Pulled pork is a bbq favorite. It’s actually pretty cheap and real easy to make, too. There are also a bunch of varieties and different ways to cook this. I’ve tried several things and this is by far my favorite way so I’ll stick with that.
Your first option comes in choosing the cut of meat. Generally for pulled pork you can either use a bone in picnic shoulder or a Boston butt. I used to use a pork shoulder, which is basically fully covered in skin and fat and will keep all the juices in. The last time that I made pulled pork I tried using Boston butts, which is also a piece of meat with the bone in, but none of the skin around it. This piece is much easier to prepare, as most of the fat will render throughout the meat and leave you less waste to clean up.
I picked up a pack of two butts for around $35 and probably got meat for a good 20 real meaty sandwiches. You can’t beat that!
Next, you have the choice of how you want to cook this. No matter what you choose, this meat is cooked low and slow. I prefer to cook on an electric smoker with some wood chips for added flavor as it’s easy to keep temperature. You can cook with charcoal or gas bbq, or even in a crockpot.
You also have the option of injecting the meat. A lot of people will use apple juice, pineapple juice, Dr Pepper, root beer, Jack Daniels…the list goes on and on. I never injected until these last butts, and I could go either way. I used some Dr Pepper with a little bit of McCormick pork rub mixed in. Came out great. If you don’t have an injector, you can get one in our store, or you can let the meat soak in the fluid overnight. If I choose to rub the meat the night before, I also like to throw a chopped onion on top for extra flavor.
Lastly, you will want a good rub. You can make your own or use a premade seasoning. I like to mix up a bowl of about a 50/50 ratio of McCormick pork rub and brown sugar. Sprinkle this onto the meat and gently rub in. You can trim the meat slightly, but you want to keep some fat which will render down and keep everything juicy. I chose to slice a crosshatch on the fat cap and get some rub inside. (About 50 varieties of seasonings and rubs are now available in our store).
Now the fun part. You want to figure that this will probably take somewhere between 8 and 12 hours to cook, depending on temperature, size of meat and other variables. Now everyone will tell you the perfect temperatures to wrap you meat, and the internal temperatures it should reach etc, etc. Most people say that you should have your smoker between 225-250°, and when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160-165° you should wrap in aluminum foil, throwing in some apple juice. Once the internal temperature reaches 205° pull it off, let sit for 30-60 minutes then pull.
I don’t like to go by temperature but rather by look and feel. I know it’s less precise, but it’s just how I’ve always cooked. So I will figure that I will smoke for about 8-10 hours, at which point the meat should be just starting to fall apart. Then I will wrap in foil tightly, and let cook for another 2-3 hours. The great thing is, you can wrap these in a towel and put in a cooler for up to 5 hours! So you can cook overnight, put in the cooler around 11 or 12 the next day, pull it later and eat for dinner.
To pull the meat you want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes after pulling off the smoker. Place in a large bowl or pan so that you can collect the juices. There are tons of tools out there to pull apart the meat,but your hands and a fork work just as well. Start by removing any excess fat. Keep all the good meat in the pan with the juices and discard the fat. Next, pull apart and mix the meat with the juice.
Some people use a drip pan which goes on the rack under the meat, to collect the drippings. I haven’t tried this yet, but I think that the meat withholds enough juice for my taste. You’re ready to eat!
You can add some bbq sauce if you want, but the pork should have plenty of flavor without any sauce. When I choose to add sauce I like to first heat up some onions in a skillet, then add bbq sauce and toss the pork in it. Comes out great!
This deserves to be on a good roll, so make sure you don’t skimp out there! I like making pulled pork sliders on King’s Hawaiian rolls. They’re sweet and real tasty.
Pork shoulder or butt
Rub (homemade or packaged)
Dr Pepper (optional)
Smoker / BBQ / Crock pot
Large pan or bowl
Pulled pork is one of my family’s favorite, and this is my go to recipe. I give this a 10 out of 10 all day, every day!
Here are just a few various pictures I have taken in no order, really. I’ve experimented with cooking in a pan to hold all the juices, with different rubs and injections. The bone should easily pull right out, that’s how you know that the pork is cooked to perfection!