Yeah, yeah there’s a million and one versions of the basic BBQ rub, what is so special about this one? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is the beauty of the basic rub. Not too pretentious, not too overpowering, not too fancy yet not too boring. In classic French cooking, you master the master sauce and then from that sauce, you can create countless variations. This is an outdoor cook’s primary seasoning agent. From this recipe you can swap the sugar for maple syrup or honey, add different types of chile powders, and even add spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and dried herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano. You can get salt that was mined from various regions that will impart unique flavors just don’t overload the rub with too many options as the subtle salt flavors will be lost. If you have whole black peppercorns and whole chiles you can lightly toast them over low heat to help release their essential oils. Drop them into a spice grinder and viola! you have amped up flavor.
This is from Alton’s series Good Eats in which he converts 2 clay pots into a backyard smoker. You can probably find a used hot plate at Goodwill or similar thirft stores. The clay pots should be new, otherwise you run the risk of adding ‘unpleasant’ flavors to your meat. Also note the size of his shoulder as compared to the size of the clay pots. Most shoulders (known and labeled as a picnic or Boston butt) come packaged whole and the hunk he is smoking is about half of that. He did trim some of the fat cap off as no smoke can penetrate the fat and flavor the meat inside. Only meat that is exposed to smoke will absorb the smoke flavor. The fat typically just runs down the side of the meat and into your smoker or drip pan. The more fat on the outside just results in more fat being rendered off and into your smoker. There are different theories as to fat cap up or down and if you have a drip pan I suggest fat cap up. Otherwise the fat should be placed between the meat and heat source. Some even start with the cap up and flip the meat halfway through. Pork shoulder is relatively bullet-proof and you can over cook it without doing a lot of damage. Most meat you cook for a long time via the slow and low can handle over cooking. The meat itself contains plenty of fat and connective tissue and only extended cooking at low temperatures can break them down.