Memphis style pork shoulder is a must make barbecue recipe! It’s so flavorful, especially when paired with the homemade bbq sauce, and leftovers are super versatile.
The Godmother and I fell in love with Memphis style barbecue during our first cross-country moves for work. In fact, we stopped at Memphis the first night our cross-country drive from Georgia to California. We didn’t know what to expect from Memphis barbecue, but we left there delighted.
Memphis style barbecue is distinct from other styles in that sauce is entirely optional for preparation and serving. It is also distinct in the sense that it is often added to other foods, such as pizza or nachos. Though beef and chicken are some of the meats used in preparing Memphis style barbecue, our meat of choice was pork.
During our stay in Memphis, we went to a popular restaurant in the Germantown district. We tried the ribs and the pork shoulder. The pork shoulder was out of this world, and I became a fan of “dry” style Memphis barbecue. “Dry” style means that no sauce is used in its preparation (but can be added upon serving), whereas “wet” means sauce is used before, during, and after cooking. Sugar is often the lead ingredient in dry rubs, but it is accompanied by a variety of ingredients to attain desired flavor. Having sugar for your dry rub is key in order to have that delicious bark when its time to eat.
Like most barbecue styles in the United States, “low-and-slow” is the way to go for preparation. For pulled pork low-and-slow is crucial. Otherwise, the exterior will fully cook before the center has a chance to reach the right temperature, and it will be difficult (if not impossible) to easily shred the meat with just forks.
In coming up with my own Memphis style barbecue recipe, I went with the pork shoulder. Although I went with a “dry” style preparation, I felt preparing a sauce is a great addition to heighten the meal experience. Do not rush in following this recipe…this will take hours with some necessary preparation the night prior. There are ways to “cheat” time in the preparation, but who wants to say their secret to moist barbecue is pre-boiling the meat?
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as the Godmother and I do…eat up!
An homage to Memphis style barbecue!
- 10 lb pork shoulder, bone-in
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 T paprika
- 2 T salt
- 2 T onion powder
- 1 T ground black pepper
- 2 t ground New Mexico chili powder
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 t minced garlic
- 1 t Amazon red hot sauce
The night prior, mix all dry rub ingredients. Score the pork skin, and apply the rub all over the pork. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
Prepare your grill by preparing an aluminum pan containing with wood chips and filled halfway with water. Place the aluminum pan in the center of the bottom of the grill and arrange the charcoal in equal parts on each side. Ensure the grill temperature does not exceed 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pork shoulder on the center of the grill directly above the aluminum pan.
Smoke for eight hours or until the meat temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pork shoulder and let it rest for one hour.
While cooking, prepare the sauce by simmering the onions until they become translucent. Add all other sauce ingredients, with ketchup being last. Let simmer until reduced to desired thickness.