Using the roasty flavors of an American style Porter into a beer brine, infuses these flavors into a pork shoulder | butt. This Porter Beer Brined Pork Shoulder recipe is perfect for the grill | smoker.
In a large pot over medium heat, add the water, salt, DME, molasses, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, carrots, celery and onion. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes to infuse the flavors. Add ice and cold porter beer to chill the brine to approximately 40°F | 4°C.
Transfer the cooled brine to a large container that will hold both the brine and the displacement of liquid from the pork (about 2 gallons of volume will be needed). Add the pork, placing a plate or some other heavy waterproof item atop the shoulder, weighing it down so that it is completely submerged in the brine and refrigerate for 48 – 72 hours. The general rule of thumb is to brine 12 hours per 1 pound of pork. Each day, rotate the pork to re-distribute the brine over the meat.
Remove the pork from the brine at least 12 – 24 hours before cooking, still keeping it cool in the refrigerator. This will help the meat form a pellicle, which helps the smoke stick to its surface. Remove the pork shoulder from the refrigerator once you start prepping the coals.
Smoked Pork Directions:
If you have a wood fire smoker, start with 2 pounds of charcoal in the coal box. In separate medium-sized bowls, add 3/4 pound of each type of wood chip, adding enough water to cover the chips. Let them soak for 30 – 45 minutes. Once the coals start to show a light layer of white ash on the outside, place a medium-size log of firewood onto the coals and seal the hot box. Place a water pan under the grill rack and the pork on top. This will help keep a moist environment for the pork. Adjust your air intake and the number of coals to keep the temperature between 250°F | 121°C and 275°F | 135°C. Check the coals, adding more firewood periodically, usually every 45 minutes. The pork will cook for 8 to 10 hours at this low temperature. The ideal internal temperature for the pork is 205°F | 96°C when the bone can easily be removed from the meat without any effort.
After 6 hours of smoking, it is time to start layering the smoke flavors. Start by adding the applewood soaked chips | chunks, a small handful at a time, every 20 minutes for an hour. Next, add the cherry wood chips in the same fashion as the applewood. Finally, add the pecan wood chips following the same procedure. The cooking time should be about 9 hours at this point. Thereafter, any remaining wood chips can be mixed together and added every 20 minutes as before. This technique adds extra layers of smoke, creating a “smoke ring,” just under the skin, a true sign of good barbecue. The pork should be dark, almost black in color, and should nearly fall apart at the touch of a fork or knife. Remove the pork from the smoker and transfer it to a platter, letting it sit wrapped in foil for 20 – 30 minutes to redistribute the juices, before cutting or serving.
Each time the door of the smoker and coal box is opened, heat is lost, taking extra time to bring the smoke chamber back to temperature, to cook the meat. Try not to open the door unless necessary, keeping the heat and smoke in the smoker. Follow these instructions and barbecue techniques to achieve mouthwatering, lip-smackin’ barbecue.
Conventional Oven Cooking Directions:
In case you don’t have a smoker, preheat the oven to 250°F | 121°C. Rub 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke into the pork shoulder. Place the pork in the center of a roasting pan on a rack. Place the pan in the center of the oven and cook for 8 hours. The pork should be so tender it almost melts to the touch with an internal temperature of 205°F | 96°C. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 20 – 30 minutes, tented in aluminum foil.
Once the meat has cooked, rested, curiosity and hunger have outweighed the idea of waiting any longer, pull the pork apart into thin strips. Serve in a large bowl. The pork may be served as is, or mixed with the Red Ale Barbecue Sauce or IPA Mustard Sauce recipe. Some prefer to chop the meat into small chunks, others slice the meat like a roast or you could just let the guests “dig in.” Whatever approach is taken, do not trim the smoky crust, aka BARK, that holds most of the smoke flavor. Mixing it into the pulled meat brings the flavor of barbecue to the dish. If the meat seems dry, try adding 4 – 8 ounces of Porter into it.