I have been fortunate enough to try this recipe and I’ll tell you what…it is no joke!!!
Here is another great recipe from our resident expert, Chef Jeff (check him out on Instagram @hunt_fish_forage_farm).
There isn’t much in the realm of cooking that gets me more excited than smoked pulled pork. In my opinion the entire process is an art form. For the most part everyone will remember good pulled pork, unfortunately, they will never forget the failures.
There are many factors that can make or break a great pulled pork. Too much salt, not enough brown sugar, too much heat and you go from something awesome to something…well to something the opposite of awesome.
I started preparing smoked pulled pork several years ago for my family’s annual Memorial Day BBQ. In the past we would order a whole pig from the local BBQ place, but the flavor just wasn’t what I was looking for and the yield was unfortunately low. As a trained chef I knew that I could come up with something better so I took it upon myself to come up with a way to do it at home.
I use an old wood fired Texas style smoker that takes advantage of the indirect heating method. I don’t have the equipment required to cook a whole hog at my disposal so I have been using a combination of Boston Butt and Picnic Shoulders to create a good mix of fat and meat. So far this combination has worked out very well for me.
There are a couple of important factors that you’ll need to pay some extra attention to in order to ensure your success…
#1 – The Rub is the combination of seasonings that will help flavor the meat and create the “bark”. Just a reminder that everyone’s taste buds vary and are fairly unique. Adjust this combination to suit your particular tastes.
#2 – The Heat is created from your initial fire using dry wood. Allow this wood to burn off and turn into bright orange embers. Your biggest obstacle will be controlling the heat so that you can control the smoke. You want to maintain a temperature somewhere between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your meat receives the most smoke exposure. This is not a “set it and forget it” cooking method…add additional dry wood as needed to maintain the proper temperature. At this point you’ll add your “Smoking Wood” on top of the hot embers.
#3 – The Smoking Wood You will need to have your wood soaked for smoking otherwise it will burn instead of emitting smoke. Place the wood in a water tight container and add water for at least 30 minutes prior to adding it to the coals. I like to use a combination of maple and fruit woods (peach, apple, cherry or pear). I use a combination of big pieces of wood, chunks and shavings. You will want to manage your smoker to keep the smoke engulfing your meat for as long as possible. I try to get at least 6 hrs. of actual smoking.
#4 – The Slopping (Basting) Liquid comes from your pork that’s been previously “rubbed” with the seasoning mixture. The liquid that accumulates in the bottom of the pan should be poured into a container and used to baste the meat every 1 to 2 hours.
Smoke Pulled Pork
One pork butt or shoulder cleaned and dry (roughly 5 to 7 lbs.)
- 1 ½ lbs. dark brown sugar
- ½ cup fennel seeds (or ¼ cup ground fennel)
- ¼ cup coarse ground black pepper
- ½ cup Kosher salt
- ½ cup paprika
- ½ cup ground mustard
- ½ cup chili powder
- ¼ to ½ cup crushed red pepper
- ½ cup ground garlic
- The Process
- Combine all of the spices and mix together until well blended.
- Coat the entire outside of the pork butt with the spice mixture.
- Place the pork butt in a baking / roasting pan and put it in the refrigerator for up to 48 hrs.
- Remove the pork butt from the pan, reserving the accumulated liquid, and place the meat on the preheated smoker.
- Use the reserved liquid to baste the pork butt every 1 -2 hours.
- After 6 hrs. of continuous smoking remove the pork and place it in a baking / roasting pan.
- Add some of the reserved liquid to the bottom of the pan, cover with foil and place in a preheated (250° F) oven for an additional 2 + or – hours. At this point you are just cooking the pork until it begins to fall apart.
- When the meat is thoroughly cooked you should easily be able to use two forks to “pull” the pork into shredded meat.