Butt what? That’s actually pork shoulder. Whatever you call it, smoke it.

Posted on July 15, 2015

G@H: Smoked Pork Shoulder Sandwich

Across the globe, a diversity of cultures revere pork shoulder. It’s used for carnitas in Mexico and bo-ssam wraps in Korea and pork ragu in Italy. Wherever you may find yourself, if the people there eat pork, look for a dish with pork shoulder. It guarantees to satisfy.

Why? Well, anthropology, we suppose. Historically, the rich could afford the choice cuts—those naturally tender and easy to prepare. The poor settled for leftovers, like pork shoulder, but they transformed those leftovers—using care, patience and ingenuity—into pure delight.

Pork shoulder has a large amount of connective tissue. If you tried to prepare it quickly like a pork chop, it would prove nearly inedible and leave you with a weary jaw. But if you cook it low and slow, it transforms into the definition of delicious. That connective tissue melts into gelatin. And, the meat becomes pull-apart tender and succulent.

The cut of pork shoulder is often called, “Boston butt” or “pork butt.” Don’t be fooled; this meat comes from nowhere near the rear. The name, instead, relates to how the cut was packed in colonial America.

We love pork spareribs. But Boston butt may be the cut best suited for smoking. Just ask North Carolinians who rely on it for their famed pulled pork. We hail from Kansas City, but we too can participate in the fun.

Here’s our recipe for Kansas City-style smoked pork shoulder.

1. Visit your local butcher and procure a Boston butt.

G@H: Kansas City-style pork shoulder with G@H's special rub

2. Liberally apply the rub and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Our rub has these ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

3. Smoke at 220°F. Every hour inject the meat with this concoction:

  • 2 parts apple juice
  • 1 part brown sugar (dissolved)
  • 1 part salt (dissolved)

This Rösle Marinade Injector comes in awfully handy.

G@H: Kansas City-style pork shoulder in the Bradley Smoker

4. When the the meat reaches an internal temperature of 170°F, wrap it in aluminum foil. Turn smoker to 250°F and finish meat to 190°F for chucks and 200°F for shreds.

G@H: Kansas City-style pork shoulder wrapped in aluminum foil

5. Let meat cool at least 30 minutes.

G@H: Kansas City-style pork shoulder. Ready for action.

6. Tear meat apart to desired consistency. We prefer chucks to shreds.

Kansas City-style pork shoulder with G@H's special rub

The entire process takes a little over one hour per pound of meat. We use a Bradley Digital Smoker.

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