Tender and Juicy Smoked Pulled Pork
Tender and succulent smoked pulled pork that falls off the bone. Select the right cut of meat, add some smoke and cook it low and slow.
Great smoked pulled pork is one of those go to dishes that comes to mind when you think of great barbecue. Simply seasoned and smoked to perfection, pulled pork is a crowd pleaser. Read on to learn how to pick a roast, how to season it, how to smoke it, and how to make it tender and juicy.
Selecting a Roast
The best cut of meat to use for making pulled pork is pork shoulder, also know as a Boston butt. These are commonly found at your local market either boneless or bone-in. When picking a roast, look for one with the bone-in. The bone adds a ton of flavor, helps with the cooking process, and is easy to remove when the roast is done. A 6 to 8 pound roast is great for making smoked pulled pork.
Preparing the Pork Butt
Some roasts will have a thick fat cap on one side. Thick and/or hard pieces of fat do not render out during the cooking process. For that reason, it's best to trim them down to about a quarter of an inch thick. Next, score the remaining fat with a long knife in a crisscross pattern about 1 inch apart and just deep enough to penetrate the meat.
Rub the entire roast with a light coat of olive oil and then liberally sprinkle dry rub over the entire roast. Lightly press the dry rub into place with your hands. Hint: use a pair of gloves to prevent the paprika from staining your hands.
Setting Up the Smoker
Set up your smoker for indirect cooking at 250°F. If you are using a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe style ceramic cooker, use good quality lump charcoal that will provide a long slow burn. Add 4 to 5 chunks of apple or cherry wood for a great smoky flavor.
If you are using an offset smoker, use kiln dried oak with a couple of chunks of apple or cherry to provide additional smoke flavor. The reason for this is that an offset smoker burns wood as its primary fuel whereas a ceramic cooker uses charcoal as its primary fuel. Using apple or cherry wood as the primary fuel in an offset smoker for the entire cook time tends to overpower the roast. Kiln dried oak with a bit of fruit wood added to it, seems to solve this problem.
Place the roast in the smoker. If you are using a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe ceramic cooker, place the roast with the fat side up. Both of these cookers will use a deflection plate for indirect cooking. This will cause the heat to rise up and circulate throughout the dome of the cooker. If, however, you're using an offset smoker then place the roast in the smoker fat side down. The reason is that in an offset smoker, the heat is coming from the bottom. Having the fat facing down will help protect the meat from the heat.
Place a shallow pan beneath the cooking grate and add 1 - 2 quarts of water. This will help keep the roast moist
Smoking the Pork Shoulder
Place a temperature probe in the center of the roast and smoke it low and slow at 250° for about three hours until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Spray the roast with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water every 30 minutes or so to keep it moist. This additional moisture on the surface will actually enhance the smoke ring and that is a good thing.
Remove the roast and wrap it tightly in heavy duty foil. Return the roast to the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 195° F. Wrapping the roast will help it break through the stall. The stall is when the internal temperature stabilizes and stops climbing. This typically happens around around 165°F. The pork shoulder will stay at this temperature until collagen breaks down at which time the internal temperature will start climbing again. Wrapping the roast in foil helps move this process along more quickly. Wrapping the roast is also known as the Texas crutch. While wrapped, the pork shoulder will actually braise in its own juices making it tender and juicy.
Remove the roast, wrap it in an old towel and place it in a cooler to rest for about 30 minutes. This is necessary to prevent dry pulled pork. Open it too soon, and all the juice will flow out of the meat. Wait 30 minutes, and that juice will reabsorb creating a much better final product. Carefully open the foil (there will be a LOT of juice) and shred the pork with a fork.
Favorite Side Dishes
Some of our favorite side dishes to serve with the smoked pulled pork are:
- Corn Ribs
- Texas Style Creamed Corn with Poblano Peppers
- Creamed Corn Without Cream
- Barbecue Baked Beans
- Kosher Dill Pickles
- Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Easy Pork Recipes
Smoked Pulled Pork - How to Smoke a Pork Shoulder for Fantastic Pulled Pork
- 7 lb bone-in Boston butt pork shoulder
- 2 tbs kosher salt
- 1 tbs black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ cup paprika not smoked
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Make the dry rub by combining the salt, black pepper and paprika. Stir well. Rub olive oil over the entire roast then sprinkle the roast with the dry rub. Apply liberally and make sure to cover the sides as well.
- Setup the smoker for indirect heat at 250° F. Add 4 - 5 chunks of apple or cherry wood to the coals. Place a shallow pan beneath the cooking grate and add 1 - quarts of water.
- Place the roast in the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Remove the roast and wrap tightly in heavy duty foil. Return the roast to the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 195° F.
- Remove the roast, wrap it in an old towel and place it in a cooler to rest for about 30 minutes. Carefully open the foil (there will be a LOT of juice) and shred the pork with a fork.