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Low and slow pork shoulder

Good afternoon eggheads - relative newbie here looking for some guidance on my first low and slow cook (ok, not strictly my first low and slow, I did a brisket this weekend but after the way that turned out, I'd rather not speak about that).

So here's the deal:  I've had my egg for a couple of weeks now and have done a number of things on it via direct heat.  I don't mean to brag, but the fiance has been tossing phrases like "best ever" to describe food I've done on the egg :)  This weekend we're planning to have some family over and I'd really like to show off the awesomeness of the egg by doing a pork shoulder.  I'm thinking to get a 6 - 8 lbs shoulder based on the number of people and wanting to have some leftovers.  I'm hoping I can get some suggestions on the following items:

- Rub recipes
- What type of wood, if any would be good to use along with the lump charcoal?
- For a 6 - 8 lbs roast, how long should I plan on cooking this thing?
- I don't as of yet have an electric probe thermometer.  Should I get one before I undertake this venture?
- Finally, some of the stuff I've seen talks about cooking a shoulder for 12 - 18 hours.  This likely means I'd have to start the cook before I go to bed.  How to I setup and start the egg such that I can ensure it's going to cook at a consistent temp overnight and not go out while I'm sleeping?  

I'm sure some of the answers I get here will lead to further questions but that's all I can think of for now.

Thanks in advance for any advice!



  • Welcome ThirteenDaysAWeek! An over night cook (your "first") for family might be a little much to tackle but, good luck if that's what you decide to do. Good job on keeping the fiance happy but, be warned, it often gets harder after the "I dos"  :)
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • vidalia1vidalia1 Posts: 7,092
    Email sent...
  • vidalia1vidalia1 Posts: 7,092
    I like pecan & cherry wood for butts...
  • Thanks for the feedback.  I was sort of wondering if perhaps I might be better off sticking with something I'm comfortable with since I'm cooking for company as opposed to venturing into new territory.  Perhaps I'll save the pork shoulder for the following weekend.
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 14,013
    Your timing for that size roast is on point for 1.5-2 hours. This seems to be the standard for "low and slow". Above all, cook to temp! The butt will be somewhere over 190-195 when the probe will slide in and out "like butter". Test once it gets to 190 and in multiple spots. When I used to cook on a kettle, I never checked temps and went purely by "feel". You don't need a thermo but it makes life a hell of a lot easier. I would say yes to a thermo but it won't kill the cook if you don't. For now get a cheap roasting one that you can just leave in the roast. You will be told to get a Thermapen and/or Maverick but don't go around and get anything rush shipped just or this cook. The Thermapen costs around 90 bucks and the Maverick is 40-50. You may be able to get the Maverick at some place like Lowes or an egg dealer, Thermapen is less likely to be found this way. For what it's worth, I would go a little larger on the roast. It is going to lose 20-30% of it's weight during the cook, so you will end up with a 5 lb roast. Not many leftovers with that. You can do 2, they'll finish in the same amount of time.

    For wood: Hickory, Apple, Cherry, Pecan. Hickory is probably the easiest to find and the most common for pulled pork. I use a combo of hickory and apple.

    For rub recipes, chech out or Chris Lilly's rubs. I haven't made one for pork in a long time since I like testing out different brands. If you get a prepackaged one, Bad Byron's Butt rub, Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust, John Henry, Simply Marvelous and Oakridge are quite popular. You may find Dizzy Pig's BGE-branded one at your dealer. I like a Carolina-style rub with salt, pepper, cumin, sugar(brown and/or turbinado), paprika, chili powder, and cayenne. This is a base that other stuff can be added to it.

    Pork butt is very forgiving so I say go for it. Get the temp locked in at 250-275 for an hour with clean smoke and then put the meat on. Any lower, you run the risk of the fire going out. You can stack the larger pieces of lump at the bottom of the firebox and make sure the air vents are clear and the egg is cleaned out. Once it is finished, you can Foil-Towel-Cooler it to hold for up to 5 or 6 hours. Then pull and enjoy.

