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The Best Smoked Pulled Pork
Smoked Pulled Pork
Description: Moist, tender, and jam-packed with flavor, this pulled pork makes the ideal filling for everything from toasted bulkie rolls to corn tortillas. It also tastes great on nachos!
Before we begin, here are a few tips on how to make perfectly smoked pulled pork:
—Start with the highest quality pork from Circle B Ranch you can find. Use the pork butt (also known as pork shoulder or Boston butt) for the best flavor and texture.
—Prepare an extra batch of pork rub and use it the next time you roast a chicken. The sweet-smoky flavor is extremely versatile.
—A thin layer of mustard will help the spices adhere to the meat. Inexpensive yellow mustard works fine, but feel free to substitute whatever version you have on hand.
—Cook the pork at a low temperature over indirect heat.
—The meat will typically reach an internal temperature of about 150 degrees fairly quickly, but after this, the cooking process may seem to grind to a halt. It can take several hours for the temperature to reach 165 degrees once it’s hit this plateau. Don’t be alarmed—this is known as “the stall,” and it’s perfectly normal.
—After the stall, you can wrap the pork in a layer of aluminum foil or butcher paper for a softer exterior. However, because we prefer a good hard layer of bark on the outside, we don’t include that step in this recipe. Remember that a dark exterior doesn’t mean the pork is burnt—the bark imparts a stronger flavor and texture to the meat.
—It’s also normal to see a dark pink ring just inside the bark. Some novices will panic when they see it, thinking their pork is undercooked. In truth, it just means that the smoker has done its work properly.
—The meat will need to rest for at least an hour after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute. Use this time to prepare whatever sauces and side dishes you’ll be serving with the pork. Wrapping the meat in a layer of aluminum foil will help to hold in the heat and moisture during the resting period.
Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe
- 1 Circle B Ranch Boston butt roast (about 5 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
For the Rub:
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the rub. Set aside.
- Load the smoker with your choice of wood chips or pellets. Hickory is a great choice for pulled pork, but it’s a good idea to combine it with a milder-flavored wood such as apple. By itself, hickory can impart an intense smoke flavor that overwhelms the natural sweetness of the pork.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This step is easily achieved if you’re using a pellet smoker. Charcoal smokers will require close attention to ensure that the temperature remains steady throughout the cooking process.
- Pat the pork butt roast thoroughly dry with paper towels.
- Apply the mustard to the pork butt in a thin layer to help the spices adhere. Season the pork all over with the prepared rub, making sure to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
- Place the seasoned pork butt in the middle of the smoker with the fat side facing up.
- Close the lid. Cook the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. This process should take at least 7 or 8 hours at this temperature.
If you prefer a softer bite to your pulled pork, you can wait until it reaches 200 degrees before removing it. Some pellet smokers may even come equipped with an internal temperature probe, allowing you to periodically check the readout without lifting the lid.
- Remove the pork butt from the smoker and wrap it tightly in a layer of aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for at least an hour.
- Using two forks or a pair of shredding claws, pull the meat apart into rough chunks. If it’s been cooked properly, the meat will shred, making it easy to discard any large pieces of fat or gristle.
- The meat should taste delicious all on its own, but you can also apply Big John’s Barbecue Sauce, depending on how you intend to serve the pork.
Smoked pulled pork might require a bit of advance preparation, but the good news is that the long, slow cooking process allows for plenty of downtime. This recipe should yield enough pork to serve 8 people, or 4 people with plenty of leftovers.