Friday, September 6, 2013

Picnic Shoulder Trifecta: Brined, Smoked and Baked To Perfection!

My family and I have always enjoyed fresh picnic shoulder, especially on Sundays and for the some holidays or special occasions.  Economy was of importance as per family size and it was generally prepared the same way, which was either boiled or baked.  I enjoy both methods, but I literally wanted to bring something new to the table and arrived at quite a wonderful outcome.  The end result of this recipe was then trimmed of excess fat, then sliced and some shredded, tossed with store-bought and doctored bbq sauce and mounded atop soft buns for a fantastic and flavorful meal to remember.  I got rave reviews for this dish, which I served with coleslaw,  turnip greens and  baked macaroni and cheese for a Sunday Fun-day!  The brine above is similar to the one I used for this recipe, so I included it for dexterity.  The shoulder is brined for 48 hours in the refrigerator, then smoked for 6 hours and baked until tender, about  2 1/2 hours.  The size plays heavily on these figures, so the smaller the shoulder, the less time for each process.  Worth the time and definitely worth the effort times 10!
1 8 1/2 lb. fresh picnic shoulder, skin on
2 c. water
1 c. kosher salt
1 c. sugar
1 c. fresh herbs, like oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
1/2 large onion
2 tbsp. hot pepper paste
1 tbsp. each lemongrass paste and sambal oelek
juice of 1 lime
2 banana peppers, whole
1 tsp. allspice
fresh cracked black pepper
6 c. ice cubes or ice cold water
olive oil for drizzling
Combine all ingredients except shoulder and bring up to a boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then add ice.
Pierce shoulder with a knife all over and place in 7 3/4 quart Dutch oven or other suitable vessel and pour over pork.  Refrigerate and brine for 24 to 48 hours. 
Pour off brine, pat shoulder dry and rub with olive oil.
Sear, skin side down until golden over direct heat of grill, then flip.
Smoke over indirect heat on the for 6 hours. 
Wrap in foil and place back in Dutch oven and bake cooked through and tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Trim excess fat and slice or shred as desired.
Photo before brining.
Photo after smoking.

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