I start with either a bone in, whole or half pork shoulder (also known as a Boston Butt). Remove it from the refrigerator in the morning so it can come to room temperature. The grilling process takes several hours, so I usually try to get it started at lunchtime, if I’m planning on serving it for dinner.
I use a Weber kettle grill and indirect heat for my barbequing, as I love what the smoke adds to the flavor. I put a layer of about twenty unlit briquettes along one side of the bottom grate. I then fill a chimney to light some briquettes. It usually takes about 30 minutes to get them ready and I use that time to soak a couple of hickory chips (not too small or they’ll burn) in water and cover the entire pork shoulder with a dry rub. My preference is Rustic Rub from Emeril Lagasse and I’ve posted the recipe below.
When the briquettes are all hot and ashy, I pour them over the crescent of briquettes. For ease of clean up later, I put down an aluminum pan for drips in the open side of the bottom grate and replace the top grate and lid. Now it is time to go and get the pork, not forgetting to clean and oil the now heated grill before putting the meat down over the drip pan. If there is a cap of fat, make sure it is on top, so as it heats and melts it will keep the meat from drying out.
It is important that the openings on the top grill grate are over the briquettes and the vent holes on the bottom and top of the grill are open all the way.
I walk away for thirty minutes. When I come back out, I rotate the meat a quarter turn and start another chimney of briquettes. When they are ready (about thirty minutes), I put down about five or so unlit briquettes and then cover with the lit ones. After another thirty minutes, I come back out to drop in a few more unlit briquettes and another hickory chip or two.
From this point on, I normally need to add a few more unlit briquettes every 30 minutes or so, just to keep the fire from getting too low. I also continue to rotate the meat so it gets beautiful on all sides. Typically, it takes about an hour per pound, so plan on starting early when you’ve got a big hunk of meat.
The meat is done when the bone is loose enough to pull out. For the fussy folks, the internal temperature should be about 185 degrees. While the meat will be done and okay to eat at 160, it will be a little dry as all the collagen in this cut of meat doesn’t break down until around 175 degrees. It might seem counterintuitive but, if you want to be able to pull apart the meat, aim for 190 and there are some people who let it go over 200.
The meat should rest for thirty minutes once it has been taken off the heat. At that point, it can be cut into chunks or just pull it apart with a couple of forks or your bare hands.
I don’t sauce the meat – I let my guests add what they want. I do make coleslaw and baked beans for serving. My coleslaw recipe is super simple – shred half a head of cabbage and then add mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Make ahead so the flavors come together.
1 large can pork and beans – go for original recipe
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
Measurements for brown sugar and ketchup are guesstimates. Mix well and bake uncovered in a casserole dish for an hour or so at 350 degrees, until they have thickened.
8 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons cayenne
5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
6 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Yield: 2 1/4 cup