Slow-smoked pork shoulder is what real barbecue is all about in Memphis — long shreds of meat served with a little barbecue sauce on the side as a main course or a great sandwich. It’s a good choice for the new barbecue cook to try, too, because it’s a little more forgiving than some of the other cuts if you don’t get it just right. Just make sure to start early and cook it until it’s done. It may seem like a long time, but the results are well worth it.
Click here to see the Barbecue Rub recipe.
Do not trim the fat cap off of the pork butt! You may trim any extra pieces that are hanging loose, but most of the trimming will be done after the cooking. Season the meat liberally with the rub. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Prepare your cooker to cook indirectly at 235 degrees using a combination of two-thirds cherry and one-third hickory wood for smoke flavor. Put the butt in the cooker, fat-side up, and cook until the internal temperature is 180 degrees. This should take 8-10 hours, depending on your cooker.
Lay out a big double-thick sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and put the pork butt in the middle. As you begin to close up the package, pour the apple juice over the top of the butt and then seal the package, taking care not to puncture it. Put the package back in the cooker and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. This should take about another 2 hours.
Transfer the package from the cooker to a sheet pan. Open the top of the foil to let the steam out and let it rest for 30 minutes. Using heavy insulated gloves or a pair of tongs and a fork, transfer the meat to a big pan. It will be very tender and hard to handle. Discard the juices as they will be quite fatty. Pull the meat apart with your hands, discarding the fat and bones. Keep in big chunks or continue pulling into shreds if you prefer. Serve immediately with barbecue sauce on the side.