I like pulled pork and have made it since I got my smoker. The Louisiana Grills Pellet Smoker makes it even easier. However, I had never tried injecting my pork before smoking it. I have read that a lot of champion pit masters do so, I decided to give it a try. Welcome to Mountain Pulled Pork.
First, let me tell you that I always make pulled pork the day before I serve it. The reason for this is that there is no accurate way to say how long it will take for the pork to cook to pulling consistency. I have had a nine to ten pound roast take between 9 and 16 hours. The roast is ready when it is ready and there is no way to predict the cooking time.
Make the pork the day before and reheat it to serve. It just makes life easier.
I had found a 4 kilogram (9 1/2 pound) pork picnic shoulder roast for a reasonable price. You can also use a pork butt roast.
Using a very sharp knive, I slowly cut the skin off by lifting the edge of the skin and pulling the knife along the skin.
I mixed the injection liquid ingredients together. Using a meat injector, I put 1/2 of the liquid into the roast but pushing the needle in every one inch and slowly pressing the plunger as I pull it out. There is always a bit of leakage so put the roast in a pan before you start.
Flip the roast over and inject the other side with the remaining liquid.
Use your favourite barbecue rub. I used Louisiana Grills Smokey Spicy Sweet Hot. Rub it generously into the surface of the pork.
Put 1 cup of apple juice in a roasting pan and put the roast on a rack over it. Let it sit on the counter while you set up and preheat your smoker to 240 F.
When the smoker is up to heat, put the pork in.
After 5 hours, check the internal temperature. If it is over 140 F, put another cup of apple juice in the roasting pan. Wrap the pan and roast with foil. You can keep it going in the smoker at 240 F but it will not get any more smoke flavour as it is foiled. If it is cool or cold outside, I finish my pork in a 240 F oven. Why pay to heat the outdoors?
If it is hot and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen, I put it back in the smoker. As it was cool, I brought it in and put it in the oven.
A probe thermometer you can read outside of the smoker or oven like my BlueTherm Duo is a great help. You put the probe in and it lets you keep track of the internal temperature of the meat without having to open the door and keep probing.
The roast cooked along nicely until it got to 177 F. I hit a phenomenon called the stall. The internal temperature of the roast just doesn’t go up and can even drop a little. In this case, it lasted for hours.
What you are looking for is an internal temperature of 190 F. I’d put my roast in the smoker at 10 AM. I foiled it at 3 AM and it took until midnight to get to 190 F.
When you get to 190 F, it does not mean the roast is done. It means it is time to start probing. Take a bamboo skewer and press the point into the roast. If it goes in very easily, almost like butter, the roast is ready. I do this test at every 5 degrees after 190 F.
When I probed at 195 F, it was perfect.
I took the roast out of the oven and let it sit under the foil for an hour. Then I took the foil off the pan and took the roast out. The roast will want to fall apart and the bone will just pull out.
Use two forks to shred the meat. Any areas of fat will easily pull off. A word of warning here. If you sneak a piece of the bark (the dark meat from the outside of the roast) you will find it is like potato chips, you can’t eat just one. You may end up eating all the bark and your guests won’t get any. Try and leave some.
Cover the pulled pork and put in the fridge.
The next day, I weighed out 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds) of the pork to serve at dinner. This enough for four large appetites. The rest of the pork went into sealed containers to be frozen for future sandwiches. Dang, I want one right now.
I mixed up the ingredients from the finishing sauce and tossed it with the meat for dinner. I put the pork into a covered casserole and reheated it in a 250 F over for an hour and a half.
Serve this with a barbecue sauce if you like. I serve it just the way it is with some barbecue sauce on the table.
I will be injecting all my pulled pork from now on. It gives the pork more complexity and a background sweetness that is divine! My buddy who came for dinner said it was better than my earlier efforts too. Give it a try!
The Old Fat Guy
Addendum: A video of me making pulled pork has been included in my community TV show, You Can Make It. Here is the YouTube version.
- 4 kg (9 to 10 pounds) pork shoulder or butt roast
- 500 ml (2 cups) apple juice
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) barbecue rub of your choice
- Injecting Liquid:
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) apple juice
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) water
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Worcestershire sauce
- Finishing Sauce
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) cider vinegar
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) maple syrup
- 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) black pepper
- 1/2 ml (1/8 teaspoon) cayenne
- Cut the skin off the roast.
- Mix the injecting liquid together.
- Put the roast in a pan.
- Inject about 1 inch apart on both sides of the roast.
- Rub all surfaces of the roast with the rub.
- Put 250 ml (1 cup) of the apple juice in a roast pan and put the pork on a rack above it.
- Leave the roast on the counter while preheating your smoker to 240 F.
- Put the roast in the smoker for 5 hours. Make sure the internal temperature is above 140 F.
- Add the remaining apple juice to the roasting pan.
- Put the roast in the pan and cover with foil.
- Either return to the smoker or put in a 240 F oven.
- Cook until the internal temperature is 190 F. This can take between four and nine hours.
- Push a bamboo skewer into the roast. If it goes in very easily, the roast is done. If there is resistance, continue cooking.
- Check with the skewer every increase of five degrees of internal temperature until it goes in without resistance.
- Take the roast out of the oven and leave in the foil. Let it rest for one hour.
- Take the roast out of the pan. It will tend to fall apart.
- Use two forks to remove any fat and shred the pork.
- Cover the pork and refrigerate until two hours before serving.
- Measure out 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds) of pork. This is enough to serve four.
- Freeze the remaining pork for future sandwiches.
- Mix the finishing sauce ingredients.
- Toss the 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds) of pork with the finishing sauce.
- Put the pork in a covered casserole and reheat in a 250 F oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- Serve with barbecue sauce on the table if desired.