Recently, I made pulled pork for the first time and it came out perfect. Despite having some grill temp issues, the pork still came out juicy, tender, and full of flavor. I must have watched a dozen YouTube videos on how to cook a pulled pork on a pellet grill, and searched the web for recipes until I felt I had a good understanding of what to do. Then I took all that knowledge and put it together to create my own recipe for pulled pork which I am sharing with you today.
Foolproof is a bold word, but I have to say, cooking a pork butt (aka boston butt, aka pulled pork) seemed almost foolproof. As I mentioned in my review of my new Traeger Renegade Pro, I was having a hell of a time getting a consistent temp during this 8 1/2 hour cook, but I still had great results. Everything I read said to cook at 225 degrees, so that was the plan. After that I read all kinds of different ways to season the meat, from just salt and pepper, to injecting the meat, to layering rubs, but at the end of the day I decided to pick a rub I have enjoyed on pork in the past and give it a go.
First things first, I used a roughly 8lb bone-in Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder and when I got it home I trimmed up a lot of the excess fat on the outside, leaving just a thin fat cap. Then I liberally dusted the meat with rub, making sure it was completely coated all the way around. I used Meat Mitch Competition WHOMP! Rub because it has a great flavor profile of savory with a little heat, and I knew it worked well on ribs, so I was confident it would be good on another pork product. After that, I let the meat rest while I got the grill ready. I fired up my Traeger to 225 and let it get to temp. Once the grill was ready, I placed my pork butt fat cap side down and put a meat probe in it to monitor the temp. I used a GrillEye Pro+, but you can use any meat probe you want, but you will want to use one, because the key to success with this cook is all about monitoring the temps. You want the pork to get to 160 degrees, than it is time to wrap it.
While waiting for the pork to reach 160, every hour or so I grabbed a spray bottle filled with apple juice and and sprayed the pork for extra moisture. Once the internal temp hit 160 I took the pork out and placed it on some heavy duty aluminum foil. I actually used two large pieces so I could get a nice seal, and I wanted to make sure it was sealed tight because I added about 1 to 1/2 cups of apple juice to the pork in the aluminum foil packet. I made sure to put the probe back in, and continue to monitor the temp until it reached 195-200 degrees.
When you hit that 195-200 degrees, you will want to take the pork off the grill and begin your shut down cycle for the grill. I used my Man Law BBQ High Heat Silicone gloves to remove the foiled pork packet since it was hot, and I placed it on a cookie sheet. I let it rest for about an hour and then it was time to unwrap and shred. The pork was still steaming hot when I unwrapped it, so I made sure to use gloves and some forks to shred it up. You will also want to be careful because the foil will be filled with the apple juice and natural juices that came out of the pork while it rested. At this point, you could take those juices and add it back to the pork, or just discard it. When I removed the pork from the foil, I placed it in a disposable roasting pan to make it easier to shred, but any deep dish you have on hand will work. You will want to remove the bone, and the fat from the fat cap, plus any other big pieces of fat during the shredded process, because that will not be palatable.
Once I had the pork all pulled/shredded all we did was add some BBQ sauce and go to town. It was awesome! The meat was crazy tender and juicy, the bone pulled right out with little to no effort and the meat pulled/shredded apart with ease. We ate this pork for days and each time it seemed to get better. Next time I am going to make a vinegar sauce to pour over the meat as soon as it’s pulled, giving it a more Carolina style taste to it, but really you can do anything you want. It’s sort of a blank canvas, and you can doctor it up to fit your taste buds, or just eat it plain because it’s that good.
What’s your favorite way to eat pulled pork?
- 8lb bone-in Boston Butt (also known as Pork Shoulder/Pork Butt)
- Your favorite rub of choice, I used Meat Mitch Competition WHOMP! Rub
- 2 cups apple juice
- Trim the fat from the pork, leaving the fat cap in tact.
- Liberally rub the pork with your rub of choice.
- While the rub sets, preheat your pellet grill to 225 degrees.
- Once the grill is preheated, place the pork fat cap side down on the grill, and make sure you insert a meat probe so you can monitor the meat temp.
- Every hour or use a spray bottle to spray the pork with some apple juice.
- Once the pork reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees, take it off the grill and wrap it tightly in some heavy duty aluminum foil. You will want to use two sheets to wrap it, and before you close it up completely, add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of apple juice. Place the meat probe back in the same spot you had it before, and seal up the pork nice and tight with the aluminum foil.
- Place the pork back on the grill and wait for it to reach an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees.
- Once it reaches 195-200 degrees, remove it from the grill, shut your grill off, place the pork on a cookie sheet (make sure to use heat resistant gloves when picking up the pork, it’s going to be hot), and let it rest for about an hour.
- After an our, open the foil pack, the pork will still be steaming hot, and with protective gloves, remove the pork from the packet (the packet will be filled with liquid, you can either save the liquid to pour back on the pork, or simply discard it) and place it in a disposable roasting pan, or some other kind of deep dish/pan, remove the bone and begin to pull/shred it. Make sure you remove the fat from the fat cap, and any other large pieces of fat you may find.
- Once it’s all pulled/shredded up, add your favorite sauce, or just go with it plain and enjoy! You can eat it as is, make it into a sandwich, add it to pizza, tacos, even a salad. Use your imagination and do what tastes good to you.