Smoked BBQ Elk Shoulder
We usually bone out shoulders from our big game for roasts, steaks, and burger, but we occasionally leave them whole for slow-cooked recipes like this one. This scapula (the upper part of the shoulder) from a young bull elk is perfect for this style of cooking.
Slow smoking, then braising, leaves the elk tender and juicy.
Because front shoulders see a lot of use in a wild animal, they can be on the tough side. Slowly smoking and then braising like this allows the connective tissue to break down, leaving a tender, shredded meat that is perfect for sandwiches or other recipes.
Start by trimming away any exterior fat and connective tissue. Coat the meat in your favorite wild game seasoning, or just a blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. We used the excellent Wild Game Hunters Blend from PS Seasoning on this one.
Trim the shoulder and season it well on all sides.
Place the shoulder directly on the open grate of your smoker at 225 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 140-150 degrees. This time will vary, depending on size of shoulder, but start monitoring it after 2 hours.
Place the shoulder directly on the smoker rack until it reaches a 140-to-150-degree internal temperature.
Once your shoulder has reached temperature, move it to a large aluminum roasting pan. Add a large sliced yellow onion and pour in a couple of your favorite beers. If you would rather not use beer, add an equivalent amount of beef stock.
Move the shoulder to an aluminum pan, add the onions and beer or stock, then cover tightly and return to the smoker.
Cover the pan tightly with foil and return the meat to the smoker. Cook until the meat is tender and pulls easily from the bone.
The meat is ready when it pulls easily from the bone.
Once the meat is ready, pull the pan off the smoker and allow the meat to cool for several minutes. Don a pair of heavy rubber gloves to pull the meat from the bone and shred it. Remove the bone, leaving only the pulled meat in the pan. Add 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce and blend well. Return the pan, uncovered, to the smoker for an additional 45-60 minutes.
1 bone-in elk shoulder
PS Seasoning Wild Game Hunters Blend rub
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 12-ounce beers or 24 ounces of beef stock
2 cups BBQ sauce