Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich: This is one of my top 3 favorite summer recipes of all time!  The pork shoulder is slow-cooked in a smoker all day, and it's absolutely delicious!One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer is to get up early and get the smoker going for an all-day smoke-a-thon.  Ok, so maybe the getting up early part isn’t my favorite…but the results are worth it!  I’ve been really craving Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork lately, so a couple days ago, I hopped up and got the smoker all set up and had the pork shoulder on by 8am.  The key to delicious Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork is low and slow.  The meat cooks at a low temperature for many, many hours, and as a result, the taste and texture of the meat is absolutely incredible.  When it comes to this style of cooking, there’s an old adage that says, “If you’re lookin’, then you ain’t cookin’!”

Pulled Pork Sandwich: This is one of my top 3 favorite summer recipes of all time!  The pork shoulder is slow-cooked in a smoker all day, and it's absolutely delicious!The beautiful thing about making Pulled Pork (and other similar smoked meats) is that they require a bit of preparation up front, but then you can sit back and let the grill do the work.  In fact, while this Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork was in the smoker, I was off doing all sorts of chores around the house.  If you don’t already own a probe thermometer, then you will find this to be a very handy (almost essential) tool to have.  I personally like this digital probe by CDN, but any probe style thermometer will work.  Simply insert the probe into the middle of the meat before placing it on the grill, and then just check the temperature occasionally to make sure you are on track.  (Tip: Make sure the probe isn’t touching any bones as that would give you an inaccurate temperature.)

Pulled Pork Sandwich: This is one of my top 3 favorite summer recipes of all time!  The pork shoulder is slow-cooked in a smoker all day, and it's absolutely delicious!For this Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork recipe, your target grill temperature is about 240°F.  If using charcoal, light your charcoal and let it stabilize at about 240°F before starting the meat.  (As long as your temperature is between 230°F-250°F, you should be fine.  If it starts to get further away, then you’ll need to adjust the air vents to get the temperature back in line.)  This pulled pork will take about 1-1.5 hours per pound to cook, so make sure to start early…or plan on staying up late to keep an eye on it.  (I used an 8.5 pound pork shoulder, and it took about 12 hours to reach the target internal temperature of 190°F-195°F.  Since this will be cooking literally all day, I highly recommend using lump charcoal (instead of briquettes) and wood chunks (instead of wood chips).  Both are designed to burn longer, which means you won’t need to stop and add more charcoal throughout the day.  I started with a full load of lump charcoal and about 4-5 large chunks of wood, and I easily made it to the end of the day without adding more.  (On a side note, my wife gave me a large Big Green Egg for my birthday last year, and it is amazing!)

So grab a pork shoulder (also called pork butt or Boston butt) at the market, pick up some lump charcoal and wood chunks, and spend a great summer’s day making homemade pulled pork.  But beware…as the day goes on, your neighbors will likely come over to see what’s for dinner!

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder (aka pork butt or Boston butt)
  • hickory wood chunks
  • lump charcoal
  • For the Spiced Signature Smoky Rub
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • For Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • hamburger buns
  • coleslaw
  • barbecue sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions

  1. Fill grill/smoker with lump charcoal and wood chunks.
  2. Preheat grill/smoker to 240°.
  3. Combine all of the spices for the rub in a small bowl and mix until well blended.
  4. Apply rub to all sides of the pork shoulder.
  5. Insert probe thermometer into pork shoulder, taking care to avoid touching bone.
  6. Place pork shoulder on grill and close lid.
  7. Periodically check on the temperature of the grill to ensure it stays around 240°F +/- 10°F.
  8. Once the pork shoulder reaches 190°-195° (~1-1.5 hours per pound), remove from grill and wrap in aluminum foil and allow to rest for 1-3 hours.
  9. Using a knife and 2 forks, shred the pork into finer pieces.
  10. For Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  11. In a small bowl, add pulled pork and barbecue sauce. Mix until pulled pork is well coated. Add a heaping amount of meat on each sandwich.
  12. Top with cole slaw and additional barbecue sauce (optional).

Notes

You will likely have plenty of leftovers! (My philosophy when it comes to smoking meats is the bigger the better. It might take longer to cook larger pieces, but once I've got the smoker going for the day, I don't mind an extra couple hours if it means more delicious smoked meats for later!)

Because this style of cooking takes so long, I recommend making the pulled pork the day before you'd like to serve it. That way, you won't have to rush against the clock to serve it for dinner. (Oh, and the pulled pork freezes quite well, too. So if you have company coming over this weekend, consider making the pulled pork early in the week and throwing it in the freezer for a few days!)

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