We have some people coming over today, so naturally I fired up the BGE... last night. I cooked a Costco pork shoulder pack, and I was so happy with how it came out I thought I'd write down what I did. After all, these are the posts I like reading most.
Building the fire
Note that I have a High Queue grate in my Large BGE. I've been very happy with it, and never have a problem getting to high temps or maintaining low temps.
I poured in Royal Oak, large to small sized pieces. I layered in cherry chips a few times, since they were right there by the BGE, and I also built a column of apple chunks up the middle. This seemed to do a pretty good job of keeping smoke on throughout the cook.
I used an electric starter jammed in the top of the pile and left it on for 4-5 minutes. Then I put in the plate setter, shut the vents down to almost nothing and let it coast for about 45 minutes. It got up to about 200F, which is about what I expected. This is my standard method for starting a low & slow. I much prefer the electric to using the chimney starter.
Prepping the meat
I took the pair of Costco pork shoulders out of the packaging. They did not have a very thick fat layer, so I didn't do any trimming at all. Each shoulder got 4-5 garlic cloves jammed in it. I made slits with a knife--no specialized tool in the arsenal yet. Then, I covered each shoulder liberally with Butt Rub. I put my probe in the thickest part of the biggest piece.
The meat went on at about 10:30 PM, fat side up. I opened the vents a tiny bit, shooting for 220-250F. I kept an eye on it til bedtime, around midnight, and then didn't look again until about 9 AM. At that time the internal temp was 160F, and the grill temp was still 220F. The meat was covered in a soft bark. Now, I like bark, but I tend to go for a soft bark that can be entirely eaten rather than a hard bark that results in some meat that's too dry to eat. I also like to cook at a really low temp when I can, because I want a long cook and a lot of smoke flavor. YMMV.
At around 10 AM I started preparing a basting/injection liquid. Into a saucepan I put about 3 cups apple juice, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and a couple of tablespoons each of Worcestershire and Butt Rub. I also put in about 2-3 tsp of fish sauce. I brought the sauce up to a simmer and then turned the heat off while I took off the shoulders and wrapped them in extra-wide Costco foil.
I injected each shoulder haphazardly with a few syringes full of the juice, and then poured the rest of the juice over each piece and pinched the foil mostly shut. I opened the vents, shooting for 300-350F, and the foil-wrapped meat went back on. After a couple of hours I poured a splash of apple juice into the foil, because it seemed like a good idea--I did not want to run out of braising liquid. Presently, the meat hit 195F in a 350F BGE. (Well, the smaller piece hit first, so I stashed it in a cooler for an hour until the big piece was done. Details.)
At this time I shut the vents on the grill and burped it a couple of times, trying to cool the BGE down a bit.
I unwrapped each piece of meat, taking care not to lose the juice in the bottom of the foil pouch. With tongs and forks I shredded each shoulder, picking out inedible chunks of fat. The bark remained quite soft and nearly all of it was shredded and mixed into the meat. I tasted the liquid in the foil, and it was delicious--so into the meat it went. The consistency of the shredded meat was very good, extremely soft with a good mixture of watery and fatty moisture.
After I stirred the liquid into the shredded meat, I poked at the coals and put in some fresh apple and cherry wood. Each pot of meat went back on the grill at about 300F (indirect). I stirred the meat about every 10 minutes for 45 minutes or so. The meat definitely lost a bit of moisture during this step, but it wasn't a big deal and it sure picked up a lot of smoke.
The meat is in the fridge now, but will be reheated in a crock pot in a few hours. It will be served as sandwiches with toasted Costco torta rolls (my go-to, they are delicious when fresh) and coleslaw. I have a home-made eastern NC style vinegar BBQ sauce, and a good store-bought sweet sauce, but this is the first pulled pork I have made that doesn't seem like it needs sauce at all.
Taking care with the design of the basting liquid and mixing it back into the meat was by far the thing that put this batch of pulled pork over the top. In the past I have not used enough basting liquid to have enough eft to mix in, or I have been more haphazard in mixing it so it was too salty or too sweet to add to the meat. The extra smoke step was also new, and also good, but even before the second dose of smoke it was clear this was my best cook yet.
I hope this helps someone else on the journey to pork nirvana!