Get you buns and slaw ready because this pulled pork barbecue recipe is supremely easy yet still packed with flavor. It's a great recipe to start out with if you're new to smoking.
I have to confess to being someone who normally likes my meat less well cooked and having also tasted many a hog roast that was overcooked and dry I was a little sceptical that pulled pork could be cooked for such a long period of time and still remain moist and tender.
Well how wrong I was to be sceptical. Pulled pork has been revelation to me and my salvation from overcooked pork!
This is the absolute basic pulled pork barbecue recipe so if you are a
newbie to smoking then it is a great place to start and check out my pulled pork tips first. I have deliberately kept this recipe stripped back to the basics so that you can understand the process and deliver the results so you too will soon have the confidence that cooking something for a long period of time doesn't necessarily result in and dry burnt offering. When you've got the hang of cooking pulled pork you can then move onto develop the different flavour combinations.
For this recipe you need a meat smoker set for indirect cooking as opposed to the barbecue grill where the coals are directly heating the meat and this is required because the trick is to cook the pork slowly and at low temperature.
The low and slow cooking method helps breakdown any toughness in the meat so that the end result is supremely tender and the pork can be shredded or pulled apart.
The traditional cut of pork to use in a pulled pork barbecue recipe is the shoulder (also known as the butt). It's ideal for this type of cooking because it's not the most lean and I guess because of this it's also quite cheap. Unless you're into smoking, you wouldn't normally buy the shoulder.
Pulled pork is typically served as a sandwich with coleslaw and a barbecue sauce. For both these latter two ingredients you can either make or buy. If you’re into homemade the I’ve got bucket loads of barbecue sauce recipes to choose from and there’s also some great chilli barbecue sauces that you can mail order.
This pulled pork barbecue recipe contains no added ingredients, it's all about the smoking process, understanding how to get pork with a lovely pink smoke ring that's tender and pulls apart.
Serves:- 8 -10 people
Preparation Time:- 0 minutes
Cooking Time:- 10-12 hours approx
Total Time:- 10-12 hours approx
Set your smoker up for indirect cooking and place a water bath under the grate. The water bath offers 3 key benefits
Trim any fat off the top of the pork butt. You don't need fat to moisturise the pork and it will act as an impermeable membrane blocking smoky flavour penetration.
Place the pork on the cooking grate of your smoker and cook for approximately 120 minutes per pound weight of meat at 110°C or 225°F. (A range of 93°C – 120°C or 200°F – 250°F is acceptable for smoking).
Note:- Pulled pork barbecue recipe timing is approximate, what's more important is that you hit the necessary core temperature before trying to pulled the pork.
Let the pork sit in your smoker for the first two hours (don't interfere with it) and thereon open the lid of your smoker every hour and spray the pork butt with apple juice.
When your pork starts to get close to it's allotted time (you'll see shrinkage away from the bone) check the temperature on the hour as well as giving it a spray. You're looking for an internal meat temperature of 200°F or 95°C to know that your meat is ready for pulling. (A digital remote thermometer is handy and don't let anyone tell you that 190°F is hot enough - it isn't.)
You have to be patient on this point. Don't think you can get to the 200°F or 95°C core temperature quicker by raising the temperature in the food chamber. Technically you can, but the pork won't pull as easily and it will be chewy.
If you find that the meat temperature appears to stabilize round about 160°F or 70°C and you start to wonder whether it ever will hit the magic temperature, don't worry, be patient, don't crank up the heat, it will.
Through the cookout the temperature will gradually rise, it will the plateau for a number of hours and then start to rise again. (See notes below).
When you do hit that magic temperature, take the pork out of the smoker and allow it to cool for up to 60 minutes because this helps the pulling apart. Now it's time to serve up.
This is such a traditional pulled pork barbecue recipe you've just got to give it a go - believe me it's really worth the time and effort.
The temperature plateau that I referred to earlier in this pulled pork barbecue recipe is a natural part of the slow cooking process where moisture near the surface of the meat sweats out. Just like when we sweat, energy is used to evaporate the moisture from our skin and this has the effect of cooling us down.
The same applies to the pork, driving off surface moisture prevents the core temperature from rising. This process continues and the temperature will remain static until there's no more moisture to sweat (and then the temp starts to rise again) and it's at this point that the crisp outer layer to your pork butt will form. Don't worry about the butt getting dry though. There's plenty more water in the connective tissues and as they break down (tenderizing the meat) this water is released into the now crust encased butt.
I also have to point out that using a water bath also serves to elongate this plateau so you can shorten your cookout by eliminating the water bath if you want. I still use it because I think that it still helps moisture retention in the longer term and because of the point I made earlier about harnessing the smoky flavour.