Here’s a recipe that came from a coworker who goes by the name of “Bubba” at Cabin Fever Sporting Goods in Victoria, MN. Yes, folks named Bubba are a rare commodity in the frigid North Country. His real name is Jeffery, but we’ve already got too many Jefferys running around the place, including the owner, so by using Bubba, everyone knows exactly who you mean.
Bubba is a meat-smoking and sausage-making guru. The stuff that comes out his kitchen and out of his smokers will cause you to consider acts illegal in 36 states to get at it! These are some good eats we’re talking about.
Making this pork shoulder recipe is a SLOW process—in fact, it takes a couple of days, and that’s not counting the day it takes to thaw out the pork shoulder if it’s frozen when you start. The smoking and cooking takes at least 5-6 hours (longer if they are done right), but the quantity of meat this process yields will provide ample leftovers you can use in many ways in camp. That actually makes Bubba’s Simple Smoked Pork Shoulder a versatile recipe for you to use in at least a couple different ways.
First, you could smoke this up ahead of time and use the succulent sliced or pulled pork to prepare quick camp meals all week. The second way to use the recipe is to make it an in-camp project out of it; one in which you can involve your guests all the while building their appetites for the smoked pork feast to come. Make enough, and you’ll still benefit from leftovers that way, too. However, proceed with caution. You may need to stand late-night guard over the larder because, guaranteed, you’ll have guests attempting midnight raids—it’s that good!
- Whole, bone-in, fresh pork shoulder (at least 10 pounds) (And as long as you’re going through this you might want to do 2 or 3 of them depending on how many your feeding that week. The cooked, pulled meat can also be frozen for future use.)
- Morton Tender Quick
- Lots of fresh water
- Your favorite BBQ dry rub—store bought or your own concoction
- Ample supply of your favorite smoking wood chips and chunks
- (Hickory is awesome for pork, but anything works in this recipe.)
- Remote reading meat thermometer
- Large, seasoned cast iron Dutch oven with lid
Preparation & Cooking
- If it’s frozen, thaw the pork shoulder completely.
- Make a brine with the Morton Tender Quick one-third to one-half the strength it says on the package. Make enough brine to completely cover the meat in a cooler. Marinate for 24 hours.
- Put your smoking wood chips and chunks in a separate bucket of water to soak.
- Remove the pork shoulder(s) from the brine. Rinse under fresh water. Pat dry with clean paper towels, then let air dry for a little while, covered lightly with a paper towel. Rub all surfaces of the meat with your favorite BBQ dry rub to taste.
- In the meantime, get whatever you have available for a smoker going. Bring temperature up to 140-150°. Add a couple handfuls of soaked wood chips. Allow smoke to build.
- Place the pork shoulder(s) in the smoker. And make sure you’re pouring the smoke to it early on. Maintain 140° temperature and lots of smoke for 2-3 hours. Keep a close watch on temperature and add wood anytime you see the smoke stop.
- As you approach the 3-hour mark, preheat the Dutch oven with an elevated rack in the bottom to 300°.
- Once you figure you’ve got enough smoke in the meat, remove the shoulder(s) from the smoker and place in the Dutch oven(s). Insert your remote reading meat thermometer and maintain constant 300° baking temperature until the internal temperature of the meat hits 185-190°. This will take another 3 hours or more. Don’t worry about drying it out or making it tough. The smoke crust has sealed in the juices. You’ll know it’s done when you can grab the shoulder blade bone and it pulls right out. The key is reaching this temperature SLOWLY. Don’t rush it.
The outside inch or so of the shoulder will be like finely cured ham. The inside portion will be the finest, most tender pork you ever set on your tongue. If you can’t figure out at least a dozen great ways to serve this up to your camp guests, then you don’t deserve the honor of cookin’ for them!