    The other option is Turbo-butt. Cook it at 350 for around an hour per pound. You can foil it at 160 to "crutch" it through the stall but this is not always necessary. It can sacrifice bark "crunch" but it helps zoom to temp.

    Good luck. Don't be afraid of it; you'll be surprised how easy it is and guest's will rave about it. Especially if they are future in-laws(this can be a double-edged sword Mr. "best ever").
  • shtgunal3shtgunal3 Posts: 4,005
    Don't shy away from the pork shoulder. I'm putting one on in the morning about 8lbs. My plan is to start around 6 or 7 @ 275-300. Wrap @ 160 then bump temp to 350 until it hits 195. Then FTC



     LBGE,SBGE, and a Mini makes three......Sweet home Alabama........ Stay thirsty my friends .

  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    edited April 2013
    When I got my first egg I had never even heard of pork butt or pulled pork. There is an excellent write up by Elder Ward in recipes (I think) on the whole process. Might even be in three parts. I followed the whole thing on my first butt and it was amazing. Over the years I found that some of it was unneccesary but it's a great way to get your first one perfect. He recommends a dome temp of 225* and you don't need to be that low. 250* to 275* works great and the egg will hold all night long.


    Caledon, ON


  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    It's not in recipes here but I copied it:

    Description: This document is the consolidation of several Club Egg forum posts made by Elder Ward in response to an e-mail asking for detailed directions on his method of preparing North Carolina Style Pulled Pork.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    The opinions and methods expressed here are Mr. Ward's and not necessarily those of the Big Green Egg.

    Ingredients: • See below.


    Instructions: I had an e-mail from one of our own here on this forum that wanted me to write a detailed report on how I would do pulled pork North Carolina style.  I do not hold myself up as the end all on any subject, least of all this one, but in some of my more weaker moments I try to be hu, hum, humb, humbl, OK, humble there I said it.   Anyway as this kind person did not make this request on the net I will mention no names.   After reflecting on the idea it occurred to me that there might be others who would either like to read this or argue every little detail.  I am nothing if not here to please. 

    Since this is not easy because our mutual friend wanted details, and I am wont to go greatly into them, there will be four parts.

    · Fire

    · Rubs & Sauces

    · Cooking

    · Serving


    Part I - The Fire

    This part seems simple but it is the key to successful long term cooking.  Like tying on a fish hook, the details really do matter.  Clean out your egg.  Dismantle it and vacuum or sweep it clean.  Reassemble fire box and fire ring make sure the hole in the fire box is squared with the bottom vent.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use anything but lump charcoal.  NO fast start and NO briquettes.


    Now you're going to think I lost it here, but open your bag of LUMP and separate the coals into three (3) piles. 1) large pieces 2) medium pieces 3) shake & dust.  This last is usually left in the bottom of the bag of even the best lump.


    In your sparkling clean fire box arrange the largest chunk dead center.  This will be the last piece to burn up and, since it can't clog the bottom holes, it will allow the air circulation to remain at a relatively even rate during the entire cooking time.  Place remaining large pieces like a jigsaw puzzle until it appears as even as you can make it with the large pieces.  Next, fill in as many holes and cracks with medium pieces until it looks as even as you can make it.  Then, using the smallest pieces, fill in more of the area.  Last, take all that dust, for lack of a better term, and level out your bed of coals. (do not make a mound, just like I said LEVEL).  Fill to the top of the fire box, but not above.


    DO NOT LIGHT YOUR FIRE NOW.  That will be the last thing we do prior to cooking and I will address that in great detail later.


    We feel this method will start easily and burn at a controlled rate, and as the finer stuff on top turns to ash, most will remain where it was placed.  It will be hard, if not impossible, to clog your air holes until the last of your fuel is gone.  This gives us maximum cooking time and the hottest fire early when we need the unit to reach temperature soonest.


