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Selecting the Proper Pork Butt/Shoulder
How do you determine how to which pork butt/shoulder to select for smoking. I generally use the theory that each person is going to eat
around eight ounces if they have two sandwiches. Some people may select to have pulled pork with no bread they will generally get about three ounces per serving. That being said, you have to determine how many people you will be cooking for. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a pork butt that will provide two to three servings more than the anticipated number of guests.
Look for a pork butt that has a bone that goes all the way through it. This provides more flavor and helps the cooking process. You also need to have a fatcap on one side.
Preparing the Grill
Since you are going to be cooking slowly it takes a little more preparation than it would if you were going to do steaks, hamburgers or hot dogs. I personally lay out my briquettes with one top on top of the other. Everyone has their own method. This is the way I do it since I have the best success with this method. You can either do it in the body of the grill or if you have a fire box then you can use it as well. Once you get your grill to 275 degrees it should if charcoal be covered in gray ash. If it is lump charcoal or hardwood then it should have a good bed of embers that will burn for two or more hours. You want to check your temperature on a regular basis (once an hour). If the temperature gets too hot, then sprinkle some water on it to cool it down. You do not want to use too much since that would reduce the temperature too much and may even stall the cooking process.
Preparing the Pork Butt/Shoulder for Grilling
One of the most important things to do when smoking a pork butt is to season it correctly. You can use a wet marinade or a dry rub. You can use whichever one you prefer. I have had success with both.
If you use a wet marinade then it is best to put it in a pan that has some deep sides to it. Fill it about halfway up. I try not to use a marinade that is full of sodium(salt). You can add different flavors if you like but use one that will go well with whatever wood you are using. If you are going to marinate overnight, it is best to turn it over halfway through the marinating process. You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful time that your guests will talk about for months or years to come. They may even want you to do their grilling for them.
If you are using a dry rub, apply the rub liberally. You can either put it on the grill at that time or let it dry marinate for a few hours so that the flavor of the rub will be infused deeper into the meat. You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful feast.
Grilling The Pork Butt/Shoulder
Now at long last, the time has arrived to get the party started. It is time to put the pork butt/shoulder. You have your grill set at 275 fahrenheit. You shoulder has marinated and smells good even before you put any heat to it. Put the pork shoulder/butt on the grill fatcap up. DO NOT put it on direct heat. Put it on the slow side so that it cooks evenly low and slow. This in not one of those times when you cook fast. You want you pulled pork to moist and tasty. A good rule of thumb is 45 minutes per one pound of meat. Check your temperature periodically if you are using charcoal or wood and add more if necessary. For a pork shoulder/butt that weighs around 9 and 1/2 pounds it will take around 7 and 1/2 hours. Take a thermometer and see if it is registering around 190 fahrenheit. When it reads that temperature take it off the grill to let it rest before pulling.
One last tip, I generally put a pan of solution one-half water and one-half apple juice under the pork shoulder/butt to keep it moist throughout the grilling process.
Your tasty results
Now at long last, you have your pork shoulder/butt off the grill, you need to let it rest. I generally let mine rest around one hour then take my claws to pull it. You will need a large cutting board and a deep aluminum pan to put the meat in. The meat is so tender that in no time at all you have all the meat pulled and torn. You can add some bar-b-que sauce to it if you so desire or leave it plain so your guests can add it later if they so desire.
Enjoy your feast. It was well worth it and your friends will be bragging about your food for months to come.
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