Easy & Inexpensive with Flavor That’s Out of This World!
Pulled pork is a very, very slowly-cooked meat that is exceedingly tender; and oh, so flavorful! There are various ways of slow-cooking ‘pork-butt’ which is the meat used for pulled pork; and if you were to ask 20 people how they cook this type of meat, you could get 20 slightly different responses.
It doesn’t take a pro to create excellent pulled-pork, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are a few of the basics:
The Meat Is The Key:
If pulled pork might become your culinary passion then make sure you purchase the pork butt, also known as pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is the cut that is the best for texture and flavor and it is inexpensive! You need the meat to be fatty because with long, slow cooking you don’t want the meat to dry out; and the fat in pork butt will maintain the natural juices and keep the meat moist and tender. The ultimate goal is finished meat that is so tender, a fork will easily grab hold of shreds and small chunks with no effort, whatsoever; and pull it away from the bone!
Add Spices & Refrigerate:
One easy method to prepare the pork butt is to either infuse the meat with herbs and spices using a meat infuser or rub the pork with your favorite dry-rub. Either way, you’ll wrap the meat in plastic and just let the flavors soak deeply into the meat’s fibers for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, although you can keep the seasoned pork refrigerated for a full 24 hours, if necessary.
It should be noted that adding marinades is entirely optional. Due to pork butt’s fat content, the meat is moist enough on its own and adding enhancers isn’t necessary; although virtually all the pros who are competition cooks will inject their pork-butt meats with flavor enhancers such as MSG. And speaking of the pros, you might be interested in knowing that all of them use digital thermometers. Relying on a dial thermometer can be risky. You’ll want to monitor your cooker with a good digital oven thermometer and monitor the meat with an equally-good leave-in thermometer.
Use Wood Chips:
Hickory wood chips are a great choice to use when smoking pork butt. Soaking the chips in cold water for about half an hour will create a wet smoke which will allow the wood to burn slower as well as produce a more even-smoking for the meat. Also, the steam that is created will add even more moisture to the meat. The nice thing about smoking is that it works to break down the collagen, or tough connective tissue. When the fat and collagen melts, the muscle fibers have no choice but to become moist and succulent. The pork will take on an enhanced sweetness and incredible tenderness.
It should be mentioned that you would never want to use an expensive, lean pork loin to make pulled pork; it just won’t work. Lean pork simply lacks the necessary fat and connective tissue that is the key to perfect pulled pork.
Set up Your Grill and Get It Going:
If you will be using a gas or charcoal grill, be prepared for it to be in use for 6 to 8 hours, or more. Just like baking a turkey in a traditional oven, your cook time will depend on how many pounds of meat you will cook as well as the thickness of the meat. This means smaller butts will cook faster if they are of the skinnier variety. Allow 1 ½ hours of cook-time per pound of meat. How long the meat will be cooked will also depend on whether you will cook at 200 or 250 degrees Fahrenheit or somewhere in-between.
Insert a digital probe and position the tip directly into the center of the meat. Make sure the probe is at least ½ inch from the bone! Fire up the grill for about 225 degrees and set it up for 2-Zone or Indirect smoke-cooking. Place the meat directly on the grate and do not use a pan. If you use coals, add about 4 ounces of wood chips to them.
Be sure to check your cooker every hour to make sure the fuel is as it should be and that the temperature is holding at between 225 to 250 degrees. If the temperature goes up to 300 degrees don’t be overly concerned but make an attempt to keep it down at least 250 degrees. If you need to add more wood chips, add about 4 ounces at a time every 30 minutes for the first two hours.
‘Meat claws’ are a true necessity to aid in effortlessly and flawlessly pulling the meat away from the bone and allowing the meat to take on its traditional pulled appearance. This indispensable utensil will help to shred the pork before it even hits the platter. Once on the serving platter, meat claws can continue to shred the pork even further. With a 5 pound bone-in pork butt, pull time will take around 10 minutes or less.
The only thing left to do is to decide whether or not your guests will be adding BBQ sauce to their pulled pork. This meat selection is so tender, juicy and tasty that it can truly be savored with absolutely no condiments at all!