If you are looking for that perfect pulled pork, look no further. Yes, I’m being cocky, but for good reason. I’m not a professional who has one a ton of awards. I’m someone who can tell when the crowd is throughly impressed with the meat you can pull off the Big Green Egg, or any other smoker. :o)
First of all, be patient. The key is to slow cook it at 225-235° and plan for 18+ hours of smoking. If you have the BGE, you’ll know that means you only have to add more lump hardwood charcoal once after the 12-16 hour range, depending on brand of charcoal and how much you started with.
- Start with the right cut of meat. Check your local butchers and box stores for a Boston shoulder, or the Boston butt. This cut of meat is the top part of the front leg shoulder. Other cuts available are the picnic shoulder, which it the lower half of the front leg that often doesn’t have a bone in it. Some retailers will sell you both cuts in the same package. The picnic will still turn out good pulled pork, but the flavor is slightly more like Ham and takes longer to break down the meat on a slow cook. After you select the meat, prepare it by first doing a quick rinse on the outside and then score the fat side. I do this because fat doesn’t allow the smoke to penetrate into the meat, but you want the fat to add flavor and to protect the bottom side of the meat as the shoulder is cooking.
- Grab the recipe for Rub This! Pork and apply liberally to all sides and rub in 1-2 hours before cooking. Some people like to use mustard on the meat as well so that the rub sticks, but as long as you don’t mop too early, the rub will stay on it.
- Use a quality meat injector. I’ve tried stainless steel ones with the plastic screen to see the liquid, but they leak. Same goes with all plastic injectors. Find one that is pure stainless and looks like it belongs in the doctor’s office from the 1940s-1950s. Grab 4 ounces of flat Coke (make sure the carbonation has run out) and inject it into the meat in at least 4 different places. The acidity in the coke will help break down the connective tissue and add flavor to the meat. Don’t worry, it won’t taste like coke when you are done.
- Set your smoker for 225-235° and use a mixture of Hickory and Apple chunks or Hickory and Cherry chunks blended with the Hardwood Lump Charcoal. If your from the SE, substitute Hickory for Mesquite. 😛 To get a long smoke going on the same batch, you need to put enough charcoal into the Egg to fill at least half of the fire ring. That means the fire box is full but the charcoal is not touching the plate setter (convEGGtor). Sprinkle some brown sugar on top the rub and place it on the grill.
- After 2 hours, mop the shoulder with a mixture of 1:1 apple juice and apple cider vinegar and repeat every hour. Try to minimize the amount of time you open the lid so that your PartyQ, DigiQ or Stoker has time to recover.
- Once the shoulder reaches 165° on the internal temperature, grab some quality butcher paper (not the wax kind) and loosely cover the shoulder. This will allow the internal temp to keep working itself up, while allowing the pork to breathe so the bark doesn’t get soggy in the process. Some pros wrap in foil or use a foil tray with foil on top, but for the cost of butcher paper and the better results, go that route.
- On a shoulder, you are looking for an internal temp of 195°. This can take up to 18 hours, so I always recommend starting the pork the night before if you plan to have it for dinner the next day. Once the temp has been reached, pull the shoulder off the grill and place it in a cooler for 1-2 hours. This will allow the juices to settle back into the meat and let the meat cool off bit before you pull it.
- Next up, pull the pork! Two forks will do just fine, or you can use your fingers. Start with the bone test. Grab that bone and see if it slides out clean. If it did, you cooked it just right.
- Pull the meat and add your favorite sauce like the St. Louis Style BBQ Sauce.
Rub This! Pork Spice Rub
1 6-9 lb Boston Shoulder (Boston Butt)
1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Apple Juice
4-6 Pieces Each of Hickory and Apple Wood Chunks
FDA Approved Butcher Paper
1 Can of Coke, Flat