It seems like everyone who isn’t a vegetarian loves barbecued pork. In our Manic travels, we think we’ve had some of America’s best, from the chopped, whole-hog Q of East Carolina to Texan sliced pork shoulder.
For our first attempt at smoked pork, we decided to combine the best of those two traditions. Serious barbecue requires smoke and patience, and we wanted to learn both. How did we do? These photos should speak for themselves.
Note: If you’re thinking about trying this yourself, there are some detailed notes after the photos.
Trimming the fat:
Adding dry rub the night before:
Making East Carolina dip the night before:
Soaking hickory chips:
Chris, drinkin’ a beer, with charcoal hands:
Smokin’, 3 hours in, while Melisa Jean sews in the background:
Glowing coals just after sunset:
Micah arrives, bearing beer:
Hitting 180 degrees:
Pullin’ and Shreddin’:
Detailed BBQ notes: We used a Smithfield 9lb bone-in shoulder, purchased at a local supermarket. Though East Carolina purists would hate us for it, we cut away about 1.5-2 lbs of fat and skin because we really don’t need to eat that stuff. We rubbed the brisket with black and white pepper, salt, and paprika, and let it sit overnight.
For the smoke, we used a combination of Royal Oak and Cowboy hardwood charcoal. To add serious smoke flavor, we also used two bags of hickory chips, which we soaked in water and then burned during the first four hours of the smoke. This worked unbelievably well, permeating the meat without being overpowering or acrid.
Since we removed the fat and skin, it took just over 8.5 hours for the inner part of the shoulder (near the bone) to reach 180 degrees. The smoker (a modified Char Griller Smokin’ Pro) ran between 200 and 250 degrees the whole time, depending on the usual variables (cover open/closed, air supply, new fuel added, etc.).
About halfway through the smoke, we started basting the shoulder with our dip–an authentic, simple, East Carolina dip of cider vinegar, Texas Pete, red pepper flakes and a little sugar.
As most sources suggested, the barbecue pulled perfectly once it hit 180 degrees. Rather than slicing any of the shoulder Texas-style, we pulled everything, mixing dark chunks from the “brown outside” with the more succulent inner meat. Then, we splashed in some of our dip. As is the norm in East Carolina, the flavor combination was an absolute home run.
Text and Photos: Rob Bellinger
September 30, 2012