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In Need of Pulled Pork Basics

So, hubbie and are are getting ready to check out of the grocery this morning, and suddenly it occurs to me that I've always wanted to try making pulled pork. It's one of both of our favorites things.

So, we head back over to the butcher counter and ask him what cut I should get, and I buy a small 2-1/2 pound piece of said cut. Small, because we're only 2 people and there's no reason to have too much of this and it's an experiment anyway.

I've been looking through Epicurious and Food TV recipes, and through my myriad of cook books and magazines at home and there are so many ways of preparing this that I'm starting to get a bit woozy from it all.

I just need to wittle it down to a very basic, simple method. I can either use my gas Weber grill or of course, my oven. I don't have a smoker, but could buy the necessary accessory for the gas grill (I assume there is one). Or, I know there are ways to do this without even using a smoker. I'm not trying to be a purist about this, so the smoker isn't a total necessity for me.

Any easy ways to do this? I would prefer to use the grill over the oven if possible.



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  1. Laurie...I'm going to post a link to a recipe from a different food board at FinerKitchens ... other "regulars" on this board swear by this recipe for Gretchen's pulled pork and she offers 2 ways of preparing it, with a smoker or in the oven. It really is excellent. I'm sure you'll get tons of other recipes here too.


    1. 1. You want a pork shoulder, preferably the pork butt. If you have time, brine it for 12 hours (soak it in a gallon of water that has a cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar disolved in it. You can add other spices to the brine, if you want, such as crushed black pepper, crushed bay leave, some orange juice, etc.)

      2. Rub a spice mixture around the pork and let it rest for 1-12 hours, depending on how much time you have. If you use the brine, the spice mixture shouldn't contain salt. If you don't brine, add salt. The spice mixture can be whatever you like best, and there are many good premade mixes for pulled pork. I like a rub with some heat (pepper, cayanne) and some other flavors (garlic powder, paprika, etc). Search on line and you'll find many good mixes.

      3. Ideally you want to cook the pork low and slow, say an hour and a half per pound of meat, at around 200 to 250 degrees. You can cut the cooking process by starting it on the grill for the smoke flavor and then finishing it on the stove in a braising dish or wrapped in foil in a 325 oven (the latter is the Cooks Illustrated method).

      4. It best if you can get some smoke flavor into dish. Preheat your grill on high heat. Get some hickory (or whatever flavor you want) wood chips. Soak then in water for about a half hour. Drain and wrap in tin foil. When the grill is hot, put the foil pouch above the heat. Soon the wood will start smoking and releasing the flvorful smoke. Now, get ready to put the meat on. You want the heat on your grill to be on one side of the grill, while the meat is above the other side (so the heat is not directly below the meat). Try to keep the heat under 250 if you can.

      5. When it is done cooking, let it rest for 30 minutes before pulling.

      1. Yep, I got pork butt!

        Both sound very easy, thanks so much! I was hoping to cook it for dinner tonight, but I think now after reading both of your posts it will have to be tomorrow due to time constraints. Just gives me a reason to cook the whole chicken I bought on my Weber Beer Can Chicken thing-a-ma-jig instead, which I haven't gotten around to yet :-)

        Thanks a million!


        1. I am SO not into liquid smoke, but Will Owen's Kalua Roasted Pork made me a convert--was *perfect* for my pulled pork sandwiches. (PHOTOS below)

          Photo of Whole Pork Butt
          Photo of Pork (close-up

          1. There was also a pretty good recipe where you do it in a slow oven from David Lieberman's show on the Food Network. I'm sure if you go to Foodtv.com you can look it up.

            1. Dave Lieberman's oven method sounds very easy. Actually I think starting off at 500 with the meat uncovered will work well for me, because the rub I started with has a lot of brown sugar in it and I want it to start carmelizing and getting browned and kind of hard, as we both enjoy that kind of flavor and texture mixed in with the meat. I did the rub myself, a mixture of the brown sugar, garlic powder, black peppper, sea salt, cayenne pepper and paprika. I rubbed it in well, wrapped it up in plastic wrap (this was before reading any of the above) and it's been in the fridge since 8am this morning.

              So, I'm going to use Dave's method, then wrap it in foil for the remainder but I do not think I'll use the beer as a marinade - I'm not a fan of that flavor. I was reading Tyler Florence's recipe too from Food TV, I liked that one as well. I have all the ingredients at home to play it by ear later on anyway as far as how I'll handle it once it's out of the oven but I'm leaning towards Tyler's at the moment.

