Getting Started

The pork collar is a boneless center-cut portion of a “pork butt” or “Boston butt”. The collar is cut from the shoulder area and is the perfect choice when looking for a smaller portion to make smoked pulled pork. Get a better look at the differences by visiting our breakdown of The Difference Between a Pork Shoulder and Pork Collar article.

How Much Pork Do You Need?

It’s a good rule of thumb to plan on about 8-ounces of finished pork per person. Remember, when smoking a pork collar there will be some loss due to the fat that will render out and “shrink” during the cooking process. But due to the trim on the collar, this loss is minimal as very little trimming is required prior to cooking. Plan on about a 10-15% loss.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Pork Collar?

Time is quite possibly the most important ingredient needed when smoking any meat. And a collar is no different. Cooking at a temperature of 300* F will easily break down the internal marbling and give a beautiful bark to your pork collar. This method can be used on a variety of smokers such as an offset smoker (Jambo Pit), a kettle grill (like a Weber), a Kamado grill (such as a Big Green Egg) or a wood pellet grill (Green Mountain Grill). For two collars averaging 5 pounds each, a cook will take approximately 6 hours – before allowing time to rest.

Prepare the Collar

Time is quite possibly the most important ingredient needed when smoking any meat. And a collar is no different. Cooking at a temperature of 300* F will easily break down the internal marbling and give a beautiful bark to your pork collar. This method can be used on a variety of smokers such as an offset smoker (Jambo Pit), a kettle grill (like a Weber), a Kamado grill (such as a Big Green Egg) or a wood pellet grill (Green Mountain Grill). For two collars averaging 5 pounds each, a cook will take approximately 6 hours – before allowing time to rest.

PorkColar-Shoulder_SRF_Butcher_Shop-755x320

Trimming 

Very minimal trimming is needed on a Snake River Farms pork collar. The external or hard fat will render out upon cooking and provide excellent flavor to your finished product, or can be easily removed upon the finished cook.

Rubs

Rubs can be applied up to 24-hours prior to cooking and are an integral part in the cook process. While there are a lot of rub combinations, for pork you want to make sure there is a savory component as well as your choice of sweet or heat. To keep it super simple, we suggest our signature SRF Perfect Pork Rub which we created with the help of longtime friend and award-winning BBQ pit master, Steph “the genie” Franklin.

Pork_Collar.00_02_45_28.755x320

It is not uncommon to see a viscous or sticky ingredient such as oil or yellow mustard used as a binder to help the rub to adhere to the collar. This is strictly a cooks choice step. While using a binder does not really add to the final flavor it allows the rub to easily stick to the collar.

Using your hands or a shaker, put some distance between the seasoning and the collar, then let it rain. Your goal is to have a and liberal and even layer of rub on the entire collar.

After the collar has been seasoned it can rest safely, covered in refrigeration, for up to 24 hours. Prior to adding the collar to the smoker, remove from refrigeration and allow it to rest, for at least 1-2 hours, at room temp to prepare it for the smoker. By adding a collar that is close to room temperature to the smoker, it prevents a sudden drop in temperature of the smoker, adding to a longer cook time.

Smoke and Fire

Very minimal trimming is needed on a Snake River Farms pork collar. The external or hard fat will render out upon cooking and provide excellent flavor to your finished product, or can be easily removed upon the finished cook.

Meat Meet Grill

It’s time to load the grill as soon as the smoke turns from white to blue-gray. When the smoker is at desired temperature place your room-temperature collars on the smoker. Next step, grab a cold beverage, relax and let the smoker do the work.

The First Few Hours

Your instructions for the first few hours are easy, but sometimes hard to follow. Do nothing. Do not even take a peek under the hood. Leave the brisket alone. While you’re cooling your heals, the collar will take on smoke and start the metamorphosis from big chunk of meat to delicious smokey goodness.

During this time, a rich dark bark forms and the desired tender texture to wrap the brisket is achieved. While an instant-read thermometer is key to any cook, we are also looking for the perfect color, and follow the “wrap on color” technique. As soon as the exterior bark is deep rich mahogany (dark reddish/brown) color, and the internal temperature starts to climb out of the stall, it’s time to wrap.

That's a Wrap

Wrapping the collar aids in the cooking process and helps to tenderize the meat. We recommend using aluminum foil or a disposable foil sheet pan as we will be adding liquid, sweetener and butter to the wrap.

In disposable sheet pan add a few tablespoons of sweetener like agave, honey, syrup or brown sugar, a bit more rub, half a stick of butter and 6 to 8 ounces of stone fruit juice. Place the collar in the pan and repeat process before covering tightly with foil and placing back on the smoker.

PorkColar-Shoulder_SRF_Butcher_Shop755x320

The Finish

Determining when your pork is done is a bit of art and science. Temperature is a good guide, but the feel of the collar is the final factor to decide when it is ready to come off the grill. Just as we wrapped on color, we are looking for the perfect time to “pull on feel”. The temperature range for this can vary but is approximately 206°F to 208°F. When your brisket reaches this point, insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the collar. It should pierce the bark and feel effortless when removing the probe, it should feel like it’s sliding out of a cube of butter. If it does not feel this way, continue cooking, testing every 15 minutes for doneness. When your collar passes the “feel” test and temperature range is sufficient, remove from the grill.

Give it a Rest

Resting is one of the most important, and most overlooked steps, in cooking any meat. The rest allows time for the temperature to equalize and juices to be reabsorbed. The temperature will actually increase from the carryover cooking effect. Crack the wrap slightly allowing heat and steam to escape, re-cover and allow the collar to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes but up to an hour or more, for ease of pulling. Resting is a key step to getting your collar as juicy as possible.

Pull and Serve

Once your collar has rested it is ready to pull. Discard most of the juice from the pan and reserve to use later (see reheating tip). Using hot gloves, forks or tongs begin to pull the pork. Discard any un-rendered fat. Add juice or sauce as desired – but avoid over saucing, you don’t want to overpower the taste of the delicious pulled pork you just worked so hard for.

pulled-pork755x320

Pulled pork is great when served as a main dish but can easily be used in a variety of recipes. Don’t be afraid to get creative, from sandwiches and salads to nachos and pizza, the possibilities are endless.

Reheating tip: Keep the juice from the pork if you plan to cook in advance and reheat the pork. You can use a gravy fat separator or refrigerate and remove the solidified fat from above the juice prior to serving. Warm the juice on the stove or in the microwave and add it to your pork prior to reheating as so it will stay nice and juicy for more than one meal!