What lover of barbecue doesn't enjoy mouth-watering pulled pork? Whether it's piled high on a plate, sandwiched on a toasted bun, or topped with cole slaw, pulled pork is a classic. Problem is, most of what passes for pulled pork in a restaurant is pretty disappointing and doesn't do the real thing justice. Here are some secrets to getting competition quality in your back yard smoker.
Before placing the pork butt (shoulder) in the smoker, remove most of the fat cap. Sure fat is flavor, and a lot of it will render down into the meat, helping to provide flavor and moisture, but you'll still be left with a big layer of blubber to remove later. This takes away from the dark flavorful bark (crust) that is essential to the final product. So just leave a micro-thin layer of fat and apply your favorite rub generously to all sides of the shoulder. If you do this right, you'll end up with a dark crust that is made of meat and rub and won't have to be thrown away! Also, always use a bone-in pork butt. The bone adds flavor and also is a built-in thermometer.
Let the shoulder cook at 225 degrees for about six hours and then wrap it in foil for the remaining time. If I am at home, I'll usually transfer the wrapped product to my oven and turn it up to about 300. You really don't need the smoker at this point. The butt has absorbed all the smoke it's going to take on and another six hours in the smoker can use a lot of charcoal and wood. At about 300 degrees in your kitchen oven, you can really speed up the process. The pork butt is ready when the bone removes easily and cleanly from the meat. It should pull right out with little effort.
Leave the foil package open and let the butt rest for at least a half hour before you start tearing in to it. Transfer it into a roasting pan or something large with sides on it. This is because you will be pouring all of the juice that collected in the foil wrapper. This makes your juicy pulled pork even more flavorful and juicy. Do NOT throw that liquid away! Pull the pork into bite-size shreds or pieces. Mix in some more of the rub you used on it earlier and mix that thoroughly through the meat. Invite some friends over and be prepared for them to make a huge deal out of your barbecue skills. Absolutely incredible food!!!!
One last thought that you may want to try: If your smoker still has some heat and smoke going, put the pulled pork in a foil pan and put it back in the smoker for a half hour or so, tossing it around every 5 or 10 minutes. Twice-smoked pulled pork is even better!