Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jerked Pork with Pineapple Salsa

[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 MexicoCheryl 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.


  1. Thank you for the explanation of the different cuts of pork for a non-BBQ person such as myself.

    Love the pineapple salsa. I imagine the sweetness of the pineapple helped offset the jerk flavors.

  2. Delicious! I sure wish I was your neighbor I tell ya. We'd be bestest friends! :)

  3. My mouth is watering just looking at this! Jerk is one of my favorites and I can imagine it was perfect with the pineapple too!

  4. I've had jerk once and it was so hot I couldn't eat it. Really need to give it a try again. This looks absolutely fabulous Chris. And I love that pineapple salsa on top.

  5. I love pork and pineapple together!That pork looks amazing,Chris and thank you for sharing all that info!

  6. I would eat this right now for breakfast! Not for lunch at work - those rabbis frown upon that kinda thing ... sheesh. But then there's dinner and/or a midnight snack. I hear Dr. Seuss in my brain: I would eat this on a house, I would eat this with a mouse ....

  7. Oh my word, that pork looks to die for! I love the nice smoke ring you got on it too! Some how I'm not surprised it was a family favorite!!

  8. I put myself on a cookbook diet a year ago...decided I would not buy any cookbook unless I had a recommendation from a reliable source. I got tired of cookbooks with ONE good recipe in them! Just ordered Smoke and Spice, so thanks! Loved the warning to the Vegans...this post must be like watching a CSI episode for them!

  9. Beautiful, Chris, beautiful. Yours is the second post today that I have read mentioning Smoke and Spice. That book has been on my shefl for far too long. Time to get it down, dust it off and look through it again. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Trinidad Scorpion? You are so brave. Ms. Goofy would never allow it. I would have to sneak that ingredient in.

  11. Oh my GOSH, that first picture had my mouth watering. And that scorpion spice? I must find some. Anything that requires a mere 1/8th tsp to add heat is my man's kind of spice!

  12. Love the blog and all of the effort that you put into the blog. I had a question about the graph that you posted. What did you use to get the graph? Did you take the readings and place them into say excel or is it a thermometer that takes the readings?

  13. @ Pots and Pins - You won't be disappointed. LMAO at your CSI comment

    @Chilebrown - You're supposed to ask first? ;)

    @Cooking with the Carters - It is an excel spreadsheet. I have a remote probe thermometer and log the data manually. I keep all the details on the cook so I can learn from it. I'll try to send it to you.

  14. Drooling. Seriously, I am DROOLING!! Loving the jerked pork and pineapple combo. YUM.

  15. Wow! Chris, this is a master piece. You sure had become quite a master artist of the Grill. Just thinking about the sweet pinapple juices and the smoky pork flavor makes my mouth water. I had been craving a charcoal grilled burger with a slice of pineapple (Hawaiian style). Maybe this weekend.

    Living in an apartment makes grilling difficult. But this father's day, we gave my husband a little Lodge Hibachi to
    cook some steaks once in awhile.

    Keep up the grilling!


  16. Wow, that's gorgeous. I want to reach in and snag that plate right now. And I love the shot of your "secret ingredient vial". ha ha ha. Just a pinch now, dearie...

  17. If it doesn't make your tongue and lips tingle it's not worth eating, in my opinion!

  18. excellent post! i had no idea there were different "styles" of pork butt. i think we've gotten all three at one point not knowing that they were different. this looks DELICIOUS!

  19. Looks really yummy!! I will have to try it.

  20. I think I'm going to have go test the meat counter at my grocery store hehehehe.

  21. Nice tutorial on the hog leg and I love the jerked butt idea, especially with the pineapple salsa.

  22. You are the grilling and smoking KING! I am always so nervous to cook with those different kinds of pork... I usually stick to the easy tenderloin and chops. Whoa, 9 hours?! It looks like it was soooo worth it though!

  23. Another must add to my make soon list recipe. Good job BBQ KING!