Part of the criticism levied against Certified Barbecue Judges who don't cook competitively (as I do) that we don't know what it is like to cook all night, dealing with the elements, and not be sure how things will turn out. To them I say: "ppppplllllbbbtttt." (that is supposed to be a raspberry noise btw)
Back in mid-November, we had a group of friends over to watch the Patriots game and for the food, I prepared two 7.5 lb pork shoulders. The process took nearly 24 hours, starting with brining the pork with a basic light brine mixed with Goya Chipotle Mojo that I injected into the meat and let soak for a few hours. Then I slathered the meat with a mustard sauce slather and covered it with a nice, slightly spicy and very flavorful rub. That marinated for a few hours, and then about an hour before putting it on the smoker, I took it out of the fridge and let the temp come up a little bit. The pork went on fairly late at night, and through the night either myself or my girlfriend got up every hour and a half to put more charcoal on the fire, spray the meat with apple juice/cider vinegar/Worcestershire sauce mix, and make sure things were going according to plan.
For the first time, I used sand in the the drip pans of my horizontal smoker, which helped with maintaining the temperature during the cold night. For fuel, I used a combination of Royal Oak chunk charcoal and a mix of large apple, mesquite and hickory wood chunks.
After about 8 hours on the fire, I wrapped it in foil and kept the temp a little lower. After a total over 12 hours of cooking, the meat came off and I pulled it apart, which required no effort at all. The bone came right out, all the fat was completely rendered out, leaving the meat tender and juicy with no large chunks of fat, and a great flavorful crust on the outside. I served it with some Dreamland BBQ sauce and a mustard sauce I made myself.
The pork got rave reviews at the party, but real compliments came the next day at my office, when I brought the leftovers in for everyone to pick at. It took about an hour for a foil pan's worth of meat to disappear and I received multiple emails and personal comments from people. The best one was from a woman who lived in Texas for many years and said it was the best BBQ she had since leaving Texas.
This was the third time doing a pork shoulder and the third time it has come out well, making me feel secure in my abilities to cook it well. While spending the time doing the shoulder, I decided to try my hand at cooking a small brisket. Unfortunately, I massively overcooked it, leaving it virtually inedible except for the absolute thickest center part. However, that part that was edible was quite tasty, tender and surprisingly moist - the rest was just.... well... hard. LOL