Introduction: Pulled Pork: an Instructable
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.
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*
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)
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
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
Step 2: The Rub
Note: The recipe you're about to prepare is a synthesis of different "styles" of BBQ for the uninitiated, in general midwestern BBQ is a thick sauce that is often sweet, Carolina BBQ is often very thin sauce with it's main component being vinegar. I go to college in North Carolina and I grew up in Ohio so this recipe consists of a vinegar based baste as well as a thick sweet sauce with vinegar undertones.
1. Mix all the rub components together in a small bowl
2. Rub the rub into the pork roast, be sure to get real friendly with your roast especially if you can't give it a full 24 hours to rest.
3. Wrap the roast tightly in saran wrap and place it in a separate roasting pan so that juices if they escape don't cover the inside of your fridge (I didn't place it inside a pan one time when I made it...horrible choice)
4. Let it sit for at least 8 hours, 12 is better, 18 better still but a full 24 is the best
5. While the meat is relaxing, soak your wood chips in a bowl of water for at least half an hour, a full hour is better
Step 3: Prepare the Grill
Normally when I grill I like to see those distinctive diamond patterned grill marks, the ones that make people say "yum grilled stuff" but this is not the time or place for the heat required for those.
1. If using Charcoal read the next 3 steps then skip to step 5 if using gas skip down to step 4 and follow to conclusion
2. Load a chimney starter (10 or so bucks at lowes/wal-mart/home depot) about half full with charcoal. Place newspaper soaked in cooking oil in the bottom and light. When you see ashes forming on the charcoal it's ready
Note: Please I beg you for flavor's sake DO NOT use matchlight charcoal or lighter fluid. The matchlight is charcoal that has been soaked in lighter fluid, both lighter fluid straight up and matchlight will contribute an unwelcome acrid flavor to the pork because it sits in the smoke for so long. Use a chimney starter or one of those electric lighters that was used in
Home Alone to burn the shit out of the guy's hand.
3. When the charcoal is ready, build what is called a "modified two level fire" this is when coals are placed on one side of the grill only creating a hot zone and a cooler zone. We'll be using the cooler zone.
4. On your gas grill light the far right or far left burner and turn it up to high. the burner in the middle may or may not come into play because temperature regulation is crucial and the middle burner is the temperature control in this recipe. The far burner from the one lit on high will be where the meat sits and will never be turned on. Never.
5. Take your woodchips from the previous step out of the water and place them in an aluminum pie plate with holes poked in the bottom or in a pinch a double layered pouch of aluminum foil also with some holes poked in the top side.
6. Place this packet on the grill grate over the highest heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you retrieve the meat.
Note: I said earlier that temperature control was key, under no circumstances should the grill be allowed to reach a temperature over 300 degrees, nor should it dip below 200 degrees, the obvious butter zone is about 250 degrees, at this temperature the meat comes up to temperature slowly and dissolves all the collagen and connective tissue in the meat and makes it delicious.
Step 4: Preparing the Meat
The meat will look different from when you started, namely it will be much wetter. Long scientific/culinary story short, the salt in the rub created a sort of osmosis where the salt sucked out all of the water from the pork (because it's hypertonic to the meat) when all the liquid is pulled out, the meat cells want to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium, so it sucks the water that now contains salt, and all the flavoring compounds of the spices back into the meat. This will not happen in less than 8 hours but the optimum results are after 24. No longer than 24 however or else the liquid will be expelled again and this time it wont come back in. Also all the spices on the outside form a crust after grilling and this is my favorite part of the finished product.
1. Remove the meat from the fridge and open the package over the sink to catch any juices that have collected.
2. Wrap the meat in a double layer of aluminum foil paying special attention to seal the ends/seams.
3. Take outside to the grill
Step 5: Time to Grill
Now it's time to grill.
1. Open the grill cover and place the meat on the cool side of the grill
2. Cover and let cook, minding the heat for 2 hours. For those using charcoal you will need to stoke the flame occasionally. When you notice the temperature steadily creeping down, prepare a new load of charcoal and quickly dump it back into the grill to maintain temperature. For those with gas, make sure to check the temperature about every 15 minutes and adjust using the middle burner as necessary. If you live in a really hot area or are cooking on a hot day the temperature might even creep over 300 with the middle burner off, if this happens, open the cover to let off some heat, turn the burner down to medium and wait for the temperature to come down. Just remember never to let the heat go above 300 degrees!
