Put Your Shoulder into It

All over the world people are doing crazy things with meat and fire. I mentioned in my April 21 column that barbecue, as most of us know it, is more than what it seems.

We Yukoners love bbq, but seem to trade in complexity for simplicity, speed and convenience.

There’s nothing wrong with a simple grill night at home. Just saying, you should challenge yourself to something more complicated every once in a while to shake things up. Put your beer can chicken on hold – please!

The bbq you own greatly affects what you can achieve. The bbq I use for low and slow southern bbq is called the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, also known as “the bullet”.

To get an idea of what is possible with one of these cookers, go to www.virtualweberbullet.com.

I also use a 55-gallon drum that I converted into a vertical smoker, aka the “ugly drum smoker” as they’re commonly called.

But don’t be discouraged, if you have a gas grill with jets on the left and right hand sides, with separate controls, you can still produce a nice piece of bbq with some tending and skills.

As for wood, I tend to use what is around me. It limits me somewhat, but I save money by not buying chips or wood for smoking.

Good local wood for smoking includes birch, alder and willow (there are roughly 43 different varieties of willow in the Yukon, giving you lots of flavour options). Play around with the wood you use as well as the spice rub you use.

BBQ Pork Shoulder/Butt, or “Pulled Pork”

The recipe that follows will take a long time to cook, so plan accordingly. Don’t be tempted to rush anything along or it will be ruined.

I will give instructions for using a vertical smoker and a gas grill. If you’re using a Bradley smoker, follow the “gas grill” procedure.


1 6-10 lb bone-in pork shoulder (butt)

1/2 to 3/4 cup “Fatkid’s Blue Ribbon Rub”

Ballpark yellow mustard

1/2 bag of Royal Oak/Kingsford briquettes

3 nice chunks of wood, or wood chips if using gas grill

Digital instant read thermometer (to monitor internal temp on meat without opening the bbq)

FATKID’S BLUE RIBBON RUB (This amount leaves you with some left to keep for other uses.)

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup cane sugar (sub white sugar)

1/2 cup Hungarian or other quality paprika

1/3 cup garlic salt

1/3 cup kosher salt

3 tbsp ancho chili powder (sub chili powder or your choice)

1 tbsp Mexican oregano (sub regular oregano)

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp black pepper


Trim pork shoulder of excess fat. How? Basically I feel the fat. If it’s hard, I remove it; if it’s soft, it stays.

Cover the shoulder with a bit of mustard, then sprinkle the Fatkid’s Blue Ribbon Rub all over. You can be pretty generous with the rub. You want the meat to be really covered.

If you have the time, leave the pork with the rub on overnight.

Plan on roughly 1.5 hours a pound for the cook. So an 8 lb pork shoulder will take about 12 hours to cook at 230-250F. Basically, don’t put it in at 9 am thinking you’re eating at 6 pm with friends. Believe me, I’ve been a victim of poor planning, it sucks!

If using a gas grill:

Light up one side, bring the bbq temp to 250F.

Prepare a smoking box by wrapping wood chips in aluminum foil, and poke a few holes in the top.

If using a vertical wood smoker:

Alternate layers of chunks of wood and charcoal, until the fire box is almost completely full. Light 15-20 briquettes on the side.

Do not use lighter fluid for any of the steps! The taste will be terrible if you do.

When your briquettes are lit, scatter them evenly over the rest of the charcoal in the fire box.

Fill your water pan with water and assemble the bbq. Bring up to 230-250F.

When temperature has been achieved, set all three air vents to 50 percent and the top one at 100 percent.

Your bbq should remain at a constant temperature with this setting. If temperature drops, open up one of the lower 3 air vents a little more.

Place the pork shoulder in your bbq fat side up. Insert the food probe into the centre of the shoulder and run the wire out one of the vent holes to the controller. Close the lid and let it work its magic.

With either grill setup, keep the bbq temp at 230-250F at all times. This will take some practice to get the hang of.

Using a gas grill:

You will need to replace the wood foil pack probably five or six times throughout the cooking process. (Bradley smokers do this automatically.)

Cook to an internal temperature of 160F. Remove the shoulder, wrap it up in a double layer of foil, return it to the grill and cook till you hit an internal temperature of 196-200F.

After the meat is foiled you no longer need the wood-chipped foil packs or the Bradley’s smoking pucks.

Using a vertical smoker:

As your air vents are controlled, you will not need to do anything but wait.

Cook until you reach an internal temperature of 196F-200F. Remove the shoulder from the smoker and double-wrap it in foil.

Let the meat rest, wrapped in foil, for at least an hour. Keep it in a cooler to keep it warm, up to 3 hours.

Unwrap the foil and pull the meat apart. The bone should come out completely clean.

Serve with your favourite bbq sauce, coleslaw, baked beans and cornbread.

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