Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pork Shoulder Ham

This was a bone-in piece. Pretty much a shoulder joint. I have never prepared one of these, so it was an adventure. Just the ticket for this blog!

I rubbed it with oil and my salt and pepper mix. I set it in the very center of the cooking chamber, and fired up the coals. I am using Kingsford Mesquite Briquettes at the present. They fired up nicely and I got a good even burn right from the start. I poured out the coals from the lighting chimney, and spread them about. A few handfuls of charcoal on top, and we were off.

My temperature setting was for 160 degrees. I planned on a four hour run. Every half hour or so I added a few handfuls of charcoal and some soaked hickory chips. At two hours we were up to 140 degrees internal temperature, and the chamber was at about 250 degrees. I turned the meat, tended the fire, and anticipated another hour or so before achieving target temperature.

We reached target temperature at three hours. I had to damp down the air inlets quite a bit to keep the temperature in the cooking chamber in the zone. I decided to close it way down, letting the fire smolder with a lot of hickory chips. I closed the chimney to about 1/4 open. I usually run full open on the chimney, but I was going for optimal smoke for the next half hour.

At three and a half hours I deemed things done. I brought out the ham, and had a look. It had the skin on, and the skin was almost black. The meat exposed by the butcher's cut looked a deep red. The skin had done some shrinking, making the finished piece appear smaller than the original cut of meat.

This cut was hard carving. I cut close to the bone, but was unfamiliar with the bone structure. It took some time to separate the meat from the bone. There was a lot of fat, especially under the skin. The skin was a bit tough, as would be expected. Some of the connective tissue within the meat was still a bit tough in places.

I would like to have smoked this piece of meat for another half hour or more. However, some of the thinner bits were beginning to dry. As it was, the meat itself was juicy and tender. The fat had a deep smoke flavor. The bits of connective tissue that remained tough were few. Even discounting the bone, skin and fat, this was not a bad $4 cut of meat.

Not my best barbecue experience, but a good experience. I will consider this cut again if it looks meaty enough and the price is right. The bone would make good stock for soup, if one were so inclined. I think I would make preparations for that should I barbecue this cut again.

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