[Non-recipe post] [Vegan warning - some meat cutting pictures shown]
I did something a little different with pork shoulder yesterday. Instead of a Southern style pork BBQ I went to the DEEP South. Atlanta? "South-er". Florida? South-er! Try Jamaica.
I smoked a jerk pork picnic shoulder and topped the sandwiches with a sweet, tangy pineapple salsa.
It rocked. Like Cajun seasonings, jerk is often misunderstood as just being spicy hot. There is so much more to the flavors of jerk than just a burning sensation. The allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and thyme give it an earthy flavor. That is the essence of jerk to me. Don't get me wrong, the layers of chile do give it a kick. My lips and tongue tingled for 30 minutes afterwards - more about that later.
Pork Shoulder 101: Whole Shoulder vs Pork Butt vs Picnic
A lot of us BBQ geeks generally refer to "pork shoulder" but when newbies go to the butcher, they might not know what to ask for. I'm giving the NAMP numbers to eliminate confusion when shopping. If your meat department doesn't know what NAMP numbers are, change meat markets.
Whole pork shoulder (NAMP 403) - This the front leg of a hog. It is the "butt" and the "picnic" sections together in one huge cut weighing 12-18 pounds or even more.
Pork Butt (NAMP 406) - this is the upper portion of a whole shoulder weighing on average 6-9 lbs. It is also known as a Boston butt. It is probably the most frequently used for smoking your own BBQ at home. It has a lot of marbling which makes it hard to mess up. Prep work required: None unless you want to trim or score the fat cap.
Picnic Shoulder (NAMP 405) - This is the lower portion of the shoulder also weighing 6 - 9 lbs. It is sold bone in and skin on. It generally costs less per pound than the pork butt but since part of its weight is bone and skin, your net price for net yield is going to be about the same. The picnic is a little leaner than the butt but still produces great bbq when handled right. Prep work required: For BBQ remove skin with a boning knife and trim excess fat. For Lechon style roast, remove skin, trim fat, replace skin and tie down.
I can generally get either butt or picnic at Food City. For me, I usually buy pork butt for BBQ, it's easier to handle and more forgiving. But if the picnic shoulder is on sale or just looks better than the butts, I'll buy a picnic instead.
Smoke and Spice and the Jamisons
The recipe I used this weekend was Boston Bay Jerked Pork from the classic book Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. They have been kind enough to grant me reprint permissions in the past but I didn't even ask this time because you need an incentive to go buy this book. It is full of time tested and Nibble Me This approved rubs, sauces, and recipes. Smoke and Spice has been around for quite a while and that is because it remains spot on relevant for making great tasting BBQ.
I also just ordered their new book Tasting New Mexico. Cheryl and Bill celebrate New Mexico with a tribute to the traditional foods of their home state. In addition to featuring full-flavored versions of 100 beloved local dishes, the book covers the agricultural and ranching heritage of New Mexico, and relates stories about notable cooks, restaurants, food products, and more. If it is half as good as Smoke and Spice, it will be a great book. If you want one, you better hurry, Amazon only had 18 left when I ordered mine.
Jerked Pork with Pineapple Salsa
|9.9 lb untrimmed pork picnic shoulder.|
|To remove the skin work a sharp boning knife under the skin and make a series of shallow slicing cuts.|
|Lift the flap as you keep working toward the leg shank. Then work around the shank. It's all small steady cuts.|
|The Egg was set up with lump and 6 Mojobrick (3 cherry, 3 hickory) cubes. Plate setter in with drip pan for indirect cooking. Bottom vent open a fat 1/4" and the top was closed with petals open.|
|Shoulder rubbed with jerk seasoning and put in the smoke.|
|My secret ingredient for the rub. Instead of ground habanero, I cut the cayenne chile amount in half and added 1/8th tsp of Trinidad Scorpion chile powder (hotter than the bhut jolokia aka Ghost chile).|
|The shank bone with start to protrude as the shoulder smokes and contracts. This is 3 hours in.|
|Another difference for me, I mopped this shoulder using the recipe mop. I haven't mopped since I got my Egg.|
|The color started turning a nice mahogany about 6 hours in.|
|I took it off the smoker 9 and 1/2 hours later at an internal temp of 197f. I drizzled with agave nectar (recipe deviation), foiled and rested it for two hours.|
|Yellow line is internal temp, red cooking temp. The first cooking temp spike was from opening to mop. The second one was when I raised the temp to help push through the stall.|
|Nice bark and deep smoke ring. And flavor? KAPOW.|
|The grilled pineapple salsa was 1 can of pineapple slices grilled and chopped up. Then added 1 diced jalapeno, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/3 cup red onion, 2 Tbsp roasted red pepper, 1 Tbsp lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.|
|Made a quick finishing sauce from 4 parts BBQ sauce, 1 part pineapple juice. Served with sweet potato chips.|
This was one of my favorite smoked pork shoulders in a while, apparently for the rest of the family too. It had a good jerk flavor and it wasn't excessively hot while eating it but my lips tingled for a good while after we finished eating.
[Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post. I paid full price for Smoke and Spice long time ago and for Tasting New Mexico. Heck, I didn't even get free shipping from Amazon.