By Fred Thompson
from his book Grillin' With Gas (Taunton Press, April 2009)
Photography by Ben Fink, courtesy of Taunton Press
Few of us will ever cook a whole hog, but we all have the ability to smoke a pork shoulder. This recipe started out as North Carolina-style barbecue (remember, barbecue is a noun) and has, over the years, evolved from low-and-slow-cooked smoked pork in a vinegary sauce to a meat that works as a base for all the regional sauces, including Memphis and Georgia styles.
The rub in this recipe is more Memphis, and it helps produce a better “outside brown,” those prized bits of char that get chopped into pork barbecue. You might find the use of a Cuban ingredient weird here, but smoked or roasted pork shoulder is a favorite in Cuba. Like so many good recipes, this happened almost by mistake, but as I continued to tinker with it and serve it to a multitude of different people, I found that I might well have hit on the ultimate recipe.
You could use a whole shoulder, a Boston butt or a fresh picnic here. Injecting whole hogs and pork shoulders is all the rage now, with good reason: it helps to keep the pork moist and achieve flavor from the inside out. This makes a lot, but it freezes beautifully.