3. After the two hours have passed, transfer the foil package to a plate (not a serving plate it's not done yet!) and allow it to cool for a few minutes. When it's cool enough to touch remove the foil and place the meat back down onto the grill and continue to cook. Now would be a good time to add more wood chips to develop more smoke flavor but that's up to you.
4. Continue to cook for another 2-4 hours, there;s no way to put an exact time on it as all cuts of meat and all roasts are different, and there's just so many different factors but it will never be less than 2 hours and shouldn't take more than an additional 4.
5. After the meat is put on for the second time you can retreat indoors to prepare the sauce and baste.
Step 6: The Baste
The baste is used to introduce flavor, moisture and by extension flavorful steam into the mix along with the smoke.
1. Combine all the ingredients in a large can (I tend to use a family sized baked beans can but any large can will do).
2. Take the baste along with a pastry brush out to the grill, place the can on an unused cooler section of the grill
3. When you go out to check the temperature in the grill, open it up and quickly baste the meat with the liquid and then close the lid. The liquid will heat up and steam which will provide flavor and basting provides moisture.
4. This is a bit out of order but remember to always keep the bone side down because it's the insulation so that the meat doesn't burn, even the low heat can scorch it if the meat touches the grill directly.
Step 7: The Sauce
This sauce is very much open to interpretation or if you're a slacker you could even use your favorite store bought but it will never taste as good as homemade.
1. Saute the onions and garlic in some oil/butter/ or if you're on a diet go for the cooking spray over medium high heat
2. After the aromatics are a medium golden brown color reduce the heat to low and dump all the other ingredients into the pot.
3. Stir the mixture until everything is combined and then you can pretty much forget about it. Just keep it over low and stir it once in awhile but there's no need to baby it.
Step 8: Grilling: Part Deux
Ok, so you've been basting the meat, monitoring the temperature, you have an awesome sauce waiting now what's left? Checking for doneness, and the finishing touch that will make your pulled pork better than the restaurant down the street.
1. The meat is done when it can be "pulled" with a fork. Be careful to start checking this after the 4 hour TOTAL mark or two hours after you remove the foil. Fall apart tender meat happens between the two tough stages. Another science/culinary story short is an example, rare/medium rare steak is tender because it hasn't been cooked very much so the protein structure hasn't cooked to the point where it start's wringing out water like a sponge. Pot roast (when done right) is extremely well done. What happens is after the proteins wring out like a sponge they then move on to being cooked to the point where their bonds are broken and the proteins dissolve. This reaction is what causes good pot roast (and our pulled pork) to be fall apart tender and delicious.
2. When the meat can be pulled with a fork, pull it off the grill place it on a plate and crank the grill temperature. For those using gas it's easy for charcoal dump and entire chimney full of charcoal into the fire in one layer.
3. Take the meat inside and baste it with the sauce. Once the meat hits the rocket engine of a grill outside, the sugars in the sauce will form a glaze. Make sure not to use all the sauce. We want a thin layer so it doesnt make a mess out of the grill or become overcarmalized aka burnt.
4. After sauced move the meat back outside and place it on the grill. DO NOT WALK AWAY! This process happens fast, no more than 5-7 minutes total. Move the meat onto all the sides so the sauce forms a glaze roughly 2 minutes per side. There will be some burning but there's shouldn't be too much, common sense please.
5. After it's glazed pull the meat off and take it inside.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
1. When the meat is inside tent it with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes
2. After 10 minutes remove the foil and using two forks, dig into the meat and pull it in opposite directions creating shreds of pork.
3. After all the pork is shredded you can either put it all in a bowl, douse it in sauce and serve or you can put the meat on a plate, the sauce in a bowl and let people sauce themselves.
4. Serving Suggestion: I love my pulled pork to be served on a toasted bun with the sauce drizzled over the meat and topped with cole slaw.
Thanks for reading this instructable, please vote for it and I hope you have as much fun making it as I do.