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Jul 29, 2011 01:40 PM

What is a proper Pulled Pork Sandwich?

I'm not sure I've ever had one. A proper one that is. I had one yesterday that was terrible. Dry pork (pretty sure it was boston butt) with no real spice or smoke flavor on a very wimpy bun. If not for the sauce it would have had no taste at all. As I was talking to a friend about it I realized I didn't really know what a proper or traditional Pulled Pork sandwhich should be. What part of the pig is used? What are the spices. How is it cooked? What kind of bun? I realize there are probably 50 ways to make one, but there must be one that is considered the Mother recipe.



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    1. re: ferret

      Thanks that was a good start. What kinds of spices are used?


    2. I'm a member of the on line community, an incredible group of bbq competitors and enthusiasts. There, the overwhelming consensus is that pulled pork is almost always pork butt and occasionally shoulder. The meat is liberally coated with a rub for flavor and bark, and cooked on low or medium heat until a skewer inserted goes in like buttah. It might be injected with apple cider and seasoning though usually not. The meat is frequently smoked in an open foil pan which may be covered late in the cook. The collected juices may be defatted and mixed with cider vinegar, red pepper flakes and other seasonings before being added into the pulled meat. To sauce or not beyond that is up to personal taste, though if it's prepared well there is no need for sauce in my opinion. I like it served any number of ways.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cameraman

        isn't pork butt and shoulder the same cut?

        1. re: thew

          Not technically.

          A more fuller explanation:

          "What is commonly sold as a "pork butt" or "Boston butt" are the same cut of meat--the top portion of what is considered the "whole shoulder" of the hog. This cut is very marbled and often sold skinless, with a large portion of fat on top. The "butt" can be sold boneless or bone-in, and weighs on average between 6 lbs. and 9 lbs. bone-in, or between 4 lbs. and 7 lbs. boneless. In comparison, the "shoulder roast" or "pork picnic" is the lower portion of the shoulder below the joint and above the shank (leg). It is smaller than the "pork butt" and also contains more fat, bone and connective tissue. It is often sold complete with skin and is rarely sold boneless. These smaller roasts usually weigh between 4 to 5 lbs."

          Read more: The Difference Between Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt |

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Interestingly, in my neck of the woods, I can only regularly find whole shoulders, with skin, weighing between 9-13 lbs. I just learned how to properly make cracklings from the skin, so no loss.

      2. I'm guessing you don't live in the southern US, because BBQ joints are on every corner here. I have rarely had a bad one.
        You really need a big ol' smoker and hours and hours to make Proper Pulled Pork.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jmcarthur8

          Before I got my Weber Smokey Mountain I smoked a slew of butts offset in my Weber kettle. It takes a little work to keep the fire regulated but it's a great introduction to fire and smoke.

        2. Most important is that it be topped with coleslaw

          1 Reply
          1. Pulled pork is only as good as the care and effort put into it. I hope this helps because it's an art well worth perfecting. Have fun and make it your own!