We kick of with a Pork Butt, roughly 4kg in weight. Most Pulled Pork recipes call for a bone in pork shoulder, also known as a Boston Butt or Pork Butt. All of these are the exact same cut of pork. None of them actually come from the butt end of the pig (which can definitely be confusing), but from the upper part of the shoulder. The pork butt, or pork shoulder, has many overlapping and hard working muscle groups that are bound together with tight connective tissue. That tight tissue makes this cut particularly well suited for smoking. It would be very difficult to simply slice and serve a pork shoulder roast that wasn’t cooked low and slow to break down those tight muscles and connective fibers. You’d end up chewing for a long time and not getting anywhere. By using the low and slow process of cooking those tissues begins to break down, tenderize, and create amazing strands of super succulent smoked pork shoulder.
Thankfully there's not much prep required for Pulled Pork. I like to remove all the hard fat from the top of the butt. the remaining fat will render down and keep the meat moist and succulent. There won't be much fat to remove from the underside of the butt. Just remove any hanging or loose meat from around the cut. If you prefer to inject, this is the time to do it. A mix of apple juice and apple cider works well as an injection. To keep things simple I have not injected.
The night before, spray the butt lightly with a good olive oil , this helps the rub stick to the meat. You can also rub with American Mustard prior to rubbing. Rub generously all over with your preferred rub. I am using Lanes Sweet Heat rub for today's tutorial. Pork is a rather bland cut so you can be a little more generous with the rub.
Preheat your smoker to 250 - 275F (at grate level) and place butt in smoker. This went on at 8.00am. I like to lightly sprinkle the pork again with rub just prior to placing into the smoker. My fire consisted of a Charcoal bed of Clean Heat Charcoal at start up with the gradual adding of Ironbark to form a hot bed of embers. When at temp I added one chunk of Pecan and one chunk of Macadamia into the firebox. Once the Fruitwood smoke expired I added the same again. I continue to do this for the first 3hrs of the cook. Pecan wood is stronger than most fruit wood, but is ideal for this cook as it infuses a nice nutty flavour to any cut of meat. Macadamia gives a mild nutty and sweet smoke flavour to meat and is my go to wood for any Pork cook ups.
2 hours in. At the 2hr mark I like to lightly spritz my pork every 45mins until wrapping time. I spritz with a mix of 80% apple juice and 20% apple cider vinegar. The cool liquid from the spritz cools the outside surface of the meat which helps to prevent it from drying out and becoming stringy. Because the surface is slightly cooled by the liquid being spritzed on it, any sugars in the rub are also cooled down which helps to prevent the rub from turning black
5hrs in (1pm). A great indication that your pork is ready to wrap is when the fat on top splits (as seen in this pic). We have a great colour from the rub and spritz and it is still moist and has taken on the smoke from the Pecan and Macadamia. Probing indicated 165F in the centre (which is perfect)
Wrapping time! Using a thick aluminium foil, tear 2 strips big enough to wrap the pork tightly. Fold up the edges of the foil and place approx. a third of a cup of the spritz around the perimeter of the pork (do not pour over the top of the cut) and drizzle agave syrup (or honey) over the top of the pork. Wrap tightly and place back into smoker.
8.25hrs in (4:15pm), butt has reached an internal temp of 195F (probe tender). Remove from smoker, leave in foil and wrap with a large beach towel and place in an esky to rest for at least 2hrs) After 2hrs rest, remove from foil and place in foil tray with any remaining juice (as per pic) You're ready to pull!
Shred the pork into nice bite sized portions using either 2 forks, bear claws or your hands (be sure to have cotton gloves under your latex gloves to ensure you don't get burnt!). Letting the pork rest will ensure all the meat retains its moisture and will not become dry. I serve as per pic and guests can add any sauce/s they wish prior to eating.
Total time from placing into smoker to eating - 10.50hrs. A 4kg Pork Butt will feed approx. 10-12 guests.