    O.K. gang that is all for now stay tuned,


    Elder Ward







    Part II - Rubs and Sauces

    Here is where we will fight the civil war of flavors till the dawn of eternity and never agree on the out come.  So here is my take on the real mystery of the smoke.  My uncle was a restaurant owner and never added his sauce till just before you ate the pig.  His was damned good pull if I do say so myself but he never thought enough of me to share his secrets.  He did mop the main guest while cooking him to keep him moist.  Since we do not have that problem with our tools I have varied my personal method two ways.  This might seem like a lot of trouble but, if you have never tried it please make both finishing sauces the first time and eat a little of both.  You may be like me and love them equally, like children, one better some days, the other another day, but you still love 'em.


    You don't see mustard used in North Carolina like you do in South Carolina and, as that is JJ's and Mrs. Appledog's bailiwick, I defer that honor to them. (never used the mustard trick till I came here but that is another method, not mine.)



    · 2 Tbs. kosher salt (NEVER use iodized salt, it ruins stuff)

    · 2 Tbs. sugar (I prefer Hawaii raw when I can get it.)

    · 2 Tbs. brown sugar

    · 2 Tbs. ground cumin seed

    · 2 Tbs. chili powder (pure not with garlic etc. added)

    · 2 Tbs. cracked black pepper

    · 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (there is no substitute)

    · 4 Tbs. Hungarian paprika

    · 2 Tbs. ground sage (my secret ingredient)

    Makes 1 cup


    Blend all.  This you will use to cover the raw pork (we started out cooking the red coats in this country a couple of three hundred years ago and we still carry on the tradition today).  Some say to leave it on and wrap it up for hours and/or days in fridge.  Personally I have tried that but can not tell the difference when it has been on only 1 hour.  So hay, if you're into waiting, God bless you.


    (A)The Traditional North Carolina Sauce I grew up with.

    This would be from my mothers side of the family who are a bunch of flatlanders near the coast.  We only came down out of the hills to see them just enough to keep the peace in the family and my mother from running back home for good.  She hated the mountains.  We all loved her folks.


    · 1 C white vinegar

    · 1 C cider vinegar

    · 1 Tbs. sugar (Hawaii style when you can)

    · 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (fresh ones split 2 of em instead soak 2 days or more is best)

    · 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce

    · 1 tsp. kosher salt

    · 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

    Makes 2 Cups


    Place in a bottle with small neck that will allow you to shake it out a little at a time.


    (B)Western North Carolina (Piedmont) style sauce

    · 1 C ketchup (Hot type)

    · 1 C water (bottled plain if you have fluorinated/treated) yuck:~(

    · ¼ C apple cider vinegar

    · 1 onion chopped fine

    · 3 cloves crushed garlic or 1 clove elephant garlic from Gilroy, CA

    · 2 Tbs. brown sugar

    · 2 Tbs. molasses (How can y'all have Mo lasses if you ain't had lasses da furst time?)

    · 2 Tbs. dry mustard (Coleman's English double fine is good)

    · 1 tsp.. cayenne or one fresh cut into ringlets seeds and all.

    Simmer for twenty minutes over low heat.


    OK.  With (A) you can do two things.  If you are going to use a rack and drip pan directly under pork place 1 cup of sauce in the drip pan.  Not my favorite method, but hay, it has applications and you will not have to lift the lid to mop.  Use the balance to eat just before serving.


    (B) Also has two uses.  The last 10 minutes of cooking time you can use it as a glaze.  Again not my favorite but it looks good and taste good, I like to put it still steaming in the middle of the table and dip my piece of pork into it — kind of fondue style.


    More about this later.  Next time I'll be talking about the actual cooking of the pork in as much detail as I can stand. Well good night for now,



    Elder Ward





    Caledon, ON


  • Charlie tunaCharlie tuna Posts: 2,191
    Engaged guys need their rest!!!  Keep it simple.  Look up "turbo cooking butts"!!  Easy-peasy!!  Follow the easy instructions -- at least until after the honeymoon!! 
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Engaged guys need their rest!!!  Keep it simple.  Look up "turbo cooking butts"!!  Easy-peasy!!  Follow the easy instructions -- at least until after the honeymoon!! 
    That's like using a three wood off the tee....cheating


    Caledon, ON


  • Charlie tunaCharlie tuna Posts: 2,191
    Hey, when i used to golf, i was good with the "three wood"!!
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    That is a golf story I have. I'll tell you about it sometime.


