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Pulled Pork

July 27, 2013

I’m visiting some friends for a BBQ on Sunday, and thought I would take them some pulled pork. For this, I got hold of 3 medium bone-in pork shoulders, known colloquially as a “butt”.

porkI had a busy day planned for yesterday, but I got up early, and prepared the three shoulders with a paprika-based rub. I set the Traeger pellet smoker to medium, while I did this, so it was about 260 degrees Fahrenheit when the butts went in.

I left it at that temperature while I had a shower and got ready to go out, as the meat was straight out of the fridge, and cold. Before I left, I switched it to the “smoke” setting, which averages between 180-200 degrees.

When I got home for lunch, they were looking very nice indeed, the outside was a deep mahogany colour. I checked that I still had plenty of pellets in the hopper, and then went out again.

At about 5pm, they were at 170 degrees. I normally wrap my pork in foil at 160-165, so I did so now. Opinion is divided about foiling pork. On the positive side, it seems to speed up the final stage of the cook, and also means you save all of the meat juices. The downside is that the outside of the joint, which at this stage is crispy, softens somewhat. All thing consider, I prefer to foil, adding a small glass of apple juice to each parcel before closing.

At 8pm, the butts were at 200 degrees, and so ready for removal from the smoker. However, that isn’t the end of the cooking. The next stage is to place the still-foiled shoulders into a drinks cooler. As an insulated box, this will hold the meat at a steady temperature, during which they finish cooking from their own heat, and reabsorb some of the juices.

Finally, at 10pm, the butts are ready to pull. Here is one, straight out of the foil.

The pork is just right for pulling, it comes away from the bone cleanly.

I have been experimenting with mustard and vinegar sauces recently, rather than my regular tomato-based BBQ sauce. Today’s sauce is made from mustard (mustard powder and apple juice); cider vinegar; black treacle (molasses); paprika; salt, pepper and assorted herbs and spices; meat juices; and a shot of hot sauce. Here is a taster sample, to see if the sauce works with the pork. I am really happy with it.

Although the shoulders weren’t particularly big, they had a surprising amount of meat on them. This container is usually used as my bread store, so there is a lot of meat there. The smaller container is spare sauce.

All I have to do now is make sure I don’t eat it all before tomorrow. This is lunch.

One Response to Pulled Pork

  1. Chris on July 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t know what I was thinking of last night, I can only think I was tired. For the last stage of resting the pork in an insulated box, 2 hours is far too long, 30 minutes is much more appropriate.

    As a result, the pork was pleasant to taste, but had lost some of its texture, being quite soft. Essentially, it was overcooked – not nastily so, but just not how it should be.

    Still, this is all part of the grand experiment. The pork I have left is going to go into a lasagne, where the flavour will be the important thing. Then I need to get some more shoulders and try again!

    A lesson to remember – no matter how well you think you know the recipe and method, check your timings and quantities; it only takes 5 minutes, and can save a dish.

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