Pulled Pork done in an Infrared Grill
Recently, the good people at Char-Broil sent the Grillin Fools a couple grills to review. The first to get a review was the Big Easy Smoker, Roaster and Grill (BESRG) that I used with this recipe and is getting more and more use as I find more and more ways to use it. I wrote a full review of the BESRG that you can find here.
One of my criticisms was that the grill runs too hot with the low temp being 375 with the lid closed so the smoke would really envelope the meat. That I wish it ran lower so I can set it and forget it for smoking say a pork butt or a brisket. But then I started to think about it. I don’t do much low and slow anymore. I use what is now commonly called the high heat method rather than low and slow. High heat method is somewhat of a misnomer since the high heat method is generally between 275-325 for ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. That’s more medium. But if I’m getting great results at 325, what’s another 50 degrees? So I decided to see if I could pull off pulled pork at 375. From the pics above I’m guessing you already know the results. See below to see the pictures and instructions on how to do this every step of the way…
This was sort of a last minute idea so I went to my local grocer to get a pork shoulder/pork butt/Boston butt. All of these are the exact same thing. The reason a cut of meat taken from the shoulder of a pig is called a pork butt or Boston butt is that back in the day of wooden ships this cut of meat was salted and packed into large barrels, known as butts, for the sailors on long voyages. The shipping barrel, or butt, was often to Boston since it was a major port, and eventually the container name, and sometimes the destination city, were adopted as the name of the cut of meat. Pork shoulder, pork butt, and Boston butt are all the same thing.
The only variety the grocer had was the picnic butt which has a long bone going right through the middle. I purchased an 8+ pounder and cut off a 3+ pound section, away from the thick bone, to do for the first time:
Not having any idea if this would work I didn’t want to use the whole thing and waste it if it sucked. In the picture above you can see the smaller one on the right, that I cooked, and the larger half flipped over to see the fat cap.
I put the bigger piece in the freezer and slathered the smaller with a rub:
Since wet sauces and sugars tend to not do so well with infrared cooking, due to the high temps, my normally sweet rub was replaced by this:
1 TBSP granulated garlic
1 TBSP sweet paprika
1 TSP chili powder
1/4 TSP ground mustard
1 TSP fresh ground black pepper
1 TSP onion powder (I was out of granulated onion)
1/2 TSP celery seed
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1/4 TSP cumin
1 TSP Penzey’s smoke salt (course salt can be substituted as well)
1/2 TSP crushed red pepper (optional)
Use whatever rub you like but make sure it has no sugars in it. I was worried I was pressing my luck with the cinnamon but it worked well.
I slathered it on all sides and put it in a ziplock for a few hours. I had some rub left over so I put that on the pork after I placed it into the basket to go into the BESRG:
Then it was time to prep the grill. Another criticism I had of the BESRG is that the smoker box isn’t all that well designed. It’s small and not easy to change out the wood chips after they have smoked, so I went with a very easy fix. Tin foil tray:
Filled with dry hickory chips:
Place the foil tray on the bottom of the grill:
I set the temp on high and cranked the BESRG on. When I got some smoke out of the chips I dropped the temp to low (375) and got the meat ready to go in.
I inserted a thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat:
And dropped the basket into the chamber. After 90 minutes this is what it looked like. I wasn’t getting any heavy smoke at this point but some was wafting up. Everything was smelling and looking great:
The internal temperature was up to 139. So far so good:
Please note, that I wasn’t going for a total temp of 160. It was the default setting and I figured when I got to that point I could reset it. The target here is 190-195.
At this point I gave the meat a mopping with apple cider:
I left the lid open at this point and the temp dropped down to about 250 inside the chamber. I mopped every 30 minutes from this point on. It was taking much longer than I thought and after 2 hours I kicked the temp up to medium on the dial. At the three hour mark I kicked it up to high. You’re not reading that wrong. I kicked the temp up to high for the last hour. I hit it with 500 degrees for the last hour and because it’s infrared the end result was awesome. If I had done that with convection (hot, drying air) I would’ve really dried it out at that temp. But I got away with it with infrared which heats the meat directly rather than heat the air to heat the meat. And I had to kick it up or I was never going to eat. It stalled at 160 just like most pork butts do in conventional grill. See, the clock on that thermometer is an hour slow because I never adjusted it for day light savings time. I didn’t wind up eating until 10:30 that night.
At at 3.5 hours (approximately 9:30) it looked like this:
It had a nice bark on the outside and smelled amazing. It still has a little ways to go though as the internal temperature is still only 181:
Finally, at just over four hours, the remote I had clipped to my pocket beeped at me. It finally got to 190:
Here’s the meat at the four hour and 15 minute mark.
Now time for the foil and some resting:
Now wrap it in a towel:
And put it in something that is used to control temp like an empty cooler, an unlit oven or a microwave like I did here:
Why all the hassle of letting it rest? Resting is very important to maintaining juicy meat. See, when the meat comes out of a hot grill the juices inside are in an excited state. The molecules are moving a million miles an hour but contained inside the meat. Slice into it right away and all those juices are going to have an exit and will quickly run out of the meat all over the plate or cutting board. Letting the meat rest inside foil and a towel will allow those juices to calm down without the meat getting cold.
After 30 minutes it was the moment of truth. I easily forked away half of the cut as it fell apart easily thanks to my two forks:
It was completely forked in less than two minutes because it was so tender and juicy:
Normally when dealing with boneless pork butt I use the ziplock bag method of breaking the meat up. Place the meat in a two gallon ziplock, place it on the counter and then smack the crap out of it a couple times with the back of a frying pan. But since it was 10:45 when I was finally going to pull the meat I decided against the risk of waking up my 2 year old and 8 week old. But if you want to see how that’s done, check out this video:
The million dollar question – how was it? It was really good. The bark was great. The meat was tender and juicy and pulled easily. It didn’t have a ton of smoke flavor, but that’s not always a bad thing. My wife and a coworker are people that don’t like a lot of smoke. I didn’t think those people existed but there seems to be a lot of them out there. The flavor was excellent and the maintenance of the cookout was pretty simple. I put the meat in and mopped twice an hour for the last couple of hours. That’s it. I will be doing the other side of the pork shoulder soon enough because this was a home run.
So now I have to wonder if I need to go back and edit my review of the BESRG since it makes some really good pulled pork despite the fact that it can’t get down to 200. This thing grows on me more and more every time I use it.
If you have any questions about pulled pork done infrared, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email
For other pork recipes including reverse seared pork steaks click here.