Normally when you think of smoked pulled pork you think of a typical sweet with some heat. A North Carolina style pulled pork.
Today I’m trying something a little different. I’m going with a central Texas, pepper based rub for the best smoked pork but I’ve ever had!
After doing some research on how to smoke my pork shoulder (or Boston butt), I read through Aaron Franklin’s Meat Smoking Manifesto.
I highly recommend picking up this book if you’re into making your own barbecue. I found that he seasons pulled pork a little different.
A central Texas style rub starts with 1 part salt, 1 part pepper. I decided to take some inspiration from the man who has barbecue nailed down and take my own take on it!
I added a little bit extra spices like cayenne, paprika, and a hint of sugar jut to make it my own.
Want to know the best part? You can grab my exact rub over on my shop, just look for the red Savory Pork Booty BBQ Rub label!
Smoking a pork shoulder is hard to mess up. The fat content is so high that you don’t need to worry too much about drying it out. It’s near impossible to over cooked since you’re serving it pulled or shredded.
Trimming a pork butt is optional, but I like to trim down the fat cap as much as possible. This gets more of your rub on the meat rather than the fat.
Like I said earlier, with the high fat content throughout a pork butt/shoulder, drying it out is near impossible.
The one thing you’ll need to focus on is timing. Smoking a pork shoulder takes about one and a half hours per pound of meat. Plus at least 30 minutes of rest time.
Then, I like to shoot for getting my pull pork done an hour before serving. And if it’s done early, you can always keep it wrapped in foil and placed in a cooler. It will hold its temperature for a few hours.
As far as a binder goes, this is optional, but I recommend it. Using yellow mustard, olive oil, mayo (I’ve seen Worcestershire too on briskets) works to help get a good coating of rub to your smoked meat.
One thing not to get too caught up what you’re using as a binder. Its not doing much for flavor.
It’s just a way to get your rub to stick to help develop a good bark.
On topic of bark – who here is on the wrap in foil team? II
I’ve seen a lot of conversation on both sides of the table. Some say wrapping will give you mushy bark, others will say not wrapping, makes it too crunchy and smoky.
And, I’ve done it a few ways. I’ve wrapped in butcher paper, tried tin foil. I even tried pulled pork placed it in a tin pan covered to give it a braise half way into the cook.
Ugh.. I sound like Sam I Am..
Don’t want to over think it? Go the whole cook unwrapped and try spritzing/mopping.
Each way gives a different result, and each is just as delicious!
But the key to a good result on any bbq is resting. Your meat has been contracting for a long time in that smokey heat. Give it some time to relax. I’ve noticed anytime i’ve rushed pulling i have a hard time getting it to pull well.
When I allow it to rest for at least 45-60 minutes it pulls without hesitation every time.
Hot and fast? Wood chips on a grill? Pellet or wood smoker? What to choose?!
Here’s a simple truth – like cameras, the best pit to smoke on is the one you have.
Have a few grills? I put it in this order: stick burner > water smoker (weber smokey mountain > charcoal pit > pellet smoker > grill with wood chips.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no hate for a pellet smoker. it’s convenient and hard to mess anything up. I’ll cook my pork butt at around 235(ish) for about 4-5 hours on my Traeger Pro Series 34 smoker. This gets a solid outcome every time.
But recently I’ve been smoking on a weber smokey mountain. The flavor is much closer to something you’d expect from authentic barbecue.
I’ll throw in a blend of hickory, apple wood and a chunk of pecan or cherry just to be fancy. But, apple wood and hickory is tried and true when it comes to smoking pork.
who knows maybe one day I’ll get a wood burner and achieve peak pitmaster euphoria..
So, regardless of your method of cooking, you’ll want to spritz with a Apple Cider Vinegar/apple juice concoction. I love doing this not so much for moisture, but to add a little flavor to the bark. A+++++++ would recommend!
And after about 4 hours, the bark should be set. You can tell by running your finger against the bark and it will not come off. If you’re fixing to wrap now is the time.
If you’re a thermometer junkie the internal temperature will be around 160 (AKA the stall). The pork butt will take on as much smoke as it can and is time to wrap.
If you choose to go bare for the entire cook be sure to continue spritzing your pork shoulder along the way
At this point, you can even raise your temperature a little higher to expedite the process. I continued cooking at 275 and had everything done at the 8-9 hour mark for a 7 pound pork butt.
But, ultimately you’re cooking your pork but for as long as it needs for it to be done. You’ll looking for an internal temperately ranging anywhere from 195-210.
It will probe like warm butter. The payoff that any backyard pitmaster will want to see is that blade bone to easily pulling out from the pork butt.
And I’ve found so far 203-205 is the sweet spot for this.
If you’re going with my rub, you’ll have a nice dark bark, similar to a texas style smoked brisket. This rub has a good pepper flavor, with a hint of sweetness and all sorts of juice from the pork.
Stay tuned for some more low and slow barbecue recipes this summer!