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Pulled pork - oven THEN smoker?

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Hi guys,

I know there are a million pork shoulder/pulled pork threads, but I couldn't find one on cooking it in the oven first for a bit, then smoked for a long time after that.

It's because I really want to make sure I cook it to 195-200 internal at a good slow pace and don't want to have to get up at 4 AM if I don't have to. I'll have a 7 lb boneless shoulder and an 8 lb bone-in shoulder.

If I time my oven to cook @ 225 for a couple of hours while I'm still asleep, I can get my butt out of bed and smoke it for the rest. Would I still get good smoke flavour by doing it this way?

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  1. I'm no BBQ expert, but it's my understanding you need to smoke first.....then you could transfer to your kitchen oven......meat can only absorb so much smoke and it's done in the first 2-4 hours , if not mistaken.

    1. Better to do it the other way - smoke it first for a few hours, then finish in the oven wrapped in foil. The issue is that the surface of the pork absorbs the most smoke flavor when it's raw, since the moisture traps more of the smoke and the surface hasn't yet crusted over. So, to get the best bark, you want those first few hours to have lots of smoke. Once the internal temp is around 140 (5 hours or so, depending on the size), you're probably not going to get much more smoke flavor so at that point it's fine to wrap it in foil and put it in the oven for the rest of the time. You might try taking the foil off for the last half hour, to crisp the bark back up (since it'll get a little soggy in the foil). I do this all the time and it comes out great. Good luck.

      1. Another vote for smoke first - oven second. I've even been known to smoke the day before, cool and keep it in the fridge overnight, then finish the slow cooking the next day. Good luck!

        1. My experience is that the smoke penetrating the meat takes place during the first two or three hours of cooking. If you cook in the oven first you would seal the outside somewhat and wouldn't get as much of a smoke taste. I have not tried this method so I could be wrong but I doubt it.

          I can usually start at 8 in the morning on the smoker and the butts are ready by 4 or 5pm. If they are not looking done by then I wrap in foil and then finish in the oven. This reduces the bark some though.

          I don't get up at four unless I am doing brisket.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cajundave

            How big were your pork shoulders though? I just worry 10 hours won't be enough for 7-8 pound shoulders but maybe I'm just paranoid. :)

            1. re: miketoronto

              Sorry I didn't answer sooner. Yes the butts I buy are 5-6 lbs. So yours are going to take 1-1.5 hours more.

              You can increase to 235 without changing the final outcome that much.

              I have to admit that sometimes for no apparent reason it can take an hour or two longer than the butt I cooked a month ago. Thats why I wrap in foil and finish in the oven, I lose my patience.

          2. Smoke first, then oven if you must. If you start with the oven then switch to the smoker, you probably won't get any smoke flavor at all. The effects of smoke on meats happens up to the point that the meat hits about 140-145F, at least as far as generating a smoke ring is concerned. (I think that comes from Harold McGee, but I could be wrong.) Also, unless you butterfly the boneless shoulder, expect that the bone-in shoulder to cook faster. That bone acts as a heat sink, and actually helps cook the center of the shoulder faster than if the bone had been removed. The bone is also a great indicator of doneness: grab the bone with a pair of tongs. If you can pull it out of the meat cleanly, it's done.

            1. Anyone have experience with splitting a shoulder into two 3-4 pounders and smoking? That may be sacrilege to some (may be a bit less moist), but at least there would be more bark and cook much faster?

              1. p.s. thanks everyone for their advice on oven then smoker, I kept reading that it's often the first few hours that matter most for smoking (Cooks Illustrated believes this as well) but wanted to see if anyone had experience with it.

                1. You can always cut them in 1/2 or quarters so they are done faster on the smoker. Although personally the easiest way is to use the big green egg where you don't have to add any charcoal in the middle of low and slow cooks.

                  1. Go to WWW.TVWBB.com for information on how to smoke them faster at a higher temperature. This method might take care of your problem.

                    1. You are feeding 20+- people? You have responsibilities. Buck up and set the alarm for five o'clock

                      and get smokin'. What time do you plan to serve?