the recipe: Traeger Pulled Pork Meal Kit (Traeger Meal Provisions)
the smoker: Traeger Ironwood 885
the time: 7-9 hours, though I intentionally cooked for 12 hours
the full nelson: as hearty and filling as it gets thx to an extra rich pork shoulder
The Super Bowl is around the corner and some are gathering their slow cooker chili recipes or maybe buying out their local Wingstop(not sure that is possible but sounds awesome). For me, The Super Bowl means a super grill session and thanks to my pals at Traeger, I tested out their Pulled Pork meal kit from the Traeger Meal Provisions line. Spoiler alert: all you have to do is smoke the pork shoulder. The sides are cooked, you just defrost and heat them up. Here is how it all went down:
And it is a multi day process. The sides and pork shoulder arrive frozen. The instructions say to give it a day to defrost but in my experience I like to give it at least two days. Once the shoulder is defrosted, you pat it dry, score the skin and rub it with a brine mixture provided in the meal kit and stick it in the fridge for a day.
I should also mention that along with the pork and sides, the kit comes with that dry brine mix, BBQ rub, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, slider buns, pickled jalapeños and some snacks to munch on like beef jerky and cashew nuts. Oh and there is an instruction card too. Yeah, it’s pretty well thought out.
On the second day, aka the cook day, you’re going to rinse off the dry brine. Then pat the shoulder dry and apply the rub(Traeger’s classic rub). From here you could go to the grill but I wanted to let my shoulder rest in the fridge for a few hours.
I planned for an overnight cook. So around midnight I set my shoulder skin side down on a 400 degree preheated Traeger. I let it cook for an hour per the instructions. Now the goal is to crisp up the skin which was more than accomplished in an hour, at least on this cook. So keep an eye on it.
After the sear you flip it and place in an Aluminum tray which also comes with the kit. Set the Traeger to 275 and let it cook till you hit an internal temp of 203 degrees. I used the Traeger probe and my Thermoworks Smoke probe thermometer. I don’t play games.
Smoking pork shoulder at 275 is on the hotter side. I’ve had experiences smoking shoulder where it takes 30 minutes shy of forever, so I was down to get this cook going at 275 especially because I had guests arriving at a specific time.
Turned out it cooked fast. Even though “I went to bed”, I was up here and there checking my Traeger app on the phone and my Thermoworks remote. After 3 hours I reduced the heat to 250 and then to 225 as it was cooking too fast. The last thing I wanted to do was deal with a fully smoked pork shoulder on four hours sleep.
And I was totally cool with that. I was firmly ahead of the game and I intentionally slow rolled the cook to accommodate my party start time. Once done the shoulder should rest for at least 30 minutes . . . up to 90 minutes per the instruction card. It was stupid tender and took minimal effort to do this:
Word to the wise – keep this warm, the flavor really gets lost when it cools to room temp. There will be a ton of rendered fat and you can use it to keep the meat moist while the tray stays warm either in the Traeger or the oven. Just make sure you’re not crowding the sides. Speaking of . . .
The kit came with cornbread, collards, mac n cheese and baked beans. All are fully cooked and just need to be defrosted and heated up. You could do this in the Traeger but since my shoulder was finishing a marathon cook, I just stuck ’em in the oven.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cornbread, as it was a touch dry. I dug the baked beans and collard greens, which get hit with some premium source bacon, also included in the kit. You just have to fry and chop it up before adding. Now I am not one of those people that lives for Mac ‘n Cheese but I will tell you this side dish was a huge hit. It had a heavy hit of butter and garlic, like to shrimp scampi levels and that is kinda awesome. Overall the sides are heavy so a little scoop goes a long way. You can feed a lot of people here.
The slider buns were huge. You might want to consider hollowing out some of it just so you’re not full off one. Or you might want to skip the bun all together. The pork is very rich and really does stand on its own.
I had a bottle of Carolina Vinegar sauce from Two Bros BBQ in San Antonio(as seen on Cheap Eats) and that spicy acidic sauce does a fine job of cutting through the richness of the pork. This pork was literally as rich as carnitas, my cutting board was soon covered in lard, so anything spicy and acidic will work.
This kit has literally been feeding my crew for a week. So even if you’re having a lot of people over, I’d consider this meal kit fit for serving a larger crowd than the 24 slider rolls advertise. And you’ll have lard for rest of the winter. I already bought collard greens and black eyed peas to use some of it.
Whatever you cook have a fun Super Bowl and GO BENGALS!!