Tutorial: BBQ Pulled Pork

So this is my current week-end BBQ project: Pulled Pork out of the BBQ smoker :-). As a teaser, this is how the result looks like: tender, juicy slow-cooking smoked pork meat out of the smoker:

Pulling the pork

Pulling the pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork

It is called ‘pulled’ because the meat is pulled into succulent little shreds after the cooking and smoking is finished. I love it to make sandwiches, and left-overs can be used the day after or frozen for later use.

The overall plan is the following:

  1. Rub the meat the day before with a dry rub.
  2. Smoke it for 8-12 hours the next day at 110°C until it reaches a core temperature of 88°C.
  3. Let it rest for about 1 hour in aluminium foil.
  4. Pull the meat into small pieces.
  5. Enjoy the pulled pork sandwiches 🙂

The Pork Meat

My wife organized a perfect piece of pork shoulder without bones from the local butcher: 2.348 kg of raw meat:

Pork Meat Weight

Pork Meat Weight

The shoulder is nicely marbled. During smoking the fat will melt and it it will lose some weight:

Marbled Pork Shoulder

Marbled Pork Shoulder

Then applied a little vegetable (sun flower) oil to prepare it for the rub. The dry rub sticks better to the meat with that in my opinion:

Vegetable Oil Applied

Vegetable Oil Applied

The Dry Rub

For the dry rub I used this recipe:

  • 6 tbls (table spoon) brown sugar
  • 4 tbls paprika powder
  • 1 tbls kosher salt
  • 2 tbls garlic power
  • 2 tbls Rudy’s Rub
  • 1 tbls ginger powder
  • 1 tbls onion powder

Mix everything in a bowl:

Dry Rub

Dry Rub

Apply the dry rub. I massage it into the skin real good, plus under any flaps I may come across. Getting a good rub is important, because the rub will be distributed for the pulled meat.

Applied Dry Rub

Applied Dry Rub

Rub detail :-):

Rub Detail

Rub Detail

Covering it with plastic foil, and put it into the refrigerator overnight.

Wrapped ini Plastic

Wrapped in Plastic

The Morning

Putting it out of the fridge at 5am: the rub nicely covers the meat:

Rub the next morning

Rub the next morning

The meat has now time outside the fridge to warm up to about 15°C. Filling the ‘Cactus Jack‘ with wood:

Cactus Jack

Cactus Jack

Firing up the Smoker in the morning at 05:30am:

Starting the Fire

Starting the Fire

Now it has time to warm up the smoker and to create a nice firebox:

Fire Box

Fire Box

The Smoking

Putting the pork shoulder into the middle of the smoker chamber. An aluminium drip pan with warm water is placed below the meat.

Staring with a meat core temperature of 16°C:

Pork Shoulder in Smoker

Pork Shoulder in Smoker

After 1 hour, core temperature at 37°C:

After 1 hour

After 1 hour

After 2 hours, core temperature at 54°C:

After 2 hours

After 2 hours

After 3 hours with a core temperature of 64°C:

After 3 hours

After 3 hours

After 4 hours at a core temperature of 64°C:

After 4 hours

After 4 hours

From time to time, adding firewood to keep things going:Adding Firewood

After 5 hours, temperature at stalled at 72°C:

After 5 hours

After 5 hours

Still a long way to go up to 88°C….

After 6 hours still at 72°C. Wait, wait, wait…..

after 6 hours

after 6 hours

Then, finally after stalling at 72°C for two hours it reached the next level :-):

Passed 72°C

Passed 72°C

And it is looking good after 7 hours:

After 7 hours

After 7 hours

Smoking it for 8 hours and it is at 76°C:

After 8 hours

After 8 hours

After 9 hours at 78°C, then 10° to go!

After 9 hours

After 9 hours

After 10 hours it reached 81°C:

After 10 hours

After 10 hours

And finally after 12 hours it hits 88°C :-).

After 12 hours

After 12 hours

Time to rest it for 30-45 minutes in heavy aluminium foil:

Wrapped in Foil

Wrapped in Foil

And it lost some weight:

Weight after smoking

Weight after smoking

The Sauce

During smoking, there is plenty of time to prepare the BBQ sauce. Beside of using the famous Rudy’s Sauce, here is my version:

  1. 200 ml water
  2. 1 tbls bouillon concentrate

Cook this up, then add

  1. 5 tbls tomato paste
  2. 5 tbls mild mustard
  3. 5 tbls apple+honey vinegar

Mix together in a bowl, then mix it to the sauce:

  1. 1 tbls garlic powder
  2. 1 tbls onion powder
  3. 1 tbls salt
  4. 1 tbls black pepper
  5. 3 tbls brown sugar
BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce

Simmer it for a few minutes, then let cool it down. The mustard gives a nice orange color:

BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce

Temperature

I logged the temperature inside the smoker and inside the meat over time: The meat temperature stalled at 72°C for about 2 hours. Don’t panic, just wait and go through it:

Temperature

Temperature

Pulling

Taking the pork out of the foil:

Unwrapping the Pork

Unwrapping the Pork

With two forks the meat gets pulled. It is so soft that no force is needed! It has a nice crunchy bark and is soft and tender inside :-):

Pulling the pork

Pulling the pork

Bark and Juices

Bark and Juices

A pan full of pulled pork:

Pan full of pulled pork

Pan full of pulled pork

Pulled Pork sandwiches:

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Toasted Buns

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Toasted Buns

Summary

Pulled Pork is easy, but takes a long time to smoke and cook. It is tender, juicy and full of flavour, ideal to make it in a BBQ smoker. I very much like the bark: crunchy and full of flavours. If you have any tips and tricks for Pulled Pork BBQ, post a comment!

Happy Pulling 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Tutorial: BBQ Pulled Pork

  1. Erich,

    You kinda mixed your metaphors with that Tomato based sauce. Pull pork at it highest is done in the western part of the Carolinas… and is invariably done with a vinegar based sauce. As you move from north to south it varies from being more mustard-y to being more tangy/vinergarry. The best reference is the BBQ bible by Steve Raichlen. http://barbecuebible.com

    As someone commented the most important thing in great BBQ is to keep the temperature flat… which is easiest to do with a PID. I use one called the BBQ Guru which has a web server in it which is nice. Obviously you should build one.

    Alan
    engineer@iotexpert.com

    Like

    • Hi Alan,
      ah, thanks, always learning something new 🙂
      Obviously my Texas friends did not know the differences. And thanks for the hint about the BBQ guru: that’s definitely something to check out :-))

      Erich

      Like

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