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If you’re tired of traditional barbecue pork shoulder (smoked pork shoulder, sometimes called smoked pork butt), today I’m bringing you a dry brined pork shoulder, with a spicy Korean style flare. If you like Korean cuisine, read on for a game changing pork shoulder recipe that’s great for pulled pork tacos, pulled pork lettuce wraps, or pulled pork sliders. If pork shoulder isn’t your jam, try this same technique with pork loin as well, just cut the brine recipe down to 1/2 cup each salt and sugar and adjust cooking time accordingly. When cooked to your liking, shave the loin into thin slices and finish with green onions.
What is dry brine?
Dry brining is how this juicy pork recipe starts and really brings this cut of meat alive. This process seasons the meat similarly to wet brining, but without the water. Coat the pork with equal parts kosher salt and sugar and let rest for 24 hours. Allowing the meat to brine for 24 hours will ensure the brine penetrates into the meat. Initially, moisture is drawn out of the meat from the brine, but the salt and sugars dissolve into the moisture over time and then slowly reincorporate back into the meat making for a very flavorful finished product.
How to dry brine a pork shoulder
This couldn’t be easier—simply put the pork shoulder in a roasting pan or baking dish, rub the salt and sugar mixture all over the meat, cover with foil, and return to the refrigerator for 24 hours. That’s all there is to it. Pretty simple right? If you’ve read some of my other pork recipes you know I am a huge fan of simple.
Grilled Best Korean Style Pork Shoulder Recipe
Serves: 18 | Prep time: 24 hours | Cook time: 7-8 hours
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbs gochujang
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Juice from half of one lemon
Step-by-Step Instructions for Best Korean Style Pork Shoulder Recipe
Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk together salt and white sugar.
Step 2: Rinse pork in cold water and trim any excess fat. This pork shoulder comes from Omaha Steaks and is pre-trimmed to save me the hassle.
For more information about this protein, click the picture.
Step 3: Place pork shoulder into a 12″ x 9″ disposable aluminum roasting pan. Coat all sides heavily with the salt and sugar mix. Cover in foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours, but leaving it to brine 24 hours is preferable.
Step 4: While the pork is brining, whisk together all ingredients for the aioli. Place the mixture in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator. This aioli is great on pork, but I also love it with these steak quesadillas as a dipping sauce.
Step 5: Whisk together brown sugar and Korean red pepper. Gochugara flakes aren’t nearly as hot as typical red pepper flakes because they lack the seeds red pepper flakes come with (seeds are what bring the majority of the heat). If you like your food a little on the spicier side, add in some extra gochugara.
Step 6: After the brine process is complete, drain any excess liquid and brine from the pan, and insert a reliable leave-in thermometer (we recommend the Thermoworks Signals or the ThermoWorks Smoke X4 RF) into the thickest portion of the meat.
Step 7: Light the grill and set up for two-zone heating. Establish the temperature at 275°F to 300°F. Smoke on this style pork is optional, but at most I recommend a touch of pecan. This isn’t traditional BBQ so we don’t want the smoke that traditional BBQ brings from more flavorful woods to overpower the Korean influenced flavors.
Step 8: Place pork on grill over indirect heat. Close lid and allow to cook until internal temperature is 180°F. This should take about 4 hours, at that point your pork will look about like this.
Remove the pork from the grill, baste with juices collected in the pan and coat top and sides with the brown sugar and gochugara mixture.
Cover the pork shoulder with foil and return to grill until an internal temperature of 205°F is achieved. This will take about another 90 minutes.
Step 9: Remove pork shoulder from grill and allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes while you prepare the bibb lettuce by placing it into a taco shell holder.
Step 10: Using a fork, pull pork into a shredded consistency and incorporate any juices from the pan.
Place shredded pork inside the bibb lettuce, top with kimchi and aioli to serve.
Korean BBQ is a great twist on pork shoulder. Its fresh flavors and bright spices are a great way to liven up any meal. Plus, since we’re using bibb lettuce for the tacos, I’m pretty sure this counts as health food.
Make this Best Korean Style Pork Shoulder Recipe:
- 7-9 lb pork shoulder
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes (Gochugaru)
- bibb lettuce
- 2 cups kimchi chopped
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 tbsp gochujang
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- Whisk together salt and white sugar in a large bowl.
- Rinse pork in cold water and trim any excess fat.
- Place shoulder in a 12 x 9 disposable aluminum roasting pan. Coat all sides heavily with salt and sugar mix. Cover in foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the aioli, place mixture in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
- Whisk together brown sugar and Korean red pepper.
- After brine process is complete, drain any excess liquid and brine from the pan, and insert a reliable leave-in thermometer into the thickest portion of the meat.
- Light grill and set up for two zone heating establishing temperature at 275°F to 300°F.
- Place pork on grill over indirect heat, close lid and allow to cook until internal temperature is 180°F.
- Remove pork from grill, baste with juices collected in the pan, and coat top and sides with the brown sugar and gochugara mixture.
- Cover with foil and return to grill until an internal temperature of 205°F is achieved. About another 90 minutes.
- Remove from grill, allow to rest for 30-45 minutes while you prepare the bibb lettuce by placing it into taco shell holders.
- Using a fork, pull pork into a shredded consistency and incorporate any juices from the pan.
- Place the pork inside bibb lettuce. Top with kimchi and aioli to serve.