A recipe for simple smoked wild pork shoulder
Many of you, especially us northerners trapped in a cold winter, head south to hunt wild boar in milder temperatures after all of our hunting seasons have closed. I hope those of you who do make every effort to bring back all that delicious, organic pork. Even if traveling by plane, the task of getting the meat home is not very complicated. This past February, the family and I vacationed and visited family in Naples, FL. I found a reputable and inexpensive guide on-line, checked references and booked the hunt. What a thrill to slip away for a few hours one morning to hunt wild boars in southern Florida. I was successful, and I managed to fit a boned out, meat hog in a standard sized cooler for the return flight home to Pennsylvania.
Smoked pork shoulder is one of the easiest and most delicious preparations for wild boar. Slow cooking times and low temperatures are the key. I prefer a wood or charcoal smoker for the job, which basically automatically puts you in the low and slow category. If you don’t have a smoker, the process can be completed in your oven but you will miss out on the smoke flavor and unique product that only a smoker can provide.
I have bought and used many smokers over the years and I have settled on two that have seen service for over a decade now. For the charcoal/wood type, I prefer a Weber Smoky Mountain Smoker. I use the Weber for everything from pork shoulders, briskets, turkeys and chickens. In the electric category, the Bradley Original Smoker is my choice. I use the Bradley for sausages, smoked cheese, jerky and anything else requiring precise temperatures. It’s much easier to control the temperature of the Bradley. They are both reasonably priced for the home cook and will provide many years of service. If you can only get one, the Bradley can smoke everything you throw at it.
I also recommend that you pick up a copy of the following books: “Whatcha Need to Know to Barbecue Like a Pro” by Ron Lutz. Ron’s book will cover all the larger cuts like pork shoulders, briskets, turkeys and chickens. He also is very fond of the Weber. If you want to get into sausage making, which you should (it’s so easy), pick up “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” by Rytek Kutas and “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman. I have used these three books constantly over the years for everything from venison, waterfowl, bison, wild boar, wild turkey and fish. I have provided links below where you can purchase them on-line.
OK, lets get on to the pork shoulder recipe. As I said earlier, I am starting with a boned out shoulder but a bone-in specimen is fine if you didn’t break it down that far. You may find recipes that call for a pork butt or Boston Butt for pulled pork. They are referring to the shoulder, not the other end of the animal. If you have the patience, soaking the shoulder in buttermilk over night does wonders to tenderize the meat. In my early smoking years, I skipped this step and had great results but the buttermilk takes it to the next level. Every pork shoulder needs a rub. A rub is a mixture of dry spices that tenderize and flavor the finished product. Here’s the one I prefer and it can be found in Ron’s book:
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup paprika
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl lemonade mix powder
1 Tbl onion powder
2 Tbl black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground thyme
I like to rub the shoulder with yellow mustard to further tenderize the meat and to provide a surface for the dry rub to stick to. No worries if you don’t like mustard, the meat will not retain any mustard flavor at all. Let the shoulder sit covered in the fridge overnight. I prefer to use a food grade, clear, plastic storage bin with a lid for this job. Of course any vessel and plastic or foil wrap will work.
The next day, I prefer to bring the meat to room temperature before putting it in the smoker. Of course I don’t recommend this for turkeys or chicken but from what I have read and experimented with, all red meats benefit from coming to room temperature before cooking to speed cooking time, taste better and be more tender.
You’ll want to have your smoker or oven around 225 degrees and not over 250. A roasting pan with a rack and bottom to catch drippings is probably necessary for you oven users. Place the shoulder fat side up in the smoker and let it go for two hours. Resist the urge to peek as you will let the heat out and slow down the cooking time. I do, however, frequently check on the temperature of the smoker, every thirty minutes or so. I prefer a wireless, remote thermometer for this task because it allows me the freedom to check on the temperature without having to babysit right next to the smoker. Maverick makes a great unit and many of their models can be had cheap on-line. Mine even has the ability to set a timer and an alarm for temperature ranges. It also has two probes which allows me to monitor the smoker temperature and the internal temperature of the meat.
A five-pound shoulder should reach an internal finished temperature of 185-190 degrees in about two to three hours. Of course, there are many factors that determine this, including the type and brand of smoker, outside air temperature, etc., so I suggest you take notes and become comfortable with your set up and before long your results will become more predictable. Be sure to take the internal temperature in a couple of places to be sure it is done.
Once removed from the smoker, cover the shoulder with foil and let it rest for fifteen minutes. I prefer to pull the pork with gloved hands but two forks will work too. If it does not pull easy for you or tastes tough, it needs a little more cooking time. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and sides to complete this world class meal.
There you have it, a simple way to utilize and serve that wild boar that you were lucky enough to get. Wild boars are very overpopulated and have become a real threat to the habitat in many places in the south. But that does not excuse us from killing and wasting the delicious meat they provide. Try this recipe and you, your family and friends will welcome as many wild boars to the table that they can get their hands on.
Copyright 2014 | Brian Halbleib | All Rights Reserved