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Pulled Pork: An Instructable

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This is true BBQ, there will be a smoke ring, dry rub, smoke, a baste, and minimal saucing. All of these steps can be to the individual taste, the amounts I give are general guidelines and depending on my mood I'll even alter them somewhat. This is an entry for the BBQ contest.
 
 
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Step 1: The Ingredients

Rub: For the size of roast I recommend, one part is roughly equivalent to 1 TB
4 parts paprika
3 parts kosher salt (do not use table salt)
3 parts brown sugar
2 parts chili (not powder of chilies) powder
1 part cayenne pepper
*The following ingredients in a measure that all adds up to one part roughly equal but again it's up to preference*
onion powder
garlic powder
dried mustard
black pepper

1, 4-5 pound Boston butt pork roast or other large, bone in pork roast (not ham)
1 bag of wood chips for smoking (available at wal-mart and maybe even Lowe's/Home Depot)
Charcoal (if you have a charcoal grill)
Propane (if you have a gas grill)

Baste:
1 cup of ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t liquid smoke (buy it at wal-mart or make your own (instructable for another time))
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Sauce:
1 yellow onion chopped fine
2 garlic cloves minced
1.5 cups ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T mustard
1 T chili powder
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 T maple syrup
salt to taste
pepper to taste
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Mikey85673 years ago
OK so I haven't done a Boston butt yet, but will very soon. I've done full pigs, ribs (pork and beef), tenderloins, ect.... So I've have experience with BBQ. I am no expert by any means and learn something new all the time. I will say my preferred method is charcoal (you can make your own, look it up on this site) and prefer pecan as the wood for smoking (nice flavor, not too strong). OK so to my point. I know many people here (Alabama) who do smoke their butts with tinfoil. Helps keep the juices in and such. When I say many I mean about 10 different people at least. They have won many awards in competitions and such. The trick is in the time, the temps, and the sauce. Thats what wins the awards. Yes time and temp are major factors in the end products, but also the sauce. You can have the best prepared meat, cooked for the right times and at the right temps only to be ruined by the sauce applied (by the person eating it or the cook).

So heres the trick with BBQ! Make it how you like it! Not everyones going to like your end result, thats a fact! Each person and cook prefers different things in BBQ. Some like chunked, some like pulled. Some like runny sauce, others like thick, some like to put on the amount of sauce they want where others like to hear the meet scream "I'm Drowning!".

And for sure not all chiefs will agree on the best way to do it. Thats why there are so many different types of BBQ and so many different flavors of sauces. Something I may like you may not.

