Pull Your Own Pork

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.

 

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