Texas Farmers Market Leaderboard January 2021

Fred Thompson's Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder


by Fred Thompson.

Serves 12 to 15

Super easy

Fred Thompson's Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 1 tablespoon(s) paprika
  • 1 tablespoon(s) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon(s) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon(s) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon(s) freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon(s) dry mustard
  • 6 lbs bone-in pork butt or picnic shoulder
  • 1 cup(s) strained Cuban mojo marinade (Goya brand)
  • 7 cup(s) hickory or apple wood chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • Lexington-Style Sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce

Fred Thompson's Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, sugar, salt, black pepper, white pepper, granulated garlic and mustard. In another small bowl, reserve 1 tablespoon of this spice-rub mixture; set it aside. Rub the remaining mixture evenly over the pork. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
    At least 90 minutes before you plan to put the pork on the grill, remove it from the refrigerator. Take an injection syringe and pull the mojo marinade up into the tube. Plunge the injector into the pork, and then slowly push in the mojo as you move the needle back toward you and out of the meat. (You want to do it this way so that you don’t have huge puddles and so that the mojo is more evenly distributed.) Repeat this several more times at random spots in the meat until all the mojo has been used.
  2. Drain the wood chips. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high for 10 to 12 minutes with the lid closed.
  3. Oil the grill racks. If your grill is equipped with a smoke box, fill it with chips and place the box at one end of the grill. (You will use more of the chips later.) If you do not have a smoke box, divide the wood chips evenly among 6 perforated foil packets and place 1 packet at the end of the grill.
  4. Place a disposable 9x13-inch aluminum pan crosswise on the grill rack at the end opposite the smoke box (or foil packet), and fill the pan halfway with water. Turn off the center or back burner, and adjust your heat to medium-high. Close the lid.
  5. When the wood chips have started to smoke, cut off the all but one burner and turn it to low. (Make sure the center burner is turned off.) Position the pork in the center of the grill, away from the direct heat of the burner. Cover the grill, and go drink a beer.
  6. Typically, smoking chips or even chunks will last 15 to 20 minutes. The pork will gather most of its smoke flavor in the first 2 hours of cooking. Every 20 minutes, working as quickly as you can to keep the smoke from escaping, replace your smoke packet or the chips in the smoker box and add water to the aluminum pan, if necessary. When you’ve used all the chips, try not to open the grill again until the barbecue is close to being done, which will take 4 to 5 hours longer. The best way to tell that the barbecue is done is to take a pair of tongs and grab the flat bone that runs through the center of the meat. If it moves easily or you can pull it out, then the pork is done. Sometimes in windy conditions or when it’s cold, it can take up to 7 hours for a shoulder to magically become barbecue. The internal temperature should be 180° to 190°.
  7. When you’ve determined that the barbecue is ready, transfer it to a large roasting pan and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Then with forks or tongs, begin to pull the meat so that it comes off in stringy chunks. Separate out the skin and as much fat as you desire. Any of the outside brown, which is crispy, should be set aside and finely chopped, then stirred back into the meat. You can leave the barbecue pulled as it comes off the shoulder, or you can chop it a little finer, if you desire. At this point I like to sprinkle the pulled pork with the reserved tablespoon of spice rub that I used for the outside, tossing the barbecue to blend.
  8. Some people like to sauce their barbecue at this point, and I tend to do that with about ½ cup of the barbecue sauce that I intend to serve. Again, toss to combine. Serve hot with coleslaw and additional barbecue sauce on the side.

Recipe notes

Special equipment: meat-injection syringe

Lexington-Style Sauce recipe click here. 

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