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Pulled Pork (and Jamin’s Birthday)

August 21st, 2010

In my opinion, it’s almost impossible to beat juicy, well-done pulled pork—smoked the authentic BBQ way. And believe it or not, this stuff is very easy to cook and hard to mess up!

So if you’re just learning how to smoke low and slow, a great place to start is with a bone-in Boston butt. I just can’t describe how delicious, fun, easy, and great this whole process is. You have to experience it for yourself to really know what I’m talking about.

Last month, I cooked a couple pork butts for my son Jamin’s first birthday party. Now I want to share some pictures and tips for cooking delicious pulled pork everyone will love.

Some experts will tell you to use fresh butts that were never frozen and some tell you to inject or marinate the meat overnight and some will tell you to let them rest for 30 minutes or so after they’re done before you pull them. This is great, and if you feel like doing the extra work, waiting, etc, you should probably do it.

But I can tell you, some of the best pulled pork I ever had was from a thawed pork butt, and I applied the rub just minutes before I set them on the smoker, and we were in no mood to wait half an hour to eat. And I promise it was extremely edible.

So my favorite theory in barbecue is this: barbecue is easy! (Once you have someone to teach you and you get some practice.) Of course, there are extra things you can do to make it better, but don’t let this stuff intimidate you. It is NOT rocket science, even competition style barbeque.

BBQ is about having a great time with family and friends, making memories, and producing some of the most delicious food on the planet.

Here are a few pictures from Jamin’s birthday barbecue and the train birthday cake my wife made.  :)

Click a photo to enlarge it.

How to Smoke Pork Butts

Here are a few quick tips on how to make your own outrageous pulled pork.

  • Get your smoker up to 225–250 degrees F.
  • Start with fresh or thawed pork butt with some nice fat marbling. The fat adds a lot of flavor and helps keep the meat juicy.
  • Unwrap the meat, rinse it, and cut off any bloody, nasty-looking stuff.
  • Cover it with yellow mustard (the kind you’d put on a hotdog). Sprinkle a generous layer of your favorite pork rub over the entire surface (edges, cracks, and all). Pat it down with your hand. Disposable gloves are handy for this.
  • Load the meat onto the smoker grate and close the smoker.
  • Add some fruit wood or your favorite smoking wood to the fire to kick up the smoke at the beginning. We smoke mostly with 100% hardwood charcoal briquettes and add a few pieces of wood at the beginning to create more smoke. The meat takes in more smoke when it’s cold than once it’s been in the heat for a while.
  • Maintain your smoker at 225-250 degrees F.
  • Spray the meat with apple juice about every hour to help keep the meat moist throughout the cook.
  • Cook the meat for about 1½ hours per pound or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 200 degrees. This can easily take 8 hours or even 12 hours depending on the size of the meat and what the weather is like, etc.
  • Extra tip: If the meat reaches the 170s and just hangs there for an hour or two, your butts might be ready to pull off. Sample it for tenderness and see how well it pulls apart. You want to be careful not to dry it out. Ultimately, you will need to determine when it’s done. This takes some skill, but remember, pork butts are easy to cook and hard to mess up if you keep the temperature fairly consistent.
  • Pull it into small chunks or strips with forks or gloved hands.
  • Eat it with hamburger buns (or homemade bread), cheese, and your favorite barbecue sauce. I enjoy coleslaw (finely-shredded) on my pulled pork sandwiches too.

How to Store Left-Over Pulled Pork

Here’s a great way to deal with left-over pulled pork. Freeze it in quart-size freezer bags. When you’re ready to eat some, thaw one bag in the refrigerator, and then put it in a kettle of water over medium low heat.

Indescribable!

Lavern

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9 Responses to “Pulled Pork (and Jamin’s Birthday)”

  1. fred Says:

    Very nice instructions on pull pork at birthday party ,can u recommend a nice flavored rub . Thanks Fred

    [Reply]

  2. Hank Kerr Says:

    Lavern,
    Thanks fo the pix and pulled pork guide. Nicely done. Jamin looks like he is really into bbq; he will be a fine cooking companion for many years.
    Hank

    [Reply]

  3. JIm Wills Says:

    Here is another hint for freezing pulled pork. I place it in a freezer bag and then put a plastic straw in the bag near the top, across from the closer. I seal the bag up against the straw to tht point of almost collapsing the straw and the suck the excess air out. When the bag is nicely compressed I withdraw the straw and finish closing the now vacuum sealed bag. This keeps the meat fresh and helps prevent freezer burn.

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Thanks for your kind comments and tips.

    @fred
    We sell some delicious rubs from Meadow Creek, but they’re not on our website yet. :( You can download our PDF price sheet though for more information. See the link toward the bottom of this page: http://www.smokymtbarbecue.com/contact.php. I thoroughly enjoy making my own rubs. I purchased Jeff Philip’s rub recipe at http://www.smoking-meat.com. That is what I used on the pork butts above. This brisket rub might work for you too: http://www.smokymtbarbecue.com/barbeque-articles/how-to-smoke-a-brisket.php.

    Thanks,
    Lavern

    [Reply]

  4. Bill Says:

    Thanks for the reminders. Doing a large party this weekend for an ex-NHL player and his family.

    I found a great pork spice at Sam’s Club, “Grill-Mates Applewood Spice”… it’s great.

    Pulled pork sliders are top of the list.

    Bill

    [Reply]

  5. Gutpyle Says:

    When you smoke this, do you use a water pan in your smoker???????

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    My SQ36 Meat Smoker doesn’t have a water pan. The TS60 Smoker and other TS models have a pan for apple juice or water. I personally am not sure how much difference it makes, but we like to dump some juice into the pan when cooking on the TS60 Smoker.

    Lavern

    [Reply]

  6. rich guzzo Says:

    Lavern,

    Any other tips to re-heat the pulled pork? I have had some in bbq restaurants that seemed to be soaked in something as they reheated it to keep it moist.

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Adding a sauce or gravy would certainly be an option. We have already added a pork gravy to reheated pork, especially to pork from a whole enclosed pig where it doesn’t get much smoke flavor or in cases where it doesn’t turn out great and you need to cover it up. :)

    Also, check out my blog post on cooking pork in advance:
    http://www.smokymtbarbecue.com/2011/05/17/how-to-cook-pulled-pork-in-advance/

    Hope that makes sense.

    Lavern

    [Reply]

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