the look and smell. As they rested before shredding, one of the shoulders collapsed against its own weight (and maybe I might have plucked a piece to try). Oh yes, this was going to be good.

What used to be two 3.5# shoulders

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