In my world the only way to do pulled pork is on a smoker with my secret BBQ rub. Since not everyone has a smoker you can do this on a gas or charcoal grill using the indirect method. The indirect method is simply cooking putting the heat source on one side of the grill and the pork on the other side. It is best to put a drip pan under the meat to catch some of the drippings that will then help provide steam to the chamber.
What you need:
- 1 Pork Shoulder – These are called pork butt, pork shoulder or picnic cuts. They come with and without bone, I prefer one with a bone.
- Rub – There are plenty of commercial rubs available to try and some of them are great, there are also a number of recipes out there. I suggest finding a recipe and using it and then if you enjoy the process next time maybe make some tweaks and make it your own. I have tweaked my current recipe over 20 times and I finally have a rub that I really like for pulled pork and a separate one for ribs.
- Old Bath/Beach Towel
- Aluminum Foil
- Charcoal/hardwood chunks or chips – If you are using chips use a smoker box or make a packet with aluminum foil and add your wet chips to the packet and throw it on the grill to give you some smoke. If you are using a charcoal grill you can do the same as well as add chunks/chips to your charcoal.
- Meat Thermometer
What you do:
- Cover your pork with your rub as early as 12 hours before you plan to cook it. Some people like to slather on some mustard before applying the rub, I have done it both ways and do not have an opinion on the subject.
- At least 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking pull your meat out of the refrigerator to allow it to come up in temperature.
- Get your smoker or grill heated up to 225 – 250 degrees. This is the temperature that you will be cooking at. (I have been known to run my smoker up to 325-350 and have had great results, it cuts down on the cooking time and really saves on fuel. This is something I suggest trying at least once.)
- Once your grill/smoker is at temperature place it on the rack and close the lid. Don’t keep opening the lid, the pork is still there – I promise! Every time you open the lid you are costing yourself about 15 minutes in extra cooking.
- Keep an eye on your temperature and enjoy your day. You should check on it once an hour to make sure the temperature is staying steady. Make any adjustments like adding additional wood, charcoal, or adjusting vents.
- It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook. About half way through check the internal temperature of the meat so you know where you are.
- The temp will continue to climb during the cooking until you hit somewhere around 160-180 degrees. This is what is called “The Stall” do not panic just let it happen and bask in the knowledge that you know that this is normal. This is one of the most important parts of the process as this is when the connective tissue is breaking down and your pork is becoming awesome!
- DO NOT PULL THE PORK OFF THE SMOKER AT 160-180 degrees…. no matter what your cookbook says about pork being done … Your pork is not done yet! Yes you could eat it and not get sick but it won’t be tender and won’t be good.
- Wait until the internal temp reaches 190-195 degrees, I have actually waited until 200 degrees before. Now wrap it in foil tightly and then wrap it in an old towel. If you have a cooler you can place your wrapped package into it or place it into an over or microwave that is not being used. Let the pork rest for at least 20 minutes and as long as 2 hours. This will allow the pork to continue to cook and open up a little. No it will not be dry or over cooked.
- Unwrap your present and pull the meat apart with your hands or use a fork. Even though the pork has been resting for a while it is still hot so I suggest using a couple of forks… I use my hands but not everyone can handle the heat.
- You can serve the pork a number of ways but I suggest not dumping a ton of BBQ sauce on before you serve it. I am not against using a little bbq sauce on my pulled pork but if it needs sauce to be served then you screwed something up.
- Enjoy Your Hard Work!