Do it how you like, the way you like, and remember yes it's a passion for some but for others it's the joy of getting friends together and drinking some beer and eating some good food, but most of all it's having a good time!
Jasco4 years ago
I have a ?...I did my first pork butt on the
weber yesterday and into last nite and learned that i should start earier in the day! It went okay but having split the 90 briquettes on each side of the drip pan using the minion method and a temp range of 225-275 degrees my  problems were that one side went out before catching the unlit briquettes fully and the piece was only at 162 degrees by 10:30 PM when my hunger overtook my need for authenticity and I took it off wrapped in foil for 10 minutes and sliced off a few slabs for a bun and some slaw. Theprospect of waiting for a 190 internal temp was too much to bear. Can I put it back on the grill  & continue or has slicing it compromised the process? 
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  Jasco4 years ago
well what I've found works well is to put some unlit briquettes in first and then dump the lit chimney of briquettes onto the unlit ones and it increasing the chances of them lighting correctly. In terms of being able to put it back on the grill, you should be able to, but I can't promise it will be as juicy as it would be if you hadn't sliced it simply because when you slice you lose some juices. Try it and see what happens
You made several egregious errors. The first is you used a gas grill and even encouraged it in your instructions. Anyone that cooks a large cut of barbecued meat on a gas grill should be burned at the steak. Get a nice charcoal grill and you will learn that there is not a single advantage of gas over charcoal. The second is you encouraged the use of charcoal briquets. Briquets are the reason most people think charcoal requires more clean up. They are charcoal that has been ground, cut, and glued back together with a number of additives. They are filthy and make food taste like crap. ALWAYS use lump hardwood charcoal. Oak, mesquite, hickory, sweet gum, apple, and cherry are my favorites. The third is you didn't do any smoking once you pulled it out of the foil. Without smoking it heavily you won't have that fine crust that sets really great bbq apart. The fourth is you completely failed to mention the 160-170 degree internal temperature that you have to cook pork to. Nice rub though. Come to the South sometime and you'll see.
Our charcoal grill used to get hot, and not be tilted, then as we used it over the years it slowly tilted somehow, on cement ground, and seemed not to get as hot.
First, I wouldn't consider my "errors" egregious. I said from the beginning that things were up for adaptation. I don't use a charcoal grill at home and don't have as much experience with it so I'm sorry for the error about briquettes versus lump charcoal or for "encouraging" gas grill use but again this is personal preference. Secondly, in terms of heavily smoking it, having it in a smoke filled grill chamber for 4 hours will contribute to smoking it, obviously not as much as having it in a dedicated smoker but this still does the job. Thirdly, if you can manage to cook a pork shoulder for 6 hours at the temperatures I recommended and it doesn't reach 160 degrees than you have a super pork shoulder my friend because I'm here to tell you that would be practically impossible. Fourth, I spend 9 months of the year in the south and I've been cooking for almost 15, I make do with what I have and what most people would have. Most people don't have dedicated smokers outback, they have gas grills and can get wood chips so I catered to this demographic of people. That's what instructables is about not making how-to's for a bunch of things that normal people can't do or don't have access to
Well said.
You can't smoke meat while it's wrapped in aluminum. It's pretty easy to smoke meat without a dedicated smoker. Just put wet wood chips on your fire and viola..... smoked meat. I suggest you give charcoal a good try. One of the beauties of charcoal is I can keep a consistent temperature for hours and hours and by varying my heat and using direct or indirect heat I can have a large cut done in 3 hours (not recommended) or I can give a pork should or butt, a beef brisket, ribs, etc 2 or more days to get delicious. When I do large cuts they go on first thing in the morning and generally spend ~12 on the grill, about 2-3 of which is smoking with one of my wood chip blends. While I won't get into a debate over experience I will throw out there that I have a number of big bbq competition titles and am very competent when cooking anything over fire.A decent charcoal grill is significantly cheaper than a decent gas grill. This is especially true when you get in the high end but is true across the board. Therefore, charcoal techniques could make this even more accessible. I'm sorry to come across as a dick but I'm very passionate about open flame cooking and there are certain things that shouldn't be sacrificed and don't need to be for accessibility's sake. I'll post an instructable on beef brisket early next week. Look out for it and let me know what you think.
Still looking for it.
If you read the instructable you'll see that after I give the meat a jumpstart on getting tender by wrapping it in foil I remove the foil and allow it to smoke with wet woodchips in the fire. If you keep the fire so low that it takes two days to get to the point of being tender you have more than likely ostracized a good number of people who don't have that much time to dedicate to the project. Regardless of price, most people I know have gas grills. I'm agreeing with you that a good charcoal grill is as effective and depending on what you're cooking can taste better than gas, but it's hard for me to personally do an instructable when I don't have a charcoal grill, and even if I did, I would probably still use my gas grill because in my experience more people have them. In terms of sacrificing and passion for the craft of open flame cooking, I understand but if you can achieve similar results at home with my process without having to buy a specialty smoker, or equipment that most people don't have then it's worth it. You beef brisket instructable I'm sure will be very informative but if it follows what you've been saying about mine, I won't be able to make it because I don't have any of the specialty apparatus you're going to be calling for, nor do I have two days to cook a piece of beef
"If you keep the fire so low that it takes two days to get to the point of being tender you have more than likely ostracized a good number of people who don't have that much time to dedicate to the project." If you waited until your guests show up for dinner to put the meat on, that would no doubt be true. However, low slow barbecue gets started well before people start gathering around the table, and creating it doesn't occupy you for every minute of the cooking time. I held a q fest for friends last summer where the "cooking time" was mostly spent whitewater rafting, drinking beer on the porch, watching the demolition derby at the town fair, and getting a solid eight hours of sleep. So yes, you probably do have your "two days" (more like 12-18 hours for a pork butt or brisket) to cook a piece of meat. You just have to go about it the right way. Oh, and btw -- at 225F, it really does take that long to come to temp. It's all good -- the longer it cooks, the better the connective tissue breaks down. You dig into that stuff before it's had time to break down in the gentle heat, it'll be gnarly. I think you did quite a decent job of creating pulled pork in something that's not a smoker, but you had to know that this stuff inspires passionate reactions. People will disagree about whether your results are indeed "similar", legitimately so. Heck, there are a ton of recipes for "barbecued pulled pork" all over the net that are made using a crock pot! My personal points of disagreement would be: 1)cooking time...yeah, I know you can knock it down some with foiling, but when you're foiling you aren't smoking. 2)resting time. Let that bad boy rest for an hour or more before you pull it. 3)saucing. Covering the butt with sauce and returning it to the grill, why? Leave the sauce off, foil the butt, let it rest in a cooler (without ice) so it can relax, pull it, and either add the sauce then or leave it off and let people add their own. I'm sure the results are damn tasty, though, and it's a quite good instructible for someone with a gas grill. I would still make changes as noted, though.
