Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pulled Pork, Smoking Indoors

You don't have to have an outdoor smoker to enjoy the wonderful taste of smoked meats. You can easily do this indoors. All you need is an electric roaster or a large roasting pan and an oven. There were so many times I wanted to smoke ribs or a pork roast for pulled pork, but the weather was bad or I didn't have the time to maintain the heat in an outdoor smoker. Of course you could use an electric smoker, which will maintain the temperature for you. With both the outdoor electric smoker and the charcoal smoker, you will need to have wood chips and soak them as well as watching to make sure they are continuously smoking and add more as needed. Of course there is nothing like the flavor you get from a charcoal smoker, just as there is nothing like the flavor from grilling on a charcoal grill. For those times when you want smoked foods, but just don't have the time to spend or when the weather comes into play, that is when you can turn to the indoor method. I have made some wonderful mouth watering ribs and pork in my electric roaster. I prefer to use an electric roaster over the oven for the simple fact that I don't have to heat up the house and it also leaves the oven free for any other foods you may wish to prepare.

The first thing you need to decide is what type of meat you want to prepare. You can smoke many different types of meat. I will talk about a couple types of pork that I prefer to use when making pulled pork. First is picnic shoulder roast, this is the lower part of the front leg. Second is the butt roast or Boston butt, this cut is actually the upper portion of the shoulder. Not sure why they call it a "butt" roast, since the back half of the pig is the "ham" section. The shoulder cuts are the cuts you should use if you are wanting pulled pork, These are tougher cuts of meat, so they need to be cooked for a much longer period of time to become tender. They also have more flavor. The roast I used today was a picnic shoulder. This is a little less expensive than the butt roast, but just as good. In my local markets, most all of the picnic roasts have not only a bone in them, which usually is not very large, but usually some of the skin still on it as well. There is more prep work needed for the picnic shoulder, but in the end, it is just as good as the more expensive butt roast. There is another plus to getting a picnic roast besides paying a lower price. The skin which can be easily removed with a sharp knife can be fried or baked as a treat for those of you that like "pork rinds". I cook mine up for a great treat for my dog. He loves them. If you do decide to make pork rinds, just be sure you cook them very well done.
There are other meats that can be smoked as I said. Beef, chicken and fish can all be smoked as well as any wild game. I will post some recipes for other meats at a later time.

After you have decided on the cut of meat you want, the next thing to decide upon is your rub. There are many of great rub recipes out there. There are also some really good ones at local grocery stores and markets as well. It is really a personal preference which type of rub you use. You can choose between wet rubs and dry rubs. There are sweet rubs, salty rubs, spicy rubs and so forth. This too is a personal preference. I prefer dry rubs on all of the meats I smoke. I also prefer a salty, spicier and hotter rub. I have made many different rub recipes, but I think the Mc Cormick dry rubs are very good and of course you can always add to any store bought rubs and make them your own. When doing both ribs (which I use baby back) and pork shoulder, I get the Mc Cormick pork rub, then add my additional spices. Now back to my picnic shoulder preparation.

Smoked Picnic Shoulder Roast.

10-12 lb. picnic shoulder roast.
6oz. liquid smoke
12 oz water
3- 3 1/2oz of dry rub

electric roaster or oven roaster pan with lid

Remove skin or rind and excess fat from the pork roast, using a very sharp knife, be careful not to remove the meat. When meat is about room temperature, cover roast with rub, gently rub into meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight. Heat electric roaster or oven to 250 degrees. Remove meat from refrigerator and bring to about room temperature.Add your liquid smoke and water to the bottom of the roaster pan.  Place roast on a rack in the roaster pan, cover and cook for 4 hrs. Check frequently to make sure the liquid does not all evaporate, if it is starting to get low, add more, about 1 C. at a time. This will keep the liquid smoke moving around in the steam. Turn heat up to 350 degrees and cook another 3 hrs. or until meat easily pulls apart. Once the meat is done, remove from rack and place on a large cutting board or platter for about 20 minutes. The bone should pull easily out of roast. Using two forks start shredding meat by gently pulling apart. Serve on rolls or hamburger buns. Add some barbecue sauce if you like. We use a homemade southern barbecue sauce and shredded cabbage. (that is a southern thing)!  Enjoy!


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