Pulled Pork for Dummies

Traditional American barbecue is pork, cooked as simply as possible with wood, smoke, and time. There are no secret ingredients, no secret techniques, nothing that anyone couldn't do as long as they had the right meat and cooker.

I'm going to make the assumption here that you already have the right kind of cooker. Whether it's a big stick-burner mounted on a trailer or a little Weber kettle, as long as you can do indirect heat you can cook barbecue and make pulled pork.

Step by Step Instructions:
  1. On the day before you intend to serve the pulled pork, you'll need to prepare the meat and let it marinate overnight. In the pictures above, I'm cooking a picnic shoulder. These directions are the same for Boston butts and whole shoulders.

    • Remove the pork from its package and wash off any excess blood or brine.
    • Wipe it totally dry.
    • Using around 1/2 a cup of olive oil, rub the entire butt including the crevices.
    • Completely cover every inch of the meat with your favorite dry rub, rubbing it into the meat wherever possible.
    • Wrap the meat in cellophane or put it into a large ziploc bag and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Start the fire in your cooker at least one hour before you plan to start cooking. This will let the temperature stabilze. Take the meat out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter until you are ready to start cooking it.
  3. Put the meat in the cooker fat side down. There is enough fat in the meat that the extra layer of fat is not going to do much for you. Plus, when you lift the finished meat off the grates in your cooker, the fat will be the only thing left behind.
  4. Cook at 225 to 250 degrees until a meat probe stuck into the deepest part of the meat reads 195 degrees. Will this take 4 hours or 12 hours? It all depends on the size of the piece of meat, how well your cooker holds temperature, and a dozen other factors that are pretty much beyond your control. The good news is that once the meat is done, you can wrap it in foil, put it in a cooler or hot box, and hold it for hours on end.

    Interesting note here: at around 160 degrees the temperature will stop going up for a while, perhaps an hour or two. Don't panic. This is normal and it's called the plateau.

  5. When you are ready to serve, unwrap the meat (keep it wrapped until the last possible moment to avoid drying out) and pull it apart or chop it into pieces.