Smoking pulled pork is an art that requires patience, skill, and knowledge. It’s a long process that can take up to 14 hours, but the result is worth it. In this ultimate guide, we will walk you through the steps of smoking pulled pork, from selecting the right cut of meat to serving it on a plate. We will also share tips, tricks, and techniques to make your pulled pork the best it can be.
Selecting the Right Cut of Pork
The first step to smoking pulled pork is selecting the right cut of pork. The most common cut used for pulled pork is the pork shoulder, also known as the Boston butt. This cut comes from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder and has a lot of fat, which makes it perfect for smoking. Another cut you can use is the picnic shoulder, which comes from the lower part of the shoulder. It has more bone and less fat than the Boston butt, but it’s still a great choice.
When selecting a cut of pork, look for one that has a good amount of marbling. Marbling is the fat that runs through the meat and gives it flavor and juiciness. You should also look for a cut that has a good amount of connective tissue, which will break down during the smoking process and make the meat tender.
Preparing the Pork
Before you start smoking the pork, you need to prepare it. Start by trimming off any excess fat from the meat. You don’t want to remove all the fat, just the excess. Next, apply a dry rub to the meat. A dry rub is a mixture of spices and herbs that will add flavor to the meat. You can buy a pre-made dry rub or make your own. Some common spices used in a dry rub include paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and brown sugar.
After applying the dry rub, wrap the meat in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight. This will give the dry rub time to penetrate the meat and add flavor.
Setting up the Smoker
Now that the pork is prepared, it’s time to set up the smoker. There are many types of smokers available, but the most common are charcoal, electric, and gas. Whichever type of smoker you use, you will need to set it up for indirect heat. This means that the heat source is not directly under the meat. Instead, the meat is placed on a rack above the heat source.
When setting up the smoker, fill the water pan with water. This will help keep the meat moist during the smoking process. If you’re using wood chips for flavor, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker.
Smoking the Pork
Once the smoker is set up, it’s time to smoke the pork. Place the meat on the rack in the smoker and close the lid. The temperature should be set to 225°F. This low and slow cooking method will allow the meat to cook slowly and absorb the smoke flavor.
You should check the temperature of the meat every hour using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 195°F before it’s done. This can take up to 14 hours, depending on the size of the meat.
Resting and Shredding the Pork
Once the meat has reached an internal temperature of 195°F, it’s time to remove it from the smoker and let it rest. Wrap the meat in aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 1 hour. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and make it more tender.
After the meat has rested, it’s time to shred it. Use two forks to pull the meat apart, discarding any fat or connective tissue. You can also use a meat shredder or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to shred the meat.
Serving the Pulled Pork
Now that the pulled pork is ready, it’s time to serve it. You can serve it on a plate with your favorite barbecue sauce and sides, or you can use it in other dishes like sandwiches, tacos, or nachos. The possibilities are endless.
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat.
- Let the meat rest for at least 1 hour before shredding it.
- Use a dry rub to add flavor to the meat.
- Soak wood chips in water before adding them to the smoker.
- Use indirect heat when smoking the meat.
- Check the temperature of the smoker every hour to make sure it’s maintaining a temperature of 225°F.
- Don’t rush the smoking process. Low and slow is the key to tender, juicy pulled pork.
Smoking pulled pork is a time-consuming process, but the result is worth it. By following these tips, tricks, and techniques, you can make the best pulled pork you’ve ever had. Remember to select the right cut of pork, prepare it with a dry rub, smoke it using indirect heat, and let it rest before shredding it. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be a pulled pork master in no time.