Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awesome Pulled Pork

If you know anything at all about southern food, you know that pulled pork is a time-honored southern tradition. I live in a suburban neighborhood in the Deep South, and on any weekend, I can step outdoors and smell the wood smoke from backyard smokers. Mmm…the aroma of pecan wood and pork cooking fills my nostrils and teases my taste buds. After inhaling that heady scent of a future pulled pork recipe, I usually have to run to the nearest BBQ restaurant and order my own pulled pork. If I can control my craving until the next day, I might go to the supermarket, purchase a pork shoulder, and bring it home and rub it. I’d get hubby to put it on the smoker.

Hubby and I are old hands at smoking pork shoulders, or more specifically, pork butts. Seriously – just about everyone who has ever tasted our smoked pork butt swears it’s the best pulled pork recipe they’ve ever had. Below, I’ll share some tips with you about how to make pulled pork, but I won’t get too specific. If you want more detailed info on how to make pulled pork, you can click any of the links in this post.

The best pulled pork recipe uses a pork butt, or Boston butt.
The best pulled pork recipe requires rubbing the pork with a wet or dry BBQ rub.

The best pulled pork recipe uses a rub that includes paprika, salt, brown sugar, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, vinegar, and/or hot sauce. Some people also like to use dried oregano or sage, but I don’t.

The best pulled pork recipe includes wrapping the rubbed butt in plastic food wrap and leaving it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
The best pulled pork is cooked at 225 degrees for about two hours per pound. The best BBQ woods are hickory, pecan, oak, and peach.
The best pulled pork is cooked with moist heat. Our smoker has a water pan that we fill with a mixture of water and beer or fruit juice. We usually prefer apple juice.

The best pulled pork recipe requires cooking the pork butt fat-side up. Yes, some folks will tell you to cook the Boston butt fat-side down. With the fat side up, however, the adipose tissue in the cap will keep the pork nice and juicy as the fat melts.

The best pulled pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 180-190 degrees.

The best pulled pork recipe requires the cooked pork to be finely shredded. This can be easily done with two standard kitchen forks. The finer the pork is shredded, the more sauce it will hold because there’ll be a lot more surface area.

The best pulled pork recipe includes combining the pulled smoked pork shoulder with a great homemade barbecue sauce. If you don’t have access to a great homemade barbecue sauce, use a good commercially bottled barbecue sauce. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s Brown Sugar and Hickory, Bull’s Eye Original, Sweet Baby Ray’s Vidalia Onion, and Sweet Baby Ray’s Raspberry Chipotle.

The best pulled pork is served with hushpuppies, creamy coleslaw, baked beans, French fries, and plenty of ice cold sweet tea.
The best pulled pork requires LOTS of napkins!!

Obviously, these are my ideas of the best recipe for pork barbecue. Your favorite might very well be different. Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes great barbecue. That being said, if you’re a true connoisseur of traditional southern pulled pork, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed with these tips. Really – they’re practically fool-proof for how to make pulled pork, Deep South-style!