Apple-Smoked Barbecued Pulled Pork Shoulder

My birthday present from The Wife this year was a Curing and Smoking course at Seasoned Cookery School in Derbyshire. The rather wonderfully-named Turan T Turan took us through the processes of curing, brining, air-drying, hot-smoking and cold-smoking, and I left with various paraphernalia for food-smoking at home. Although I’ve done less with it than I hoped, I’m determined to nail smoked salmon by Christmas, and I have a couple of stupid ideas I’d like to try out. I also managed a passable slow-smoked pork shoulder on my barbecue.


  • 5kg boned & rolled pork shoulder
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • Sea salt (flakes, preferably)


  • A largish barbecue with a lid
  • Apple wood chips
  • a deep foil tray, or a deep baking tray you don’t mind getting all gross, filled with water
  • slow-burning charcoal briquettes

The pork needs preparing at least 24 hours ahead of cooking. Unroll it, and generously cover in the salt and brown sugar. Re-roll, cover, and put in the fridge, basting at regular intervals.

Lay your coals on one side of the barbecue - you need to leave enough space without coals for the water tray. Light them and, while they’re getting up to temperature, soak a handful of the wood chips in a bowl of water. You don’t need a lot of chips to get a reasonable amount of smoke, and it’s easy to over-smoke, so be restrained.

Once the coals are up to temperature, put the water tray in the space beside them and put the pork on the grill above them. Then throw the wood chips onto the coals and shut the lid for 5 hours.

Before the lid went downBefore the lid went down

I made a simple dipping / mopping sauce by reducing 250ml of white wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and some chopped chiles by about two-thirds so it was sticky but not syrupy.

I took a few notes for improvement next time:

  • The charcoal I was using was a bit rubbish, and needed topping up several times, which I think raised the temperature too high. Any recommendations for long-, slow-burning charcoal gratefully received
  • I put the pork on the grill skin-side-down, in theory to protect the meat, but in retrospect I might have been better off with the skin and fat on top so the pork self-basted
  • I don’t have a very efficient process for the actual pulling of the pork. I used two standard forks, and it took quite a while to do the whole shoulder. Again, if anyone has a better method I’d be keen to hear it.

NB: this week’s post was delayed by lack of Internet, which in turn led to unforeseen DropBox shenanigans.