This smoked pork picnic roast is incredible. Learn how to smoke a perfect picnic roast using your own rub to take it to the next level.
How did we end up with a Traeger smoker?
Because, somehow, even though we don't have actual TV, I found a cooking show on Netflix talking about smoking meat and then we fell into a rabbit hole, people. A RABBIT HOLE!
Once you're in that spiralling funnel of convincing yourself you need something it's hard to get out.
I am here today to report we are VERY glad we didn't snap ourselves out of buying a smoker when we have a "perfectly good propane grill". Do not fall into that trap - smokers and grills aren't even in the same league!
One day when Kevin was at work, I decided to play. This pork picnic roast was beyond amazing, like yooooo delicious. He came home to leftovers and raved about them so much that he's actually making my recipe again, right now, as a write this post up.
This recipe is dedicated to smokin' and succeedin'.
Tips + Tricks
No. 1 --> Use a rimmed baking sheet when you're applying the mustard and the rub! This keeps in any and all juices and greatly reduces the amount of rub you'll be wiping off your counters for the next 3 days. I've determined that rub is the glitter of the culinary world.
No. 2 --> Disposable tin foil pans are some of my favourite accessories for our Traeger. Disposable doesn't mean one use only - especially if I'm using them for the steam bowl. I just wash out and reuse over and over.
No. 3 --> Shred or slice, that's up to you! This smoked pork shoulder picnic recipe is great either way. If you want to make shredding a breeze, get some of these awesome meat claws.
No. 5 --> Start your roast early. Rule of thumb is 60-90 minutes per pound plus a 1-hour rest. We prefer to get the smoked pork roast on the smoker and have the estimated time of doneness to be at least 2-3 hours before we plan on eating. Don't worry, it will stay hot till serving time.
No. 6 --> I used smoked kosher salt, from my recipe. You can certainly use any kosher salt you like, but the smoked salt is TOP notch.
What Is A Pork Picnic?
The roast that I used for this recipe was a pork picnic roast. Pork picnic is a part of the pig's front shoulder. While pigs walk on all 4 legs and technically have 4 shoulders, the rear shoulders made into ham.
A pig's front shoulder is actually two different cuts. The top half is the pork butt, or pork shoulder. While the lower portion is a pork shoulder picnic roast.
Pork picnic is usually smaller in size, but we've found they are more flavourful meat, even though the picnic roast can have less fat and marbling.
This recipe would work as both a pork butt and a pork picnic recipe.
It's really hard to estimate smoking times, as each piece of meat is different. Although the rule of thumb is to cook it for 60-90 minutes per pound of meat, we strive to have that bad boy done at least 3 hours before we want to eat. This gives us a huge margin and fudge factor, as our experience is that it usually takes longer than you expect.
A cooler? Really?
Yes. But the trick is to use the cooler to keep the meat warm, the same way a cooler keeps things cold, it can keep things hot!
When your smoked pork roast reaches the proper internal temperature, remove it from the smoker, wrap it tightly in a fluffy towel, then slide the fluffy towel into a foil cooler bag, and then put the cooler bag into your hard-sided cooler. Leave the pork in the cooler until it's been resting for at least 1 hour, or you're ready to slice and serve.
Don't fret if your smoked picnic roast is done well before dinner, simply keep in in the cooler until you're ready to slice or shred for serving. I've rested smoked meat for almost 12 hours, and it came out of the cooler nice and hot!
Why does my meat need to rest?
During the cooking process, the muscle tissues tighten, squeezing out a lot of the juice (water) that is present in the meat. By allowing your meat to rest, you are allowing it to suck up some of the juices that have flowed out of the meat. Resting leads more juicy, tender final product.
Pork only needs to be cooked to 145f, doesn't it?
Technically, for safe consumption, pork only needs to be cooked to 145F internal temperature.
BUT we are cooking a well-used muscle here, with lots of tendons, which makes it a tougher cut. Cooking your pork to a ~200-205F internal temperature enables the breakdown of connective tissue and leave you with a deliciously soft, tender, delicious piece of meat.
We love using our awesome wireless InkBird thermometer. It helps us keep tabs on our meat while we are doing other stuff!
What about the rub?
Listen, you could buy rub. Or you could take an extra 5 minutes and make it yourself. Not only is it cheaper to make your own pork rub, but it's also actually tastier because you get to customize it.
This rub is incredibly easy, it's got 5 ingredients;
- brown sugar
- fresh ground pepper
- garlic powder
- smoked paprika
Trust me, you wanna make your own!
Can't have a smoker recipe without a smoker. Kevy and I sprung for a top of the line Traeger Timberline 1300. OMG. I cannot say enough good things about that big black beauty. That said, any smoker will work for this recipe.
Love your smoker? Try these!
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LOVE THIS RECIPE?
This smoked pork shoulder picnic roast is incredible. Learn how to cook a perfect picnic using your own rub to take it to the next level.
FOR THE PORK RUB:
- 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tbsp smoked salt or regular kosher salt.
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
FOR THE PORK:
- 1 bone-in pork picnic roast
- 3-5 tbsp dijon mustard
FOR THE STEAM BOWL:
- 1/2 can root beer
FOR THE SPRITZ:
- 1/2 can root beer
- Start smoker according to the manufacturer's directions - set temperature to 225F.
- Combine all ingredients for the rub in a small bowl.
- Place pork roast on a flat surface, and gently but thoroughly rub the top and sides with an even coat of mustard.
- Using a spoon, carefully spread the rub across the surface, place some rub on your fingers and pat them along the side to ensure even coverage.
- Flip over the shoulder and do the same on the backside. Mustard and then rub.
- Fill a heat-proof dish with 1/2 can root beer and approximately the same amount of water. I use a tin loaf pan.
- Place both the water dish and the pork on the rack in your smoker. If you've got an internal temperature probe, place it now.
- Close the lid.
- Fill a food-safe spray bottle with the other half can of root beer.
- Every forty-five minutes to an hour until the pork shoulder hits 160F internal temperature, spritz the top of the roast with the root beer.
- Once the pork hits 160F internal temperature, pull it off the grill and wrap it in plain butcher's paper.
- Return the pork to the grill. Top up your root beer/water dish with more water if it seems to be running low.
- Increase the temperature of the grill to 250F and cook the pork until the internal temperature reaches 202-205F.
- Once the internal temperature of the pork reaches ~203F, remove from the smoker, and wrap in two layers of tinfoil. Then wrap that into a towel. Then put that wrapped towel into a cooler bag. Then put the cooler bag into a large cooler. This will keep the meat hot while it rests and reabsorbs the juices.
- After the pork has rested for at least one hour, remove it from the cooler, and trim all the excess fat that didn't render. Set aside any juices that didn't reabsorb into the meat.
- Shred the pork, and toss with any remaining juice.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 1533mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 7g