Ok, you fellows might convince me if you'd be kind enough to give an Instructable on starting the fire in a matter of minutes without resorting to lighting fluids [allergic reactions to petrochemicals] the best type/style of BBQ for doing this kind of cooking and how to manage not to create an inferno and therefore blackend chicken with the grease =)
I use my propane [nope doesn't bother me] BBQ daily to keep the heat out of the kitchen during the summer and the very idea of huffing on a sputtering flame, coaxing it into a hot enough fire to cook our meal is daunting to say the least. Anyone 'Game'?
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  lazemaple6 years ago
Well if you have a propane grill my suggestion would be to turn two of your three burners onto high and leave the third off then start all of your chicken on the hot side until the skin is crispy (not charred) then flip it and repeat on the other side then move the chicken over to the cool side and continue to cook until the juices run clear (an internal temperature of 160 degrees)
oops! Only 2 burners here =) Got rid of the big one when son left home as it seemed to consume a lot of gas.
Will give that a try, thanks I think my biggest fault is I have to learn to slow down... always in too much of a hurry to get the job down. Need to plan better for sure.
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  lazemaple6 years ago
Well the same strategy applies, turn on one burner full bore and leave the other one off and then start them on the hot side and then move to the cooler side. Once they're moved over, minimize the amount of times you open the grill because the cover serves to turn the grill almost into an oven when the meat is on the cooler side and the temperature inside a grill will plummet if the cover is kept open too long or opened too many times. Good luck
you can also try putting the meat directly on the wood chips, which would add a nice nutty flavor to the meat.
futbal3336 years ago
instead of basting the pork during the cooking process, you should try brine the butt in 1 part salt, 1 part sugar, and 4 parts water. this will keep the meat moist during the whole cooking process. the 4+1+1 is flexible; instead of water (and sugar) use pineapple juice and for the salt use soy sauce or a salty liquid.
BartSimpson6 years ago
Damn, where are all the long pork recipes?
I like to pit roast the long pork. Keeps the neighbors from asking so many embarrassing questions..
Are you talking about the same long pork I'm talkin' about?
static6 years ago
While all the ingredient photos where over kill, the instructable was well done. But oh my! we ended up with too many cooks in the kitchen. ;) I make my pulled pork with an off the shelf pork seasoning packet cooked in my slow cooker.
Subvert6 years ago
As a native Kansas Citian with a bit of smoking experience, I do like your instructable. The whole vinegar based sauce vs thick and spicy/sweet sauce thing interests me and I recently smoked my first Boston butt and found a recipe for a carolina style sauce to try with it. I can understand the appeal, especially since I like vinegar flavors anyway, but I still tend to prefer my native sauces. So it's interesting seeing your take on blending components from different regions. By the way, the one Kansas City bbq joint (Arthur Bryant's) with the closest ties to KC's original bbq has kind of a vinegary/mustardy sauce. The first time I had it, I thought it was kinda vile, but I gave it another shot with an open mind and can appreciate it now. Most Kansas City sauce has a good about of heat to go with the sweetness. I may adapt your sauce recipe and add a bit more spice and heat. I'm thinking maybe cayenne, coriander, red pepper flakes, and some of the other ingredients from your rub. But I'm kinda confused by the foil first step. If it is sealed in foil while being smoked, how is the smoke getting to the pork? You've got your smoking step at the end, but leave it as optional. Have you tried it at that point to NOT smoke it? I'm just not convinced there's a lot of smoking going on, but like I said, I'm confused and may have missed something. My suggestion would be to do your smoking step first, and then cook it to temperature with the foil on last. My understanding was that most of the smoke gets in the meat during the earliest part of the cooking process anyway. I've gotten impatient with the cooking process before when my charcoal fire wasn't getting the internal temperature high enough, fast enough, so I finished it off roasting it for a bit in my oven. I was pretty happy with the results and would do it again. Anyway, I did appreciate your gas grill instructions, because not having a charcoal grill is so not a reason to deprive yourself of good barbeque.
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  Subvert6 years ago
The foil first step allows the meat to get a jumpstart on breaking down because it's functionally braising in it's own juices for the first hour and half or so. In my experience when I haven't wrapped it in foil to start with I did have better smoke flavor because it was exposed to smoke for almost 2 hours more but that was at the expense of juicy meat. I know some people who really like having drier meat that is more accommodating to sauce and if this is the case then by all means remove the foil step and go straight to smoking. Also, there's 4 hours of smoking going on after the foil is removed which helps the flavor of the meat. There is also liquid smoke in the sauce recipe I provided which adds another layer of smoke flavor.
AidanG6 years ago
I REALLY like the mix of Carolina and KC you've got going on here. Thanks for an excellent instructable - I need to go get some pork butt now...
Artekus6 years ago
Great Instructable! Just out of interest, why is kosher salt a better choice than table salt? Also, would rock/sea salt be a good alternative? Thanks for your attention :)
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  Artekus6 years ago
Kosher salt is better than table salt for a few reasons, the first is that the flavor of the salt is much less potent, but is actually more "salty" Table salt is enriched with iodine and this gives a harsh almost metallic taste to table salt. The second reason is what when adjusting for taste kosher salt is easier to pinch and distribute into and an a dish versus even using a shaker of table salt. As for rock and sea salts, those would be suitable alternatives, I just wouldn't use the 10 dollar sea salt or other gourmet salts because it would just go to waste. Kosher salt comes in 3 pound boxes and is relatively cheap so that's why I recommend it. Also, in terms of meat, kosher salts purpose is for "koshering" meat. If you're not jewish this probably doesn't mean much but long story short it facilitates the process of drawing out the water from the meat and then having the meat draw it back in. Hope this helps.
your eating pork, i think "kosher" left the building a long while ago. (also don't get mad, its a joke)
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  snipegoat6 years ago
haha touche i always thought it was a bit ironic
Kinda like making bacon bagels. :)
Kosher salt and pickling salt do not contain iodine... and yes I use sea salt and pickling when the other is not available.
Because Alton says so, of course. ... and the reasons already listed.
To be a little more specific, there are two major differences between kosher salt and table salt. The first is that kosher salt is pure, with no additives. The second and more important reason is the shape of the salt crystals.

