Smoked pork shoulder: skin on or off? | the benefits and how-to guide

When it comes to smoking pork shoulder, one of the main debates among barbecue enthusiasts is whether to leave the skin on or remove it. Both options have their advantages and can result in delicious and tender meat. In this article, we will explore the benefits of smoking pork shoulder with the skin on and provide a step-by-step guide to achieving the perfect smoked pork shoulder.

Table of Contents

The Benefits of Smoking Pork Shoulder with Skin On

Leaving the skin on the pork shoulder has several advantages. First and foremost, the skin acts as a protective barrier, keeping the meat moist and preventing it from drying out during the smoking process. The layer of fat underneath the skin also adds flavor and richness to the meat, resulting in a more succulent and flavorful final product.

Additionally, smoking pork shoulder with the skin on allows for easier preparation and presentation. The skin can be scored before smoking, allowing the rendered fat to baste the meat as it cooks. This scoring also makes it easier to slice the pork shoulder after smoking, as the skin will have hardened and can be easily removed.

Preparing a Skin-On Pork Shoulder for Smoking

To prepare a skin-on pork shoulder for smoking, start by scoring the skin in a crosshatch pattern. Be sure to score deeply through the fat without cutting into the underlying meat. This scoring allows the spice rub to penetrate the meat and enhances the overall flavor.

Next, apply a spice rub to the pork shoulder, making sure to get it into the crevices and nooks of the scoring. Allow the pork shoulder to chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Slow Roasted Skin-On Pork Shoulder Recipe

  • ¼ cup black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 8–10 pound skin-on, bone-in pork shoulder
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  1. In a spice grinder or blender, finely grind together the peppercorns, juniper berries, and coriander seeds. Mix with the sugar and salt.
  2. Score the skin of the pork shoulder in a crosshatch pattern.
  3. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork shoulder, making sure to get it into the scoring.
  4. Cover the pork shoulder with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
  5. Preheat your oven to 225°F (107°C).
  6. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place rosemary and garlic in the center.
  7. Set a rack on top of the rosemary and garlic.
  8. Place the pork shoulder on the rack and pour the wine into the pan.
  9. Insert the probe from a ChefAlarm thermometer into the deepest part of the pork shoulder and set the high-temp alarm for 165°F (71°C).
  10. Place the pork shoulder in the oven and cook until it reaches 165°F (71°C).
  11. Once the pork shoulder reaches the desired temperature, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Whether you choose to smoke your pork shoulder with the skin on or off, the most important thing is to ensure it is cooked to perfection. Smoking a skin-on pork shoulder can result in a tender and flavorful meat with a delicious layer of crispy skin. Be sure to use a ChefAlarm thermometer to monitor the internal temperature and achieve the desired level of doneness. Enjoy your smoked pork shoulder as the centerpiece of a festive meal or as a show-stopping dish at your next barbecue gathering.

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