Monday, 2 January 2012

019 - Boneless Pulled Pork

Ever since I set up my 100ThingsToBBQ twitter account and started to follow other BBQ enthusiasts, it became clear that there are a few classic cuts that are favoured througout the BBQ community. Ribs, brisket and the subject for this post... pulled pork!

The basic concept behind pulled pork, is to slow roast and smoke a shoulder of pork until it is so tender and juicy it can literally be "pulled" or torn apart. And when I say slow, I mean really slooow! A bigger, bone-in shoulder could be cooking for over 8-10 hours. So in most cases, if you don't want to be eating very late - you'll need to get up quite early in the morning to light your BBQ. I however, was only cooking for 5 people so bought a 2 kilo shoulder which only took around 4 hours to cook.

A big thanks goes to Matt_MMc for giving me lots of advice for this cook. I also referenced Weber's Pulled Pork recipe for help on cooking a smaller joint.

I prepped the joint by removing the skin and most of the fat. Pork shoulders have quite a lot of fat running through them, so should keep moist throughout the cooking process without leaving a top layer of fat. Then, on the advice of Matt_MMc I soaked it in apple juice in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, after removing the shoulder from the apple juice and patting it down with kitchen paper, I applied a fairly generous coating of Bad Byron's Butt Rub and left it at room temperature while I got the BBQ up to temperature.

As I was going to be cooking for 4 hours, I used a full chimney of briquettes, and piled them against one side of the BBQ. Stacking the charcoal in a pile against the BBQ wall rather than spreading it out in an even layer helps to slow down the burn by limiting the oxygen flow, and lengthen burn times. 

I was aiming for grill temps of 100 to 120 degrees C. Of course, a full chimney of charcoal can produce much higher temps than this, so to counter this I closed the air vent in the lid virtually all the way (I left the lower air vents all fully open). This further controlled the air flow, lowering temps and lengthening burn time. In fact, after 4 hours, the Weber briquettes that I was using were still achieving a grill temperature of just over 100 degrees C.

I added a handful of soaked wood chips to the coals every 15 minutes for the first hour, but then left the lid closed as much as possible to avoid losing heat. I positioned the lid's air vent on the opposite side to the charcoal, so that the smoke was drawn over the meat. I'm not sure if this next step was necessary. but I turned the meat around after 2 hours to cook the meat evenly.

After 4 hours, I checked the temperature of the pork using a probe thermometer and it was around 80 degrees C. Some recipes call for meat temps of 85 degrees, but anything above 75 is good. I wrapped the shoulder up in foil, and let it rest for half an hour to let the meat juices redistribute throughout the whole joint. 

Then, I pulled the pork apart using 2 forks and served on a platter with some large white rolls and some warmed Bone Suckin' sauce on the side. I'm not sure if you quite see it in the photo above, but the first hour of smoking left a lovely pink layer giving the meat a lovely smokey taste - yum! The pork really was very very juicy - it didn't quite fall apart but was quite easy to shred up with the forks. I intend to try a larger bone-in joint before I complete the 100 list, and the longer cooking times should mean even juicier meat.

Overall, not only did I enjoy eating this, but I really enjoyed cooking it as well. The act of controlling the charcoal, and maintaining the cooking temps over the 4 hours gives a real sense of accomplishment. I saved a chunk of the shoulder and stored it in the fridge to eat the next day. I sliced it cold this time, so the smoke and bark layers were even more visible and possibly made it even tastier :-)


  1. Nice one! That looks delicious. Love your blogging.