Pulled Pork is a great BBQ meal. It’s easy to do, is relatively cheap and tastes great. The popularity of pulled pork has sky rocketed in Ontario in the last few years. You can find a version of it in tons of restaurants now and lots of people making it in their crockpots or ovens. I always make mine in my smoker. The smoke makes it for me. The only drawback to pulled pork (if there is one) is that it is a time commitment with the cook lasting usually 12-16 hours.
The traditional cut of meat you use for pulled pork is called a “Boston Butt” which is taken from the shoulder of the pig. I order mine from Kohns in London. Never been disappointed in the quality. When you unwrap it you will notice a lot of fat on one side of the pork. This is called a “fat cap” and we want to keep it on. The only fat I would trim is any hard fat. If it feels soft leave it. This will help with moisture and flavour during the cook.
You will need a dry rub, sauce and if you choose to do it, an injection. Injections are a great way of putting flavour way down deep in a large cut of meat. You can use anything you like in an injection. A good one for pork is to mix some pineapple juice with some soy sauce and hot sauce. 3 parts juice, 1 part soy and as much hot sauce as you like.
I didn’t use an injection on this pork but I do from time to time.
Start by injecting your pork and dry rubbing it about 6-12 hours prior to the cook. Put in the refrigerator and let get happy.
Fire up your smoker to 230 degrees. I used my Masterbuilt for this. Add wood to the fire (I used hickory) and wait for the first signs of smoke. I use wood chunks as they smoke longer. Start with 3 good chunks.
Put the pork in the smoker fat side up.
You can see in the above picture that I have a meat probe in the pork. This allows me to monitor the progress of the pork during the cook.
Keep adding wood as smoke dies out until the pork hits 140 ish. At this point the amount of smoke flavour the pork will take in will be miniscule so I don’t bother wasting the wood chunks.
The magic number I personally look for is 193 degrees internal temperature. This could take anywhere from 12 hours plus. It depends on the size of your pork. They are usually around 8-10 pounds.
One thing to be prepared for. At about 145-165 degrees the temperature of the meat is going to stop climbing and sit there for what feels like forever. This can even be hours. What is happening is at this temperature range the internal fats and connective tissues begin to melt and break down. Once this process is finished the temperature will start to move again. Trust the process. Don’t crank the temp. Just look away or go do something else while this happens. Staring at the meat thermometer won’t make it move, trust me, I’ve tried.
At 193 degrees you want to remove from the smoker. Should look sorta like this.
If it’s darker than this, that is normal. In fact I was a little disappointed this one wasn’t darker actually. It’s not burnt. It’s called “bark” and is some of the tastiest parts.
Here is an easy way to tell if it’s done properly if you don’t have a meat thermometer. There is a large bone in these roasts. You should be able to grab the bone and just pull it out with almost no resistance. If it comes out easily and clean you are where you want to be. If it won’t come out put it back in the smoker.
See the bone?
Break apart into large chunks and let sit a few minutes. It’s 9000 degrees right now.
Pull the pork by hand. Discard any chunks of hard fat or any connective tissue you find. Keep in mind however that you do want most of the fat to stay. It’s good!
I always add a bit more dry rub into my pulled pork and my sauce and mix well.
The pink is not undercooked meat. That is what the smoke does to the meat. It’s called a “smoke ring” .
Serve with coleslaw and buns to make awesome sandwiches!