Competition Barbecue Pork Shoulder Recipe

A triumphant search to balance the juiciest pork shoulder with a beautiful blackened bark, for a butt worth pitting against the big boys. Joshua Bousel

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 10 hrs
Serves: 12 to 16 servings

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For the Braise:

  • 3/4 cup apple juice

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup your favorite barbecue sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup

  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno jelly

For the Injection:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 Boston pork butt (about 8 pounds)

  • 3/4 cup barbecue rub

  • 2-3 fist-size chunks of medium smoking wood, like oak or hickory


  1. To make the braise: In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, agave, and jalapeño jelly. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

  2. To make the injection: In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Using an injection syringe, inject the pork at 1-inch intervals, using the entire injection solution. Pat pork dry with paper towels.

  3. Evenly coat pork shoulder with barbecue rub all over.

  4. Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F, adding chunks of smoking wood when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place pork butts in smoker or grill and smoke until the outside has turned a deep mahogany color, 5 to 7 hours. Place pork butt on a piece of extra-large heavy duty aluminum foil with sides folded upwards. Pour 1 cup of the braise over pork butt. Reserve remaining braise. Seal foil around pork, wrapping with additional pieces as needed, and place back in the smoker. Continue to cook until internal temperature registers 198°F on an instant read thermometer.

  5. Remove pork from smoker, open foil, and let vent for 15 to 30 minutes. Pull pork into chunks and place in a medium pan, reserving braise and discarding bone. Pour reserved braise over pulled pork and mix together to full distribute braise. Add additional braise to taste. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Injection syringe, Smoker or grill

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
685 Calories
43g Fat
16g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 685
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 56%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 199mg 66%
Sodium 795mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 11mg 54%
Calcium 82mg 6%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 867mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)