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Basic Pull or Sliced Pork
I love pulled pork! I think this and pastrami are my favorite things to smoke! You can use a Boston Butt or fresh shoulder or picnic. I use shoulders a lot because they are on sale more often and because they are readily available at my local market. Boston Butts tend to yield a bit more meat than picnics.
Here’s a picture of a fresh picnic I purchased at Wal Mart:
To prepare the pork just rub it down real well with yellow mustard or mustard powder and maybe some of your favorite rub, and let it sit it until smoking time. For more information about rubs download Deejay’s Book of Rubs from the Herbs and Spice Downloads page. Once in the smoker spray it with apple juice every hour or so during smoking.
A shoulder or butt will take about 1.5 hours per pound of meat to smoke. You will need to smoke the meat at 225° - 230°F until the internal temperature reaches 140°. AT that point you will no longer get an increase in smoke ring but it will continue to absorb the smoky flavor. I like to add smoke through the whole process but it’s up to you. From there take it up to 180°F if you plan to slice it, or 200° - 205°F if your plan is to pull it.
I like to cook my pork to around 160° -165° F internally without a wrap, then finish my by wrapping it in multiple layers of plastic wrap with a layer of foil on the outside to help collect the meat juices. Do this until the internal temperature is between 200° to 205° F. Next, leave it in the plastic wrap and let it rest wrapped in towels in a cooler for a few hours. This really makes it juicy and tender.
Many purists object to this procedure but after an hour or so you will have much more meat juice, “au jus” to add to your dipping sauce or just pour over the slices before serving!
Now large pieces of meat are a little unpredictable. I’ve had 11 pound butts go for 12 to 14 hours. If it’s getting late and you want to go to bed you can set your oven temperature to 200º F throw the wrapped butt or shoulder in the oven and let it go until morning. The plastic wrap with hold in most of the juices and the foil will catch any that leaked out of the plastic wrap and jus t be sure put the whole thing in a shallow pan to catch anything that may escape so you don’t have a mess in the morning. If wrapped in plastic I don’t think you can really cook a butt to long if you maintain 200º F in your oven. I’ve had them in there for up to 10 hours after a 8 to 10 hour smoke and they still come out juicy!
About plastic wrap – I don’t like saran wrap. It smells to much like plastic. I generally buy the restaurant grade at BJ’s or Sam’s club. It’s much cheaper in the long run, doesn’t leave a plastic smell behind and it with hold up in the oven up to 250º F. In a pinch if I run out I will use Reynolds brand plastic wrap because BJ’s is an hour away from me!
The Smoking Plateau many marinades and flips later the meat has reached 151° F and reached a plateau. Anyone who has smoked meat has experienced this strange phenomenon. The meat reaches a certain temperature and gets stuck at that temperature for sometimes hours on end.
Once temperature has finally started to rise again and very slowly over the next several hours it makes its' way up to 165° F then 170° F then 175° F. I normally remove the pork once it reaches 185° F unless I am going to pull it. If plan to pull it I will let it get up to 200° F.
Pour the meat juices into a bowl and put it the refrigerator while you pull the pork or while the meat is resting before slicing. After the meat juice solidifies run paper towel lightly around the fat (the orange stuff) and it will stick to the paper towel. Once the fat is removed heat it in the microwave, mix juices the meat and enjoy. Doing this will ensure you’ll never have a greasy pulled pork!
If you let it sit for an hour or so you can tear the meat apart with two forks or use your hands. If done properly the meat will just fall apart in your hands. All you have to do is pick out the fat.
Another tip - when pulling pork if your anything like me – I HATE FAT! It just gags me. I separate each of the muscle groups scrape off the all the fat and break the meat into bite sized pieces. Some people prefer the long strips of pork but I’m always afraid the little ones will choke on it so I make everything bite sized and my thumbs are just about the right width – so I grab a piece between thumb and forefinger pull it apart.
BTW – it’s also less messy to eat in bite sized pieces. It won’t slap you in the chin like spaghetti! If you have any leftovers it’s ready to throw in your next pot of chili, or carne guisada! Of course the size of your pieces is up to you! Enjoy!
Don’t forget the dipping sauce! This is my favorite dipping sauce below:
1 teaspoon white pepper,
1 teaspoon sea salt,
1 teaspoon Cajun spice,
4 teaspoons pure Maple syrup,
4 teaspoons Tomato Based BBQ sauce
(in the recipe section)
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