Barbecue: Smoked Pork Shoulder – Barbacoa: Bondiola Ahumada

Note: The following article focuses mainly on cuisine outside of Argentina

Smoked Pork Shoulder
(No, that isn’t a burned and charred mess. That is known as the bark or crust which is basically caramelized sugars from the meat and rub(seasoning.) Although it looks burnt, the bark is actually kind of sticky and chewy with no resemblance to charred meat that has been cooked quickly over a hot fire)

I have started to spread the gospel of good barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, or Bar-B-Que to my local friends and family. A few refinements are still needed on my part in regards to cooking temps and time–a thermometer for the grill would help–but getting there. Smoking isn’t something new in Argentina, by the way. You can find a variety of delicious smoked treats around the country, particularly in parts of Patagonia. However, it isn’t something that is widely done. 99.97% (not a factual statistic) of the people prefer a typical asado like what most often is posted about here.

But smoking, in general, is not what I’m talking about in this case. I’m talking about the ‘Q. Pulled pork, chopped pork, brisket, ribs, and chicken that are sometimes “finished” with a tangy vinegar red pepper sauce, spicy mustard-based mops, or thick sweet tomato-based concoctions. Let me tell you that my soon-to-be converts are quite impressed.

Unfortunately they still have not witnessed the full power of good “barbecue”. Yes, lacking a proper thermometer to detect the temperature inside the grill is putting a damper on things. Don’t get me wrong, the results have been fantastic but I’m having a hard time getting the pork to a level where I can properly pull it (great pic of good pulled pork).

This past weekend I cooked a 3 lb. chunk of pork shoulder (bondiola) for a little over 6 hours. I could have probably left it in longer but without knowing how much heat the fire was putting off, I became a bit wary after looking at the crust (aka: bark) forming on the meat. My meat thermometer showed an internal temp of 150ºF at 5 hours but when the 6th came around and that temp didn’t budge, I decided to finish Mr. Pig in the oven. Into a medium-low oven it went for about 40 minutes wrapped in aluminum foil until the internal temp reached 180ºF. Then I let the little piggy rest for 30 minutes. My kitchen was heavily, heavily, filled with the smell of bacon and smoked ham. The meat was awesome! Juicy, and there was hardly any effort needed to carve and chop. Smokey flavor erupted from even the inner most morsel. Almost there.

Smoked Pork Shoulder
(The pinkish coloring along the outside is known as the “smoke ring”, a good sign)

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