Pulled Pork

Julia Child once said “the grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes.” I’ve always been fond of this well-known quote, as there are plenty of times when disaster strikes in my kitchen. However, whatever happens, I always seem to recover and learn something new or discover a brand new recipe. Recently, I had one of my “learned a lesson” cooking experiences: Do Not Attempt to Smoke Meat When it is -15 and Windy Outside.

I had a plan to make pulled pork recently while an uncle was in town. Kyle had been craving it for a while, and instead of the usual slow-oven method, I really wanted to smoke the meat. I’ve been on a Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins & Dives) kick lately, and every single time Guy Fieri is at a BBQ joint learning how they slowly smoke the rich, fatty meats into submission, my mouth starts watering and my mind is consumed with thoughts of tender pork. When I woke up on this fateful Sunday morning (early. so I would have enough time to soak the wood and have the meat cooked in time for family to come eat), I checked the weather and cringed. Right then I should have told my stubborn self “NO! abort the plan and just cook the damm thing in the oven.” But alas…I could not be reasoned with.

After the BBQ was lit and prepared, I put on my Parka, threw the pork shoulder on the grill, ran back inside and pretended the cold didn’t exist. I spent the rest of the morning cleaning, cooking a fabulous brunch, sitting on my butt and watching TV, aware that the BBQ was making strange noises. I kept poking my head outside to see what the racket was about. Apparently the wind was attempting to blow out the flame. Ugh. And when I would check on the meat, I noticed that the wind was blowing all the smoke outside of the BBQ and the temperature was barely reaching 200 degrees F. OHMYGOD this meat is never going to cook!!

Needless to say by noon I became more rational and preheated the oven to 250 degrees F. I hung my head low and donned my winter gear to liberate the meat from it’s icy chamber. I placed the meat in a roasting pan, put it in the oven and smiled: the strong scent of applewood smokiness was wafting from the (very) raw pink meat. Tiny win!

BBQ/Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

* Note: this recipe is exactly how I ended up cooking the pork that day. But I urge you to try smoking your meat all day … once summer has arrived. Also, remember to dry rub your meat the night before! And give yourself enough time: with preheating BBQ, cook time, and rest time this takes about 9-10 hours.

For the Rub
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 (4 lb) pork shoulder
Applewood chips for BBQ
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
soft Hamburger buns (however many you will need: about 1-2/person)

For the Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

The night before you plan on smoking your meat: Combine dry rub ingredients (smoked paprika thru pepper). Sprinkle over entire pork shoulder and rub into pork. Cover pork and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

The morning you plan on smoking your meat: Take pork out of fridge and let it start to come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, pour a few big handfuls of the woodchips into a sink or bowl full of water. Let the woodchips soak up the liquid for at least 30 minutes. Preheat one side of the BBQ to high. Drain the wood chips as much as you can and place them on a large piece of tin foil. Fold up the tin foil like a packet and slice a couple of holes in the package so the smoke can escape (you don’t need many – the smoke will find its way out). Turn the side of the BBQ that’s on down to med-low and place the wood chips directly on the coals. If you have a thermometer for your BBQ, wait till the temperature is around 225-250 degrees F, or give the BBQ about 5-10 minutes to cool down. Place the pork directly on the grill rack over the burner that is off – you want to cook the meat using indirect heat, low & slow.

After 2 hours of waiting anxiously for your pork to cook (and nothing is happening), preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.

Place smoked pork into roasting pan and put in the oven. Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 cup of ketchup and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar. After the pork has been in the oven for 1 hour, take it out and baste it with the ketchup mixture. Pour 1/4 cup of water and any remaining ketchup into the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the oven for another 2 hours.

Pour another 1/4 cup of water into pan and then cover tightly with tin foil. Return pork back to oven for another 3 hours. Remove pork from oven and allow to rest for about 30 min.

While you’re letting the pork rest you can either heat up your favourite BBQ sauce, or make my BBQ sauce – it’s easy so I suggest giving it a try. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Allow to come to a boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. I like to add the pan juices to the sauce as well – just make sure to skim off as much fat as possible.

Shred the pork and serve on buns. I prefer my pulled pork sandwiches to only have sauce poured over the top, but Kyle likes his pork dipped in sauce then put on the bun (with extra BBQ sauce of course). Serve this any way you prefer.

Makes enough pork & sauce for 14-16 sandwiches. (But leftovers are great for pizza, tacos, pasta sauces, ravioli…oh I can go on)

The best side to serve with pulled pork sandwiches is a cool coleslaw – I like to throw some on my bun!


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  1. #1 by Kyle C on April 25, 2011 - 8:19 pm

    I was salivating reading this post remembering how well this turned out!! Nice work sweetheart!!

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