Before I left for my Southern Expedition in January to pick up the Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse that I had won in a blog contest, I was in a local grocer and they had NY Whole Pork Shoulders on sale for 99 cents a pound and I bought a 17 pound’er and stuck it in my freezer.
Last weekend I defrosted the hunk of pig and on Sunday she went into the smoker. I also had the opportunity to test out my Ro-man Pork Puller which if you have not heard of this it is an attachment that goes on to a drill to pull the pork in seconds! (Insert Tim the Toolman Taylor grunting sounds here)
But we will get to that later in the post. First we need to prepare the shoulder for smoking.
After measuring the length of the shoulder I found that it would not fit on a single shelf of the smoker so out came a knife and a hack saw to cut her in half.
The reason for the Hacksaw was that there is a thick bone in the center. Do not forget to rinse the meat with cold water so that you do not have any bone fragments. Once that was done I wanted to trim away most of the skin and fat off the top. Now some say it is best to leave it on and smoke the shoulder with the fat side up so that as the fat melts it will baste the meat on its own but at the same time seasonings and rub will not penetrate fat. I asked around for advice from many friends that know a lot more than I and it was a 50/50 split on trim or not to trim.
Looking at all of the marbling in the meat (which means there are fat pockets in side) plus the fact that I was going to inject the shoulder too, I decided to trim away the fat cap.
For the injection I decided on a mixture of Apple Juice, some of the Pig Pen’s rub/seasoning that I was using on the outside and also some Worcestershire Sauce.
I injected about half of that bottle of Juice mix about every inch or two with the syringe. Because this meat was being pulled later there was no reason to be careful with needle direction but if your injecting something like brisket then you want to inject with the grain so that you do not show needle marks when carving into slices.
Next step in this process was to coat the meat with a little bit of prepared mustard which does nothing for the taste but rather it gives the spices something to adhere to.
Using my hands to spread the mustard on all sides of the meat and then rub in some Seasoning/Rub and in this case I used Pig Pen’s Original Seasoning that comes from Salisbury, North Carolina which has Salt, spices, sugar,garlic powder, and onion powder as it’s listed ingredients.
After the Pig Pen’s I added some Turbinado and Brown sugar to the outside of the shoulder which will add a little sweetness and give a nice bark as it smokes.
Looking at the pic below I bet you think it is already cooking but know the spices and the sugar gave it that great colour and texture as the sugar started to liquidfy.
At this point the meat get wrapped up with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
The next morning I took the meat out of the fridge, letting it get a bit towards room temp for 15 or 20 minutes while the smoker was brought up to temperature.
I set my smoker to a temperature of 235F with a cooking time of 12 hours, That is the great thing about the Masterbuilt Smoker, It’s electronic control board allows for exact settings.
I used a meat probe that is built into the smoker and reads out on the top of the smoker with the press of a button.
For pulling an internal meat temperature of 195 to 205F produces the best results and on this day I was aiming for 200F
The meat rose to 140 pretty quick about 4 hours in and then stalled a couple of times after that, when that happens you need to be patient, do not give in to an urge to raise the temperature settings of the smoker, it will rise agin on it’s own in good time. After about 8 or 9 hours the reading got up to about 170F and I then wrapped the meat in tinfoil and continued to cook it in the smoker for another hour or so until my desired 200F was produced. During the cook every couple of hours I sprayed the meat with apple juice.
After taking the foil wrapped meat out of the smoker I transferred it to a insulated box (in this case a picnic cooler) and let the meat rest for an hour which is very important because otherwise the meat will be dry when you pull it.
Now we can unwrap the meat and pull out the bones (which will pull out with little resistance) and Now I get to use my power tool (more grunting noises)
Here is the fun part!, I get out my Ro-man Pork Puller which is a very well made tool that kind of reminds me of a paint mixer. It is 15 inches ling and the disc is 5 inches wide with 8 2inch long spines that are 3/8″ thick and made of sturdy but lightweight aluminum with a stainless steel shaft that goes into a standard drill, I used a cordless one for this which my battery was pretty weak but yet still had more than enough power to do the job. I found the tool to be very easy to use, caused only minor scraping marks on the pot and was very well balanced. I have seen reviews on Bear Claws which are a good product from what I saw and does a decent job but the pork puller is so much faster! you can pull apart a shoulder in under 10 seconds.
This would be a must for RibFest cookers or anyone cooking for a lot of people.
The cost of the Ro-man Pork Puller is $39.95 plus $8.00 shipping in the United States and a little higher in Canada because of the higher shipping costs.
Here is the finished product on a serving plate ready to be made into great Pulled Pork Sandwiches
And here is some video I took of the smoking and you can see the Roman Pork Puller in action.