Pulled Pork

Okay, this is a big one. Pulled pork can have a singular effect on an entire weekend. Preparation can begin the night before, doesn’t have to, unless you count brining and getting your rub ready. I’m using a combination of prep methods in an attempt to control the salt. I only give it a 6-8 hour brine, allowing minimal penetration. In my opinion, this gives it an optimally uniform distribution, and I don’t have to worry about the ratio in a pre-made rub, like This Rub. Often, this dish will provide benefits to many others: the bones can be used for ham stock (which leads to collard greens); during smoking, pork and beans can be placed under the meat for drippings; the burnt ends, if you have any, can also go into bean dishes; and the pork itself can be used with ham for Cuban sandwiches; trimmed skin can be used for cracklins!

Pulled Pork

From Sabreland | Main Dishes | BBQ

Pulled Pork


High cal Calories 582kcal

High fat Total Fat 38g

High sat-fat Saturated Fat 13g

High chol Cholesterol 145mg

High sodium Sodium 1544mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 24g

Serving size 307g Calories from fat 339kcal Fiber 2g Protein 36g Sugar 19g
20 servings


  • 8-10 lbs Pork Shoulder

  • Brine:
  • 1-1/2 quarts of water
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seed
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns

  • Rub
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Pork Shoulder:
  2. Whole or split into the butt and picnic. When split, be sure to keep both pieces even in thickness. Trim off the skin and reserve for cracklins. Trim off excess fat, optionally reserve for drippings. Remember, rub sticks to meat, not fat. When fat melts, it runs away with the rub and contrary to popular belief, does not get absorbed into meat. If the butt is loose, tie it with twine to hold together.
  3. Brine:
  4. In a saucepan, add water and salt, bring to a boil until the salt is dissolved. Cool in an ice bath in the sink, whisking in the molasses as it cools. Pulse the other ingredients in a spice grinder and add to the brine. Place meat in ziplock bags and evenly distribute the brine among them. Remove any air as best you can and seal tightly. Give ‘em a quick massage and place them in a drip proof pan late the night before. 6-8 hours at the most.
  5. The following morning, get up early! Pour off the brine and give the shoulder a quick rinse in cold water. Pat dry and place on a rack. Apply your rub liberally on top of a light coat of oil, or better yet, bacon fat. Cover lightly and hold in the fridge for 2 hours.
  6. During this time, drink coffee and get the rest of your needs situated, get your smoker fired up and stabilized at 225F to 250F. Or, if you’re using a grill (you can do that), get your zones set up and your smoker box or foil packets ready. Keep a pan of water in the smoker for moisture. You can expect an 8 to 10 hour cook at 225F. Place the shoulder directly on the grate and dust again with rub.
  7. You know your smoker or grill best. I usually hit this recipe with a half pound or so of pecan and/or apple wood chips, introduced evenly every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours. I’ll also turn the meat every couple of hours because I believe in gravity.
  8. At 150F or so, you may hit the stall for a couple of hours. This is fine, don’t worry. It’ll pass eventually and form a better bark. When the meat hits 170F, the connective tissue starts to break down, and this is where Pork ‘n Pork ‘n Pork ‘n beans come in, if you’re making them. Because now you need to put them in the smoker underneath the shoulder to catch those drippings. Need, I say.
  9. It may be ready at 195F. You’ll have to check. If the bone twists out, or a fork turns 90 degrees easily, it’s done. If not, push it a little higher to 203F. When it’s ready, rest on a rack in a 170F oven for 30 minutes. Don’t wrap in foil! You’ll soften your bark that way!
  10. Pull apart with a couple of forks and mix all the bark pieces with the meat pieces and the fat pieces and the juicy pieces…….and try to show some restraint. Sometimes, those crunchy pieces of bark are too tempting. If you have the self-control, you really should cut off any burnt ends and toss those in the beans. I used to toss the whole thing with a tomato or vinegar-based sauce. But I’ve matured since then. The pork stands easily on its own, and you can serve sauces with more variety this way. Traditionally this is served on a soft roll with slaw, or just in a pile on a plate with sides.

Split Pork Shoulder WP_20140724_008 WP_20140724_010 WP_20140726_002 WP_20140726_003 WP_20140726_005 WP_20140726_010

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