After serving for the Big Game, a few friends were asking for my recipe for Pulled Pork so here goes. It’s a bit of a mix of my favorite recipes so consider this to be tips and tricks. First off, be sure to make enough so you have leftovers for friends and co-workers as well. Tip of the hat to Naked Whiz’ Pulled Pork recipe (Safe for Work) and Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company, one of my favorite places to get BBQ rubs.
First off, get yourself a good Pork Shoulder or “Boston Butt”. I use 6lb or more so there’s plenty for leftovers. There’s a big debate over whether to buy bone-in or boneless. Boneless is they remove the bone at the butcher. Some say the value of the bone-in is to conduct heat through the meat and protects the “Money Muscle”, a ribbon of meat that is prized among BBQ competition Judges. Others say you end up paying for useless bone. Mine were trimmed and tied from Fisher Meats which if you’re in the Seattle area is worth the drive for the experience. I don’t compete, but I like potentially shorter cooks so I get bone-in.
For the cook, you need to set your fire to slow and low about 220deg. That’s Fahrenheit in case you’re keeping score at home. Plan for about 2 hours per pound. Then add one hour to get the fire up and going, and two hours buffer for when guests will arrive so you don’t have the dreaded, “Sorry everyone it’s still cooking” conversation.
For the taste, it’s all in the Rub. I love the Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust. Some people like to slather yellow mustard all over to give the rub something to adhere to. Some like to inject their pork butts like a heroin addict. Sometimes I shoot my Butt with a Apple Cider Vinegar, Apple Cider, and Rub mix.
Then there’s the application of the Rub. A lot of people like to shake the rub over the Pork. Forget that, it’s a waste. Put your rub on a cookie sheet and roll the Pork all over on the cookie sheet. Imagine it’s a pig in mud. Trust me, it will develop better bark as a result. Transfer to a roast rack sitting over a second cookie sheet. Then pour the rub from the first sheet over the rub. Repeat. Don’t waste any rub, they all cost as much as printer ink. And caviar.
If you have a Big Green Egg, follow the directions here on how to set your fire.
If you decide to cook on something other than a Big Green Egg, there are a lot of websites that can give you tips & tricks so I won’t copy/paste the Internet here. Just be sure to fully stoke the firebox. Here you can see you’ll burn about 3/4 of a full bag of Lump Charcoal. Put a few chunks of Hickory and I like a lump of Cherry wood as well. If your fire goes out in the middle of the night, don’t panic. Set your oven to 220deg and transfer. Relight the Egg and repeat. If you don’t have an Egg, you should. I’ve owned Weber and Traeger and everything in-between, electric, propane, charcoal and wood. Only my Big Green Egg will survive to be willed to one of my sons. My friends Guy and Nicole at Thompson’s Hearth and Home will sell you one at a reasonable price. If you bring Guy a bottle of Maker’s Mark, you might get a discount. 😉
Most agree you need to pull your pork when it’s hot. I say wait 15 minutes so it’s not 220 of nuclear delight. I also use latex rubber gloves to keep my hands from getting too slick. That and it’s always funny to see the looks on guests faces when I suit up. Shred the meat with large serving forks or a fork/spoon.
Once shredded, sample and add more rub to season. You may choose to add BBQ sauce as well. I like Sweet Baby Ray’s, but your mileage may vary. I like to serve in oversized foil serving trays.
What to do if you overcooked (Dried out) the Pulled Pork
This has never happened to me, so I don’t know what you’re talking about so just panic and start over. 😉 OR, here’s a little hack BBQ cooks uses – Coca-Cola. NEVER use Diet or Coke Zero, only the red can classic real deal. You can rehydrate pulled pork almost turned to boot leather using this method and a guarantee no one will ever be the wiser. If you use water, you’ll lose the flavor profile, it will taste soupy. Trust me.
Reheating the Leftovers
As my Mom used to say, the great thing about this meal is you can freeze it. Use a good food sealer or Ziploc bag and submerge in very hot (aka near boiling water) until warmed. It keeps the moisture in as well. Add Coca-Cola if you need a little rehydration as well. Alternately you can put in the oven or microwave but it will lose some of the flavor and texture.