Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepperto taste
4green onionscoarsely chopped
Prepare the Pork Marinade:
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, garlic, onions and chili powder; saute until onions are tender and spices are fragrant. Add in the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, orange and lime juices, and chipotle with adobo; cook just until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let cool completely.
Cut slits diagonally across the fat cap going in opposite directions. Doing this creates more surface area for the seasoning to form bark and the fat is able to get crisp and delicious. Put inside a large 2 gallon zip-top bag or into a large pan; reserve 1 cup of the marinade, pouring the rest over the pork. Seal the bag, pressing out all of the air or cover and refrigerate overnight. Place the reserved marinade into a jar and refrigerate.
The next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
Set up the Grill or Smoker:
Meanwhile, set up your smoker for what is called the burn-down method. To do this, fill the charcoal bed with unlit coals and add only a few lit coals to the very top. The coals on top slowly light the ones underneath and burn down slowly over time. If using a charcoal grill, set it up for an indirect heat technique and place the soaked wood chips on top of the coals. Preheat the grill from 220 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)
Place the pork on the grill, cover. Bring the temperature up, using the vents to regulate the temperature inside the grill is about 225 degrees F. David likes to use a combination of dry and wet wood chips, alternating between the two. The dry gives a quick intense smoke and brings the heat up. The wet wood chunks provide a lower, slower smoke and bring the heat down. Heat adjustments can be made using this technique.
Check the grill or smoker every hour. You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chips to each side of the grill at least the first 4 hours. Smoke the picnic shoulder until a dark “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature of the meat is about 190 degrees F, about 5 hours; use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
One thing to keep in mind: The ideal temperature of a properly smoked pork shoulder is 190 to 195 degrees F. However, the internal temperature of the pork can increase by 10 degrees even after it’s been removed from the grill. Therefore, it is best to remove the pork from the grill when the internal temperature is 180 to 195 degrees F.
Remove the shoulder from the grill and let the pork rest 30 minutes. When you take it off the grill, the temperature may rise to an optimal 200 degrees F, perfect! Any hotter than that and could overcook your pork, which results in dry, chewy meat.
Shred the pork either with two forks or if the meat has cooled enough, by hand. Heat the refrigerated reserved marinade; pour in small amounts onto the shredded pork for added flavor and juiciness (do not over saturate).
How To Make the Spicy Cabbage Slaw:
Make the Spicy Cabbage Slaw ahead of time, while the pork is smoking so that the flavors can marry and get really happy together.To make the slaw, shred the cabbage; add to a large bowl with the carrots, jalapenos and green onions.Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, and celery seeds until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine. Cover with a lid and place into the refrigerator until needed.
How To Freeze and Reheat The Applewood Smoked Carnitas: Don’t feel discouraged by the amount of rendered meat. You don’t need a party or even like football. While the spicy cabbage slaw will not freeze well, the carnitas freeze beautifully!To Freeze: Package the carnitas inside a freezer-safe zip-top bag, squeezing as much of the air out as possible. Freeze up to 2 to 3 months.To Reheat: Empty the carnitas from the freezer bag into a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan and let the carnitas steam. Continue to warm until the meat has thawed and most of the water has evaporated. Time will vary depending on the amount of meat and the size of the carnitas.If freezing, you can pull the frozen carnitas out of the freezer to make a quick weeknight meal, perhaps transforming it into a new Mexican dish of choice.Important Calorie Information: Calories are based on carnitas and slaw only and do not include tortillas or optional servings.The recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay.
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