Table salt is made up of large solid crystals. Kosher salt is made of lighter rougher crystals, with significantly more surface area. Think the difference between an ice cube and a snowflake. Just like a big snowflake would melt more quickly than a solid ice cube, these large, rough, flaky crystals dissolve more quickly in water, and by the same token, will be help to draw moisture out of the meat more quickly.

These are the reasons why most professional chefs and cooks make heavy use of kosher salt. Anytime you're salting meat, kosher salt is a better choice than table salt. (One other note, because of kosher salt's coarser texture, it occupies a greater volume for a given weight. So if you're measuring by volume for salt, you need to use *more* kosher salt than you would table salt, typically 50%-100% more.)

As for sea salt, it depends on the salt. Some sea salts are solid crystals, much like table salt, and would not be as good of a choice. Some sea salts are flaky salts, more similar to kosher salt, and would work just fine.
who says you cant get smokey flavor from a gas BBQ.
treenail6 years ago
David,

Hank Hill would disagree about propane vs. charcoal.

After all, Hank makes his living 'selling propane and propane accessories'

http://www.fox.com/kingofthehill/

Ha haha!
unspecified6 years ago
Hey wait a minute ... this isn't an instructable is it?
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  unspecified6 years ago
what's your point?
Raiders7576 years ago
This looks great!!! I'm a fan of smokin' good BBQ myself. Some advice I got from a competitive BBQ winner, is to rub some regular ol' plain mustard on your meat of choice during this step. It sounds crazy, but it doesn't effect the flavor at all. Instead it helps the rub stick, as well as create that tasty thin black crust we all love so much. Of course, this only to be done by those willing to wait 24 hours after applying the rub. It did seem nuts, but I tried it out, and have never turned back. I'm a believer in the mustard trick.
rsub86 years ago
Excellent, nicely done, lots of good info. The foil seems like a good idea to keep the meat from drying out during the first phase of cooking, and retain the juices from the fat cap, as you pointed out. What do you think about brining the meat overnight as a step before applying the spice rub? (this is what I usually do when smoking a large pork shoulder or butt, bone in, prepared without any spices or seasonings) gmv+
Ticking-Timebomb (author)  rsub86 years ago
The amount of salt in the rub mitigates the need for a brine. This process is not only a spice rub but what is also called salting the meat. The amount of salt in the rub will serve the same purpose as brining if left for the full 24 hours. Now if you're going to or want to brine, reduce the amount of salt in the rub to 1 part or else the meat would be overwhelmingly salty. Thanks for the positive feedback!
Good point. Thanks...
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