Pulled Pork is nothing more than slow smoked pork butt or pork shoulder. But which is it? They are from two different ends of the animal. Well they do and they don’t because really it’s both. They are one in the same and the terms will be used interchangeably in this post. A pork butt is not from the butt of the pig. It was named a butt after the barrels called butts that they were shipped in back in the days of the wooden sailing ship. Both pork butt and pork shoulder make pulled pork. I’ll hand it over to Tom from here to take care of the ingredients and grilling instructions…
Pulled Pork Marinade Ingredients
2 pork butts/shoulder (same thing) approximately 4.5 lbs each
4 cups apple juice, divided
1/2 cup fresh, minced garlic, divided
1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ rub
First of all, place each pork butt in apple juice, garlic, and rub into a resealable plastic bag or other container and marinate from 4-24 hours in the fridge:
Remove from the marinade and pat dry:
Pulled Pork Rub Ingredients:
2 tbs onion powder
4 tbs of your favorite BBQ Seasoning
2 tbs garlic powder
4 tbs Spanish paprika
4 tbs kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Coat each pork shoulder with olive oil and then the rub. When applying the rub, be liberal. Think of how much surface area there is compared to the meat in one pork butt. If you go light, then the rub will have little impact on the flavor of the meat.
Set up grill, in this case a Kamado style, for indirect grilling which means putting a plate setter between the fire and the grill grate. In a regular grill, put coals and smoke wood on one side and the meat on the other.
Target temperature of the grill is between 225-250. Put your favorite smoke wood on the coals and smoke the butts for approximately 2 hours per pound, until internal temp is 185-190°. For a very extensive list of smoke woods and what foods they pair well with, click this link.
Time to get to the grilling. Here are the two pork shoulders when they were first put on the grill:
Pork shoulders at the three hour mark:
Somewhere around the 5-6 hour mark, you will experience the stall. That’s when the collagen inside the pork shoulders melts and cools the meat down. Similar to throwing water on a fire. The steady climb of the temps on your probe thermometer will stall out for up to an hour, only rising a few degrees. Be patient. Don’t add more fuel to the grill. Just relax, have an adult libation and enjoy your time by the grill.
8 hours in the smoker and the pork shoulders are looking perfect:
At this point, pull each pork butt off the grill and wrap in foil to cool down and allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The shoulders will continue to cook while resting in foil for a little while. Let the pork shoulders rest in the foil for an hour:
Shred meat from the pork shoulders with a couple of these cool meat forks if you have them:
Or you can use regular forks or even your fingers:
The sweetness of the apple juice melds beautifully with the savory of the rub. This pulled pork didn’t need any sauce. It was that good on its own. Enjoy!
If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, feel free to leave them below or shoot Tom an email.
- 2 pork butts/shoulder (same thing) approximately 4.5 lbs each
- 4 cups apple juice, divided
- ½ cup fresh, minced garlic, divided
- ¼ cup of your favorite BBQ rub
- 2 tbs onion powder
- 4 tbs of your favorite BBQ Seasoning
- 2 tbs garlic powder
- 4 tbs Spanish paprika
- 4 tbs kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Olive oil
- Place the marinade ingredients in a water tight container along with the pork shoulders and soak in the fridge for 4-24 hours
- Combine the dry ingredients of the rub in a bowl and mix well
- Coat the outside of the pork butts with olive oil and then liberally apply the rub
- Set up the grill for two zone or indirect grilling which means a plate setter between the fire and the grill grates in a Kamado style grill or coals on side and nothing on the other in a regular grill
- Target temperature of the grill is between 225-250F
- Place a chunk your favorite smoke wood on the coals and the pork shoulders on over the plate setter in a Kamado or on the side with no heat in a regular grill
- Smoke for approximately 2 hours per pound of one pork butt (not combined weight) until they reach an internal temperature of between 185-190F
- Remove from the grill, wrap in foil and allow to rest for an hour
- Shred with fingers or shredding forks
- Serve with buns, slaw and BBQ sauce on the side but don't expect people to eat a lot of sauce. They won't need it.