    Caledon, ON


  • Dave in FloridaDave in Florida Posts: 1,147
    I would do the pork shoulder or butt turbo style.  They are very forgiving, plus it is some dang good eating.

    Welcome to the Swamp.....GO GATORS!!!!
  • BeaumontyBeaumonty Posts: 185
    I agree with @Dave in Florida. Turbo butt. Pecan. You can start it in the morning, watch it all day, use foil to speed it up or FTC if you go too quick. That was my first choice of methods on my first shoulder/buttt
  • Solson005Solson005 Posts: 1,911
    I think you should go for a Pork shoulder. You already have some great information, I will throw my 2 cents in as well. 

    For a rub I like Bad Byron's Butt Rub  it can be found in lots of places I put the dealer locator page in the link to help you locate it. 

    I like a combo of apple and cherry wood when I do pork about a handful of each. 

    I usually go for a 7-9 lb bone in boston butts but the picnic or boneless butts work great as well. 

    I did a 7 ½ lb bone in boston butt on my small egg for the second time a couple weeks ago and it turned out awesome! Here is a link Pulled Pork and Brisket kind of weekend. 

    I did it at 275° for just under 8 hours. No foil, no injection and it was great. 

    Pulled pork is pretty forgiving and can be great no matter what method you want to use. 
    Large & Small BGE, CGW Two-Tier Swing Rack for BOTH EGGS, Spider for the Wok, eggCARTen & and Cedar Pergola my Eggs call home in Edmond, OK. 
  • QDudeQDude Posts: 667
    Pork shoulders are the easiest cook.  No need for low and slow either.  275 degrees is fine.  I don't think that it will take as long as you think.  I have been doing 9 pounders and they have been done in less than 10 hours.

    Check out the Chris Lilly pork butt recipe that can be found on the web.  There is an injection of apple juice and a few other spices.  May not be needed but it really comes out great!

    A northern Colorado Egghead since 2012!

    XL and a Small BGE.

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,940
    I have a rule which I try hard to not disobey.

    Never cook something for company that you haven't cooked for yourself first.

    the corollary to this is:

    What's "Plan B?"

    Still,  I think that even as a newb, a turbo butt is do-able w. a good chance of success. You might visit the site "Amazing Ribs," for a good overview of how the "turbo" method speeds the cook thru the long stall that a more traditional method, like Elder Ward's, produce. Personally, I find the traditional lo-n-slo to produce a slightly nicer product.

    As a BTW, my experience is that pork picnics, skin off, always cook faster than butts. I cook them at 250 dome, and they usually finish at just a little over an hour per pound.  Slightly less meat yield, but very comparable in taste and texture to butts.

    You might also consider pork loin ribs, aka, baby backs. More expensive, but pretty hard to not get good results, and rarely take more than 5 hours.  They also can be done "turbo," and be done as quick as 3 hours.

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,014
    i like the elderward method but it needs to be tweaked, make a note that you want the dome temp to be between 240 and 270 when your cooking, and he uses way too much sugar in that slaw
    :))  only half the recipe was posted, heres the whole recipe. check on it every 4 to 5 hours and you wont be asking if its safe if the fire went out
  • I'd do the turbo butt also.  If you get it cookin by eight, it should be done by four and allow some FTC time if necessary.  I'm always experimenting with the wood and todays favorite is a mix of pecan and cherry.  If you don't have one, a Maverick ET732 is a great tool to help.  The remote feature is great because you can do other things around the house yet still keep an eye on your grid and meat temps.  If you decide to go overnight, it has alarms you can set so you'll know if any of your temps fall out of range.  Good Luck, have fun and let us know what you eventually do. (Pics or it didn't happen)

    Damascus, VA.  Friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail.

    LBGE Aug 2012, SBGE Feb 2014

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