This guide by Dave on how to use a smoker to make pulled pork is truly a treasure for us to be able to share at Lovefoodies.
Dave has been a supporter or Lovefoodies for as long as I can remember, and we have been fortunate to be able to benefit from Dave’s advice regarding smoking and grilling meats whenever we have queries.
So I’m very proud to be able to have Dave’s guide right here to share with you all.
Thank you so much Dave, for your expertise and guidance. You’re ‘smokin’ ‘!
Guide by Dave Weigel
I have been asked to post my way of cooking pork butt for pulled pork. This is my way and not the only way, it may even not be the best way as it is endless as to how peoples tastes can be different.
Quality of ingredients is step 1, fresh pork-butt over frozen when possible and let the meat come to room temperature before putting on the smoker, bone in butt is common ( yeah, it sounds funny but thats what it’s called) to use but one with the bone removed is fine too.
If you do not have a smoker and think you cannot attain a good smoke flavour with a gas grill your wrong, it may not be authentic but it will be good none the less and here is how. (see video below)
Foil pans or foil pouches work great.
Injection: You can get a meat injector (think Jumbo medical needle) and inject the pork butt with a marinade of your choice either pre-made or homemade experiment and find what you like, even a basic injection of fruit juice will add flavour ( apple juice, orange or any citrus). Injection is not necessary but adds to your flavour profile you are putting into the pulled pork.
Dry Rub: A dry rub is a seasoning mix that will add flavour mostly to the outside of the meat but can if left to marinade in the refrigerator for a day work its way into the meat a bit. There are many premade or recipes available on the internet and your choices are endless and fun to experiment with, I make my own as that way I control the salt and other ingredients to get the flavour I want.
At this point you can just sprinkle it on and rub it into the meat or as I do add a flavour glue to help bind it to the meat. I use a mix of mustard and honey as well as some other ingredients as my flavour glue.
Moisture Control: I add moisture to the meat as it cooks by way of spraying it at intervals through the cook with a thinned down version of my flavour glue or just use a fruit juice. A clean new spray bottle works well but as you can see in one of my photos that a modified pop bottle and lid with small holes works as well. Remember though every time you open the lid adds to the time it takes to cook. If your using a gas grill a foil pan with apple or other fruit juice over the direct heat burner will provide moisture as it evaporates.
Temperature: Smoking is best done at lower temperature anywhere from about 180-275F. I prefer 200-250f range and it will take from 10-18 hours to fully cook a pork butt. On a smoker this isn’t an issue but on a Gas grill it can be so I would recommend smoking on the grill for about 4-5 hours and finish in the oven at 225 in a foil pan add fruit juice and foil if you wish to help steam and flavour the pork butt as it cooks (steaming will soften the bark and may not be desirable for you it is a choice).
When the meat is tender take off the foil and bring the temp up a bit to 325 to create a firmer bark on the roast .
What about cooking at 350 like an oven roast? Don’t and here is why as the cooking temperature increases there is a change in how it affects the meat The higher the cooking temperature the tighter the meat fibres become toughening the meat. At about 150f-160f if your using a digital thermometer you will notice that the temperature stalls for a bit and doesn’t seem to go up this is common and don’t worry about it. Be patient and the rewards will be great. You want to give the meat time to get the connective tissues and the collagen in the meat to dissolve and flow through the meat internal temperature will be around 170f . Low and Slow wins the race with BBQ. At about 190f. It should be done and if it is a bone in butt the bone should pull out easily and cleanly.
Sauce: homemade or pre-made? You chose remember you are making this for you for your likes if anyone has an issue with premade don’t invite them… I prefer serving my pulled pork dry after pulling it and let the sauce be added at the table. Top with coleslaw and maybe some thin sliced onions and you have heaven!