Monday, June 27, 2011

(Home Smoked) Pulled Pork

This isn't going to be a pic heavy post, as I didn't take a lot. I was pretty busy with keeping my daughter away from the grill and since this took me over 9 hours, it wasn't super exciting to watch. 

I pretty much just did Alton Brown's pulled pork recipe, verbatim. I smoked the meat in my grill, which took some serious attention to maintain the temperature and smoke. For 9 hours. I'm exhausted. But man, it did turn out really good. I'm amazed how well and much the smoke penetrated the meat and the brine made a huge difference in the taste of the meat. It was really quite good.

I've slow roasted pork shoulder in the oven before and got a "faux" pulled pork that tasted very good, but the smoke is a serious part of the dish that I can't believe I've been missing out on at home.

The two parts to this recipe are very simple to assemble. Time is the huge thing in the recipe. The night before you need to start the brine. 

8 ounces or 3/4 cup molasses
12 ounces pickling salt 
2 quarts bottled water (I used filtered water)
6 to 8 pound Boston butt

For a 4 pound butt, I used the following:

5 oz molasses
6 oz table salt
1 quart filtered water
4 pound pork shoulder


My whole process was kind of off from the get go. I started with a nearly 4 pound pork butt and the recipe was for a 6 pounder, so I thought I had to scale things back, so I did the brine out of order. You want to start with the liquid first, not with the pork in the pot. Dur. Regardless, mix everything up and make sure it's submerged in the fridge overnight. 8 hours, good. 12 hours, better.


12 oz of salt is about a cup. I used regular iodized salt as I couldn't find pickling salt and didn't want to waste my Kosher. It dissolved fine. 

I used an inverted steamer basket to make sure it was submerged. 

The next morning, the water was super dark and the pork looked pickled. 

In the morning (as early as you can) get the fire started and get the rub on the pork. 

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika

[EDIT] This is another butt that I did the other day:

You want to grind the cumin, fennel and coriander and add them to the other spices. You don't want to "rub" the rub in as much as you want to "pat" it on. It'll go on pretty easy, just pat the pork dry before you start the rub.


So, the actual smoking part is going to vary from person to person I imagine, so I'll just tell you what I did.

I filled my chimney starter with charcoal and let it get ashy. I then put them on one side of the grill. I have a mandarin tree that I spent the weekend trimming up, so I decided to use that wood to use as my smoke. I cut up a bunch into 2-3 inch bits and soaked them in water that I kept next to the grill station. I checked and added the wood bits and fresh, unlit charcoal every 2 hours or so, so you want that close too.

When you put the pork on, get some foil to put under it for easy clean up. (not pictured but learn from my mistakes)

I used 2 digital thermometers, one in the meat and one in the air vent on top of the grill. 

You're supposed to maintain the temp of 210 degrees. I found this next to impossible. The problem is that when you add the wood, the temp needs to be hot enough to create smoke, yet it can't be over 210. My heat was nearly 300 almost the entire time, but I had good smoke, so whatever. It worked for me.

This was our day.

I kept adjusting the vents to try to get a stable temp, but it was so difficult to get it right. I ended up just making sure there was smoke by the 5th hour or so. 

When the meat finally came up to temp (you wan the meat between 185 and 200) it was right over the 9 hour mark. It had an awesome bark and I was really amazed that it worked so well.

Cover it in foil for 30 minutes after it's done so it can rest. 

I tore into it and was immediately amazed by the penetration of smoke. Just look at that pink!

I made sweet potato fries and some chipotle ranch to go with the (store bought!) coleslaw and BBQ sauce. I just didn't feel like making them from scratch. 

The pork was really great and even though it was a lot of work, it was worth it.


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