Hi everyone – it’s Stefan: husband to the wonderful Tiffany who runs this blog, loving father of Mackenzie and the trusty grill master around here. I love grilling and barbecuing and at some time or another pretty much anything that is edible has found its way onto my grill. Well, actually I have to backtrack, I have yet to grill a pizza on the Weber.
This is the first of hopefully many installments of “Tales from the Grill,” and I am very touched that Tiffany has asked me to be a regular contributor to No Ordinary Homestead in my very own column. I have to admit I am a bit nervous about posting on this blog – so far this honor has been bestowed on me only once, for Mackenzie’s birthday letter when Tiffany was still immobile from the car accident. Please comment down below on how wonderful you think this column is to convince Tiffany that she has made the right decision to “hire” me. Come on – you know you want to!
Now without stalling any longer, today we will be tackling the subject of Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I woke up yesterday morning and knew that we needed to throw something on our trusty Ugly Betty smoker. While walking the dog, this idea kept growing and I had some serious hankering for BBQ. Never needing much convincing, the rest of the family was quickly on board with the idea. On the way to the local butcher we settled on pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches. Once that goal was achieved, we made a quick trip to the farmer’s market and we even had all the veggies we would need for sides, too.
The secret to making the perfect pulled pork is to take your sweet time. If you rush it, you will fail. There are many variables that can make or break your bbq experience for this type of dish but rushing it will definitely cause results you won’t be happy with. This slow motion type cooking already starts when you prepare your meat. While you can get away with dry rubbing your meat in as little as 2 or 3 hours. it really is best to start a day ahead of time. The pork shoulder in the pictures was dry rubbed with mustard and dry rub mix a full 24 hours before this piece of meat ended up on the smoker.
Pulled Pork Rub Dry Rub Recipe
Mix together the following ingredients in a mixing bowl:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Paprika
- 2 tblsp coarse Salt (sea or kosher)
- 2 tblsp Black Pepper
- 1 tblsp Cayenne Pepper
- 4 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Thyme Powder
- 2 tsp Sage
- 2 tsp Coriander Powder
When you have finished the dry mixture its time to get it onto the meat. First you should coat the meat with either yellow mustard or olive oil. This helps the spices stick better to the meat.
Next liberally coat the meat with the rub mixture, no need to massage the spices in - thoroughly coating is enough.
When all of the sides have been rubbed its time to wrap the meat in plastic foil (or place it in a reusable contained) and keep it in the fridge until about an hour before the meat is ready to go on the grill. I usually rub my meats 24 hours before it goes on the smoker but even just 2 to 3 hours is also ok.
One quick note on dry rubbing with yellow mustard – don’t worry, there won’t be a flavor overload from the mustard as the taste will mostly vanish during the smoking process. What the mustard will do however is make a very lovely meat surface and work great to hold the dry rub mix close to the meat.
Prepare your smoker and get your tools ready. I use a home built smoker we dubbed “Ugly Betty” – and yes, she truly is ugly. Our smoker uses charcoal but that is simply a personal preference. I am sure gas works just fine if you prefer it. The perfect temperature for smoking pulled pork sandwiches is 225°F (107°C). I like to use hickory wood for smoke flavor; while heating your smoker soak about 3 handfulls of wood chips in water. Sprinkle the soaked wood across your coals just before the meat is ready to go on.
Pork shoulder takes a while to cook – figure roughly 1 to 1.25 hours for each pound of meat. Therefore a 5-pound shoulder piece will take a little over 5 hours. Place the meat in the center of the grate and let it smoke, making sure the temperature doesn’t vary too much from the 225 degree Fahrenheit sweetspot throughout the cooking time.
About one hour before your meat is finished place the meat inside some aluminum foil, this step is not necessary but it will prevent the meat from taking on too much of a smoked flavor. The meat is finished once it hits an internal temperature of 200°F (97°C), not a moment sooner. Remove the meat from the smoker and let it rest inside its foil pack for at least 30 minutes. The meat needs this time to redistribute all the juices which may have leaked out during the smoking process.
After 30 minutes, open the foil packet and start pulling the meat. The easiest way to do this is to cut the piece of meat in the middle and using two forks gently shredding it. The individual pieces should simply come apart.
Stack the meat on a hamburger (or even better hoagie) rolls, drizzle with your favorite BBQ Sauce and enjoy.
Perfect side dishes for this meal included cole slaw, smoked corn on the cob and french fries. Serve some more BBQ Sauce on the side and enjoy! One final tip: Put some cole slaw right on top of the meat in the sandwich – it’s heavenly!
There you have it folks – the first installment of my very own column on this blog. Please comment below if you liked it (or hated it). Is there anything grilling and barbeque related you would like to read here in the future?