Labor Day BBQ Fest: Smoked Pork Shoulder

This past Labor Day Weekend, we finally got around to doing something we’ve been talking about doing all summer – making some BBQ in the smoker. You might remember reading about RibFest 2013 a few months ago. Yes, 2013. It’s been a while. Too long.


This time around, we decided to smoke a 4.5 pound bone-in pork shoulder. I say we, but I actually didn’t have anything to do with preparing the meat, other than acting as the sous chef when it came to mixing up the dry rub (based on this recipe). The huz gets all the credit for making the pork.


I was a huge fan of this rub we prepared (appropriately named Magic Dust), and would definitely use it again.


While the huz played around with the smoker outside, I prepped the sides and sauces.


  • Tropical Slaw with Sweet & Sour Dressing – made with red cabbage, mango, pineapple, scallions, cilantro (omitted from huz’s half because he thinks cilantro is “the work of the devil”), and a simple dressing made from cider vinegar, sugar, canola oil, and seasoning.


I made not one, but TWO homemade BBQ sauces to accompany our pork! First up, I needed to use utilize some of these homegrown tomatoes shared by my parents, and tried out this BBQ sauce recipe from Ball Corporation which uses fresh tomatoes.

I actually made only 1/6th of the original recipe (which definitely required some MATH because what is 1/6th of 1/3 cup lemon juice!??) because I didn’t want three 16 ounce jars of BBQ sauce! I also skipped the whole canning procedure, and just made enough sauce for a couple meals (about 8 ounce). This time-consuming recipe was definitely a labor of love, but it was fun to make (demonstrated below)!

01 pulled pork (2)

While the sauce was simmering, it smelled HORRENDOUS, you guys. Like, literally, like vomit. But, after simmering, I placed it in a jar in the fridge for several hours. At dinner time we pulled it out, and it was delicious! Win! The flavors and acidity totally mellowed out. I would say it was somewhat similar to the store bought Open Pit BBQ sauce.


Our second sauce was a simple homemade vinegar BBQ sauce based on this recipe. It was pretty good.

And the third, per the huz’s request, was a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s. Of course!


After four hours, I was summoned outside to take a peek at the pork. Dang, son!


At this point, we brought the pork indoors, and finished it low and slow – about 3.5-4 additional hours at 250 F in the oven, wrapped in foil.

Then it looked like this!


Once you cut into the pork, there was a nice 1/4” smoke ring – that pink layer beneath the dry rub that forms in slow cooked BBQ meat.

Mmm, smoky and delicious!


A perfect Labor Day feast! I love making big, themed feasts at home for special occasions. And yes, a three day weekend is definitely considered special occasion. I really need more of them in my life.

photo 2

Another successful BBQ session!


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