Pulled Pork Carnitas

1 pork shoulder (Boston Butt)Nice carnitas spread...
[I prefer bone in and the size is really about how many people you need to feed and how long a cook you are willing to undergo. Remember it is about 2 hours per pound plus 1-2 hours off FTC* rest if you have the time . I’ve used this recipe for shoulders from 4-8+ pounds. When pork shoulders go on sale at my butcher I generally will buy one full shoulder and a second that I have cut in half resulting in two around 4 pounds. If asked nicely they will vacuum seal them for me so they can go straight into the freezer if necessary.]

Marinade & Injection
3 cups orange juice (of course fresh squeezed is best but I end up using good quality pre-made 100% orange juice)
2 cups lime juice (I have used both fresh squeezed and bottled)
8 cloves garlic

Spice Rub:
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

For The Mop and Sauce:
1 12 oz bottle of dark beer (the latest cook I used a craft Maple Syrup Porter which worked awesome)
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of the Rub

Depending on the size of your shoulder and the length of cook you are either going to start the cook super early in the morning or the night before. Below is assuming you have a 4-5 pound shoulder and are going for about 7-10 hours. Therefore you can start super early… [My last cook was a 4.25 pound, bone-in half shoulder which took exactly 2 hours per pound at 8.5 hours.]

The day before the cook…
Sometime during the day before, inject the marinade throughout the shoulder. Remember to drape a paper towel over when injecting so you don’t spray marinade all over the place. After injecting pierce the shoulder all over to let the marinade work its way in. I use a metal kabob skewer or you can use the needle from your meat injector. For marinating Depending on the size of your shoulder you can use a large soup pot or if it’s a half shoulder a large Ziploc bag will work. Even if the shoulder is fully submerged but especially if it isn’t, turn it in the pot/bag leaving it in the fridge before heading to bed for the night.

The morning of the cook:
Prep the smoker: Set up the smoker/grill for indirect heat at 230°-240°. Optional: If you like using smoke then I would suggest pecan and/or apple chunks soaked and drained. For most of my cooks I don’t use additional smoke.

Discard marinade and rinse the roast off and pat dry with paper towels.

Make the rub by mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside 2 tablespoons for the sauce. Pat the rub all over the roast and let sit while your smoker temp stabilizes. Pro-Tip: Make the rub in a large batch and keep the extra in a large, used spice container. That way you can just throw it in the freezer and when you need it you can shake it up.

Make the mop sauce – mix all ingredients together and set aside about ½ -1 cup (depending on size of shoulder) for later when the meat is done to use as a finishing sauce.

The Cook:water bowl for moisture
The cook will last about 1.5-2 hours per pound depending on how much the temperature varies and if it is bone-in or not. (at 230° I have found it reliably takes a solid 2 hours per pound) This is where you really need a remote thermometer probe. I also like to put a small stainless bowl of water in the cooker for the duration of the cook.You want the shoulder to get to 195°. If you have never made pulled pork before that number might scare you. You will also be tempted to crank the heat when you hit the “stall” around 160°. It will sit there at around 160° for what seems like forever but be patient. Don’t succumb to the temptation. Also, don’t keep opening the lid to check on it… “If you are looking, you’re not cooking”

basting on the mop sauceDuring the cook and after about an hour and half, liberally mop the roast with the mop sauce about every 45 minutes to an hour. When the internal temperature reaches 195° you will want to pull that sucker off for some FTC time. (note: make sure that your temperature probe is in solid meat and not one of the fat pockets. This is one reason I like using two thermometer probes.)

*FTC time: FTC stands for Foil, Towel, Cooler. Wrap the shoulder in foil, wrap in a towel and throw in an empty cooler for 45 minutes to an hour.

Final Prep:pork ready for pulling

Shred that pork with a couple of forks. If the pork didn’t quite get up to that 195° and isn’t pulling easily then grab a big knife and make yourself some chopped pork carnitas…

Pour the set aside mop sauce over the shredded pork. You don’t need to use it all, pour it on in parts making sure you don’t drown it.

Simple flour or corn tortillas, sour cream and guacamole and you are done. Enjoy. Do this right and make some Greatest Guacamole for this.pulled pork - yum, yum, yum

Personal preference note: I really like to use the smaller corn tortillas. I heat up a small cast iron pan with some oil in it and heat the corn tortillas. Awesome.

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