              Cole slaw is mandatory ON the sandwich, which I'll be making from scratch, but just your typical Hellman's recipe - I like mine basic. Even tho I'm from the northeast, where most people don't put it in the sandwich, I lived in Florida for a few years, and everyone down there did it that way, so that's the only way I ever ate it.

              Probably making some kind of 'tator too, got some gorgeous white fingerlings from our local greenmarket yesterday, most likely just a simple herb-roast from the fresh herbs I grow at home.

              Thanks everyone! You helped make this much easier for me to get going, and it's much easier than I thought it would be.


              1. Update!

                Wow! Pulled pork at home is easy and good!

                I did a combination between Dave and Tyler's recipes. Used Dave's cooking method but Tyler's sauce. Let me tell you, Tyler's sauce is quite the authentic spicy Carolina vinegar BBQ mop type sauce - really seriously tangy, so much so, it assulted my nose as I went to take a taste the first time, but in a good way LOL. I'd post the link but Food TV is infuriating to use today - slow as can be and not loading up properly. Basically a mixture of cider vinegar, ketchup, yellow mustard, brown sugar, smashed garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and the pan drippings.

                How I managed not to eat up all the good crisp blackened skin bits before serving it for dinner is beyond me (ok, I pretty much did, my husband doesn't know - don't tell!).

                I can't wait to do this again for a large crowd - it's going to be a huge hit I'm sure.


                1. I always post this info, probably to the consternation of the powers that be but this is really good. You may need to cut the cayenne in half or so for the sauce as it is hot. My wife and friends from the south love it. Temp of the meat must be in the 190-200 degree range to pull easily. It's only missing the smokey taste for which smoked Spanish paprika might well be good.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Tom Hall

                    This is just my opinion and no better than anyone else's, but I would as soon put catsup in my coffee as on my pork barbecue. My sauce for pork barbecue is just vinegar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper.


                    1. re: Jim Washburn

                      Yes, indeedy. Apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, a spoon of brown sugar, salt, black pepper...mop the pork with this mixture about every 45 minutes or so. This mop, combined with the long cook/low temp over indirect heat, will give you the crusty, blackened char that makes pulled pork so damn good.

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                        OK JW and HC, this is a cooking sauce. But when it comes time to make a sangwich, are you putting anything on the pork?

                        1. re: yayadave

                          It's not a cooking sauce in my case. I season the meat with salt and nothing else until it's cooked. Then I chop it, sauce it, and eat it.


                          1. re: yayadave

                            Well, now you folks have me thinking of this as a braising liquid and a table sauce.

                        2. re: Jim Washburn

                          It's in the sauce to put on the pork after it's cooked and did NOT taste too catsupy to me... but to each his own as you said. My friends and I all love it.

                          1. re: Jim Washburn

                            Jim, I hear ya and let me tell you that I'm no ketchup lover by any. I don't even use it on my french fries.

                            However I have to let you know the sauce I made, you couldn't tell at all there was any ketchup in it - the vinegar took complete precedence as a flavor. If the sauce were a perfume, the vinegar was the top note all the way.


                          2. re: Tom Hall

                            Tom, temp of my meat was exactly 190 degrees when it came out of the oven - it totally fell apart as soon as the forks hit it. And actually, I think there there was some paprika in the mixture for the sauce now that I think of it.

                            I didn't miss it being cooked in a smoker at all although my husband and I are considering buying a small one, since we have the room for it in our yard.

                            I would cut the cayenne amount next time or add a bit more brown sugar - the sauce was just a bit too hot for our tastes, but thankfully not so much as to ruin the enjoyment of it. We both prefer it a bit on the sweeter side so I think your suggestions makes sense.


                          3. Glad the Dave Lieberman recipe worked for you too, Laurie. I too found it easy and really delicious, but I may try it with Tyler's sauce recipe next time too.
                            Thanks for the tip.

                            1. Laurie...You did good by going with Tyler's recipe. I've used it a couple of times and loved it, but pork butt as opposed to the shoulder is essential. Since you liked Dave's as well, I may have to try Dave's with Tyler's sauce and slaw. My dad is from Georgia and his family still lives down there. I grew up eating pulled pork and Tyler's recipe tastes pretty close to what I always remember.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kwe730

                                Glad I had the butcher recommend the butt! It sure did turn out tender!