Introduction: (Secrets to Perfect) BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
I will admit, this is not the most low key recipe. It takes some prep, and it takes some time...but the end result is so ridiculously worth it, I simply cannot put it into words. Low and slow is the key to a mindblowing pulled pork recipe. I am talking temperatures of 200-230°F/93-110°C, for several hours.
I have entered this recipe into several local BBQ contests, and not to toot my own horn or anything, it placed pretty well among professional BBQers. I would now like to point out the key difference between "BBQing" vs. "grilling": BBQing is slow roasting meat over a low temperature heat source, sometimes with hardwood smoke. Grilling uses high heat and will burn a dry rub to a blackened mess.
It is fantastic with veggie slaw!
You will need a few BBQ Basics for this:
A gas grill with at least two burners. A kettle type charcoal grill will work great too - my favorite being the Weber Kettle Grill.
Hardwood chips (Use only hardwood for any grill)
Smoker box/pouch thingie-Some gas grills come with a smoker box for the wood chips. Mine does not. If yours doesn't, you make an envelope/pouch from heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pull out about 18" for the envelope. Put about 4 cups of pre-soaked (in cold water for about an hour) chips on the foil, and fold it into a flat envelope/pouch type shape.Poke several slices in the top (to release the smoke).
Tongs/Spatula - You need a darn good heavy duty pair of tongs to handle a pork shoulder. A spatula (preferably a strong grill specific type) is perfect for getting that lovely chunk of meat off of the grill.
Aluminum roasting pan (disposable, for ease of clean-up) It will keep the juices from causing flare-ups and will provide moisture to the roast.
Oven/Grill thermometer - This is very important, as this tool is the only way you will really know what's going on inside the grill! To "pull" pork, the meat must reach the ideal temperature of 212°F/100°C.
Chimney-type charcoal starter - For the charcoal grill people, this is the best way to start the coals.
Do not be overwhelmed. All of these are pretty standard for grilling or BBQing. If you plan on doing more outdoor eating this summer, I guarantee that you will use it again. If you don't like the idea of buying wood chips, leave that part out. The rub and slow roasting will do a dandy job of making your meat moist and delicious.
Step 1: Meet Your Meat (and Prep It!)
Pulled pork is made with the pork shoulder,however it is usually packaged in the supermarkets as two cuts: A shoulder butt (Boston butt) and a picnic butt (picnic roast).Either one is great for this recipe.Bone-in or boneless is your choice... I like the bone-in for flavor,but the boneless does cook faster.
Prep your Meat:
1. Trim the skin and excess fat (leave about a 1/4" layer) off the roast. Rinse the roast and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Spices! My recipe calls for a rub. Do you want a rub with simply a couple of spices, or a grand mixture of complimentary flavors? Wet or dry rub? I prefer a dry rub, it makes less mess. Pick a good rub from the store, make your own, or try my Finger Lickin' Good Dry Rub on your roast. I promise it will not disappoint! :)
3. Apply the rub liberally all over the meat, working it in thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until an hour or so before cooking. It is best to allow the meat to come closer to room temperature before putting it on the grill. Why waste the gas? :)
Note: I like to apply the rub the day before grill time for the most flavor, but try to do it at least 2 hours ahead.
Step 2: Fire It Up!
For the gas grill peeps:
1. Fire-up all the burners and get the temperature to hold at 210-225°F/99-107°C. Use a good Oven/Grill thermometer,placed on the cooler (where the meat goes) side of the grill,to make sure the temperature is accurate.When the temperature is reached, shut down all but one burner.
Note: lid thermometerS will give you a higher than is accurate temperature reading.
2. Place the smoker pouch over the hot burner, close the grill and let the smoke start to do its thing.
For the charcoal grill people:
1. Fire-up the charcoal...I like the chimney charcoal starter because it's the quickest and easiest way to start. For this recipe, you'll need to replenish the coals occasionally to maintain the ideal temp. Use your oven thermometer,placed near the meat,to keep track of the temperature.
NOTE: Please, if you use a charcoal lighter fluid, let the coals to burn to a grey ash coating. NEVER use self starting charcoal. It can impart chemicals onto your food. And that is icky.
Start with about 45-50 briquettes and let them get to a nice even white/gray color. Move the coals to one side of the grill and open the bottom and top vent all the way.
2. Put the smoker box/pouch over the coals. Close the grill and let the smoke get started being all smokey.
Step 3: Cook That Bad Boy!
Come on, let's cook 'that sucka!
NOTE: Always use tongs! Never use that forked, sharp, pokey-stabby that comes with all backyard barbecue tool sets. It is for carving the meat only! You will pierce the meat, and let the delicious juices run out.
When the grill temperature has reached 250-275°F/121-135°C...
1. Place the roast in the pan,fat side up. Place it on the grill, cooler side of the grill. Keep the temperature at 210-225°F/99-107°C. Close the lid, with the vent opposite the roast (to pull the heat and smoke towards the meat), and...
NO peeking! You're losing precious heat and smoke. Open the lid only long and far enough to do the charcoal replenish thing or check the meat when I tell you to, not a moment sooner. Prove your Mama wrong, and have some patience! ;)
2. With the tongs, check the meat for the first time in about an hour. Make sure the temperature is holding steady. For a charcoal grill, add hot(gray) coals. Add fresh coals (approx.8-12 per hour) as needed.
3. Rotate the meat (quickly)about every 30-40 minutes, to cook evenly.
4.You have time! Whip up a batch of delicious Veggie slaw!
5. Check the roast at the thickest part, not touching a bone. You want the thermometer to read 190°F/88°C. Pull it off of the grill and rest the meat for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to move back to the center and let the roast finish cooking 'passively'.
Step 4: Pull It & Eat It!
You can now "pull" the meat! I just use a couple of forks (it's hot hot hot!) in a shallow roast pan. Top with your favorite BBQ sauce, or try my Lip Smackin' BBQ Sauce!
Serve it on buns or, heck, in a bowl by itself! I love it on a kaiser roll with veggie slaw...This makes a great Father's Day meal!