Live Fire Cooking: Pork Shoulder

This latest adventure in live fire cooking came about rather innocently. I needed a way to get a bigger fire out of this (double-sided) fireplace.

Bigger Fire

The grate was too low to keep larger stacks of logs from rolling out so I set upon building a cage to hold the logs in (see above). It’s made from steel and bolts I picked up at a local hardware store and measures 36″ wide x 18″ deep x 18″ tall.

For a couple of weeks, Most glorious spousal unit and I enjoyed some nice big blazes and as I spaced out watching said fires, I kept getting the feeling that I needed more out of it.

And so, thus began the development of my Fireplace Cooking System (FCS™). Everything is a system these days.

As an experiment, I set upon smoking a skin-on bone-in pork shoulder. But I needed something to set it upon. Hmmm.

Since I’ve replaced all the cheezy grates that come with Weber™ and BGE™ grills with some real steel, I have a few unused grates laying around. Sadly, they were too small to sit atop the cage in a stable manner.

Looking around at my spare parts bin, I noticed some leftover 4″x4″ small livestock containment fencing (welded steel) that I had picked up and made into a wine rack. Grabbing the bolt cutters, I quickly snipped out a 20″ x 32″ grid to set on the cage.

The Fireplace

Yay! It worked like a charm and I commenced to cooking. Here’s a close up of that hunk of beast you might have noticed in the picture above.

Left Shoulder

This is the left front shoulder of some poor beasty that gave his life for this experiment. I give thanks.

That shoulder was placed in a salt brine (skin side up) over a week ago. Just salt and water. I was going for a smoked ham-like thing.

I applied a mixture of equal parts granulated garlic, granulated onion, and fresh ground black pepper to the meat. No reason to be shy with the seasonings.

Season Your Meat!

I put that bugger skin-side down on the grate and commenced to waiting.

Ham and Grill

Whilst waiting, I checked temps in and around the meat. With a low of 165°F and a high of around 225°F, temps were right where I wanted them.

About eight hours later, with an internal temp of 155°F, I pulled it.

Topside, we looked like this:

Topside of Porky

Skin side, we looked like this:

Skinside of Porky

That missing skin is where I picked at it and ate it.

Inside of Porky

Looks pretty hammy to me. Mission Accomplished!

Please keep in mind that this is a cooked ham, not to be confused with a fully-cured raw ham. It takes months of effort for the latter and I just don’t have that kind of patience.

From roast to plate, along with some sous vide potatoes (185°F for 1.5 hours) that I cubed and fried in duck fat, it made a wonderfully simple New Year’s Eve dinner.

Dinner Is Served

Clearly, while this experiment was a success, more work is coming on the FCS. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

Happy 2017!

This entry was posted in Equipment, Meat, Techniques and tagged , , , , by johngl. Bookmark the permalink.

About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits. Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.

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