Welcome back for part 3 in pork cooking exploration! In this segment, as July 4th was upon us, I thought ‘what better way to celebrate Freedom than with slow smoked pork should?’. This time coming to you from the fabled Heartland Retreat Center!
As a recap from last time, there were three big changes recommended to make for the next cook:
- Use shoulder cut for more fat content (Sirloin roast was a bit lean)
- Brine the pork shoulder over night
- Foil earlier in the process to retain more moisture
For the brine, I used an interesting recipe from Traeger Grills
- 8 CUPS APPLE JUICE – Santa Cruz
- 4 CUPS WATER
- 1/2 CUP WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE – Annie’s
- 1 CUP Apple Cider vinegar – Heinz
- 1/2 CUP SALT
- 1/2 CUP DARK BROWN SUGAR
Look at that wonderful FAT!!
Brine lasted for ~12 hours overnight. Why a brine? Long story short; the dissolved salt breaks into positive and negative charged ions, and the negative chloride ions attach to meat filaments. These ions in turn repel each other while on the meat, making room for moisture to set into the meat.
After brining, I went to my stand-by pork rub.
For the grill setup, I again went to the Minion method for charcoal and wood arrangement:
- Vents were set a bit tighter this time, only ~1/4 open
- Initially the temp reading was going up very consistently
- It hit ~155 F after 4 hours and then stalled –
- temp started dropping – closed to vents too tight!
- take lid off, open vents to re-ignite, close down to half way, and foil both pieces
Here they are just before foiling – note the nice bark I’m getting:
After another 2.5-3 hours, internal temp was at 200 F for the larger piece – perfect!
*Remember, you need to get these cuts above 190 F for at least 30-45 minutes so they ‘pull’.
And now for the finished product – the bone pulled right out:
Really nice fat/moisture content
So how did those three changes work? Great!
- Shoulder cut – definitely had more fat = flavor
- Brine – very nice moisture content
- Foil – seemed to retain more moisture
Next time I’ll try foiling only one of the pieces to compare.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. It’s amazing how a few extra steps like brining can bring a much better end product.