Ultimate Guide to Pulled Pork
Spring is well and truly here and we have American BBQ on our mind, and what better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring and Summer by cooking up a storm with friends and family. Pulled pork has been a staple in Southern American cooking, where chefs have been perfecting the art of BBQ for decades. The process of cooking pork low and slow was created when Spanish settlers arrived in the United States. Smokey fires were built and maintained below game (meat) to preserve it and keep bugs away, and the first style of BBQ was created. Over time different methods, and meats evolved the process to what it is today. If you are looking for an easy, inexpensive, big meal that satisfies many, it’s time to master pulled pork!
Let’s start with perhaps the most essential part. The cut of pork you choose for this process will undoubtedly set you up for great success or somewhat disappointment. When compared to other much leaner, drier and richer cuts of pork, the shoulder reigns supreme, with its optimal fat content and ability to be broken down slowly over low heat, whilst still retaining all of its tender, moist qualities. The butt, is the upper part of the shoulder and is renowned as the top pick for pulled pork. Bone In or Bone Out? Well that’s up to you, however we love the bone in as it usually helps to retain a beautiful moist end product.
No Fire Handy? