Last spring, I wrote a blog post about how to make world famous ribs. If you missed it, you can find it HERE.
Ribs aren’t the only thing I enjoy smoking on my Big Green Egg. In fact, there is something that takes 4 times the smoking time, but is much easier to make….my killer pulled pork!
Pulled pork is made from a pork shoulder butt which is available at most local butcher shops. At under $4/lb, pulled pork is a very affordable way to feed your guests, whether it just be a few friends, or larger gatherings. I have done both, and always receive raving reviews.
To make pulled pork, you do need some kind of a smoker. There are some pretty affordable options out there including the Weber Smokey Mountain which always receives excellent reviews.
Preparing The Pork Butt
There are 4 basic ingredients that go into making pulled pork: yellow mustard, apple juice, spice (aka. rub), and the pork butt.
The meat preparation is quite easy. The meat will have two sides; the top side will be mainly comprised of red meat, while the underside will have a fat cap that should be trimmed to ¼ of an inch.
Next, use a needle injector and inject a couple cups of apple juice inside the pork butt to provide some sweetness to counter the spiciness of the rub.
After this, coat the pork butt with a liberal amount of yellow mustard. I do this because the mustard will help the rub stick to the pork butt. Surprisingly, the mustard flavour disappears during the smoking process.
Lastly, coat the pork butt with 2-3 coats of the rub. I like to buy chicken & rib rub made by Prairie Smoke & Spice, but any similar type of rub will do. There are lots of free rub recipes on the internet, so you can even make your own.
I like to complete these steps before lighting the smoker so that the rub has a chance to bind to the mustard coating.
Firing Up The Smoker
Cook time for the pork butt is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at a temperature of 225 to 250F, or until the internal temperature reaches 195F. The cooked meat should also rest for 1-2 after it is cooked, so I have to work backwards to determine my start time.
This roast weighed 9.5 pounds and required 18 hours of cook time, so it went on the smoker at 9pm.
Once your smoker is lit and the temperature is stabilized, place some wood chunks on top of the charcoal to add smoky flavour to the pork. I like to use both oak and a fruit tree, such as cherry or apple. Allow about 15-20 minutes before placing the pork on the smoker so that the smoke can stabilize.
The cook is my favourite part of the process, but its not the easiest. Once you place the pork butt on the smoker, you have to carefully monitor the temperature of the smoker to make sure it doesn’t get too hot, or too cool. I usually check the smoker every 30 minutes, and a few times during the night to make sure things are as they should be.
Fortunately, there is a lot of forgiveness during this process, so if the smoker gets too cold or too warm there is no need to panic. Simply adjust the temperature back to the desired range and you will be back on track.
During my last cook in January, the smoker went out overnight, and then ran out of fuel in the early afternoon – but the end product was as good as I have ever made.
There is only one way to know when the pork butt is cooked, and that is by its internal temperature. I use a meat temperature probe with a wire that plugs into an external monitor to monitor the temperature. These can be found at places like Superstore.
Once the cook is done, the pork will have a nice, dark caramelized crust. This is known as the bark and it the most flavourful part of the pork – a nice combination of smoke, spice and meat!
While rest for the cook is always recommended, the pork butt also needs to rest before it is ready. Resting the pork allows the internal juices to be locked into the cooked pork which prevents it from drying out.
To rest the pork, first wrap it in a couple layers of aluminum foil, then an old towel around the outside, and place in a room-temperature cooler for 1-2 hours. The pork will continue to cook during this time and stays very warm.
The Pork Is Ready!
About 30 minutes before you eat, it it time to shred the pork. It will still be hot, so I like to use a small pair of gloves, covered with some food-safe plastic or latex gloves, to shred the meat for eating.
The pork is best served on white buns and topped with some BBQ sauce. I prefer to eat my sandwich memphis-style by topping the sandwich with some sweet cole slaw! So good!