Making Pulled Pork: A comprehensive guide

Pulled pork is very popular. At every festival you will come across a stand that sells pulled pork. It’s also loved by many barbecue lovers. Partly because of the low & slow preparation that comes with it, but also because of the taste. But keep in mind that the quality of the taste can sometimes differ per pulled pork recipe. 

In this article we explain how you can make the perfect pulled pork yourself. Because it’s actually not that difficult to make. Don’t be put off by the long description. It’s just a few simple steps.

What is Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is meat that’s been shredded into thin pieces from a slowly cooked piece of pork. You can make this from different types of meat, such as ham or pig’s head. But mostly it’s made from pork shoulder and neck, especially from the Boston butt.

The Boston butt is the top of the pork shoulder. There’s also a piece of bone in it. There are many speculations as to where this name comes from. Some say that the meat used to be transported in barrels. These barrels were called “butts” by the suppliers. One thing everyone agrees on is that it’s the top of a shoulder. Boston butts can vary from 2.5 to 6 kg.

You can also make pulled pork from a whole pork. You then cook the pork in its entirety, split the meat and mix everything together. This mixes the flavors of the different types of meat and you get a very tasty sandwich.

You can buy a Boston butt that weighs 2.5 kg, but don’t always have the space to cook this whole piece. So you can ask your butcher to cut a piece of, let’s say, 1.5 kg. 

You can buy a 2.5 kg Boston butt over the counter, but you don’t always have the space to cook this whole piece. So you can ask your butcher to cut a piece of about 1.5 kg.

Which marinade is perfect for pulled pork?

A marinade is a tasty mixture of different spices and herbs that you use for the meat. It is best to let the marinade soak in the meat for a few hours, so that it can absorb well into the meat.

There are many different marinades that can be used for pulled pork. The nice thing about this is that you can experiment a lot with it. Pulled pork is often combined with a marinade based on ketchup or tomato paste. Other ingredients are then added to this mixture.

Of course it’s very nice to make the marinade yourself, but there are also countless ready-made marinades for sale. It may sound simple, but just take a look at the ingredients in the marinade and decide which one you like.

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Pulled Pork marinade

Prep time5 minutes
marineren4 hours
Author: Cultiviz
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 dl tomato ketchup
  • 1 dl white wine vinegar
  • 1 dl broth preferably chicken
  • 50 gr sugar
  • 1 tbsp French mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme dried or finely chopped
  • 1 onion cut into rings

Instructions

  • Mix the tomato ketchup with the white wine vinegar, stock, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder and thyme. Stir well.
  • Then add the onion to the mixture and stir once more.
  • Place the meat in a sealable bag and add the marinade. Rub the marinade well over the meat and let it marinate for 4 hours.

Which dry rub is suitable?

If you don’t use a marinade, you can use a dry rub. That is a dry spice mixture with a mix of spices and herbs. You use a dry rub purely for the taste. By rubbing this mixture well into the meat, the flavorings adhere well to the meat.

A dry rub often gives you a crispier crust due to the salt it contains. However, this salt also removes moisture from the surface of the meat. That’s why it’s not recommended to rub the pulled pork with a dry rub long in advance.

The same applies to making dry rub as for the marinade. There are many of these and you can easily make them yourself. Below is a recipe for a dry rub that we have made ourselves.

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Pulled Pork dry rub

Author: Cultiviz
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Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp spicy smoked paprika powder

Instructions

  • Put the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and paprika powder in a small bowl and mix everything together.
  • Season the meat with this mixture and rub it in with your fingers.

Inject or not?

In several pulled pork recipes, the meat is injected beforehand. Try this method and decide what you like best. The pork shoulder is tender and juicy enough on its own. You can also mix half of your dry rub with apple cider and inject it into the meat. Make sure the meat doesn’t taste too much like the apple cider.

Which sauce goes well with pulled pork?

A sauce is optional. You can add this afterwards when the pulled pork is served. You can provide the meat with sauce in its entirety or leave this to your guest.

As for the sauces, there are also many different sauces to choose from. Just experiment with it and determine what you think would pair well with your chosen marinade or dry rub. A traditional barbecue sauce often goes well with pulled pork.

How do you combine pulled pork?

Pulled pork is usually eaten with bread. This can be toasted bread or a sandwich. Add some lettuce and salad and enjoy your meal.

What else goes well with pulled pork:

  • BBQ sweet potatoes
  • Coleslaw
  • A homemade salad

What do you need?

Since pulled pork requires a low & slow preparation, you need a barbecue that can grill indirectly. You have to be able to grill for a long time at a low temperature. This works well on a kamado, but also on a smoker or cone barbecue.

Other supplies

Charcoal

Use charcoal that burns for a long time. This way you don’t have to add coal every half hour. Charcoal from Black Ranch is well suited for this.

Wood chips or blocks

Pulled pork is very tasty if you smoke the meat. Wood chips or logs based on hickory or oak are often used for this. But wood chips with a fruity flavor, such as apple or cherry, also work well.

Meat claws

Since you will be “shredding” the meat, you will need tools to do so. There are so-called meat claws on the market that help you with this. They’re not expensive and are certainly handy. If you don’t have them, it’s certainly not a disaster. You can just do this with two forks.

Meat thermometer

A meat thermometer is a must-have for every grill master. This allows you to keep a close eye on the meat so it can never go wrong.

How to cook pulled pork?

You cook pulled pork by slowly cooking it. There are various devices for this, but the barbecue is our number one. The tenderness and the delicious smoky flavor cannot be matched by any other device. It can be done with a kamado, such as the Big Green Egg, or with a smoker. As long as the barbecue can grill indirectly.

It’s almost impossible to fail a pulled pork. This is because the meat remains very tender. This makes it an ideal recipe for anyone starting out with smoking meat and low & slow barbecuing.

Procureur
Pulled Pork dry rub
Pulled Pork bbq

How much pulled pork do you need per person?
How much you will make depends on various factors: man/woman, age, other side dishes and so on. What you have to take into account is that the meat will shrink by 30%. That’s because of the bone (in case of a boston butt) and excess fat that you remove when you shred the meat. We usually use about 500 grams before cooking the meat.

In addition, pulled pork can be used in different types of recipes. If you have any leftovers, you can easily freeze it and use it again for another recipe.

Important to know: the “stall”
When you cook the meat, the temperature will continue to stagnate at some point. It can even go down. This process is called the “stall” and can take a while. The stalling usually occurs at a core temperature of 70 – 80 ℃ of the meat.

During this process moisture is formed on the top of the meat due to the evaporation. You may even see a puddle of fluid. The meat will then sweat. This evaporation allows the meat to cool down.

Don’t let the “stall” scare you. You can speed it up by applying the Texas Crutch method that’s described below. You can also just be patient and keep waiting. The temperature will automatically rise again.

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Pulled Pork dry rub

Author: Cultiviz
Save

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp spicy smoked paprika powder

Instructions

  • Put the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and paprika powder in a small bowl and mix everything together.
  • Season the meat with this mixture and rub it in with your fingers.

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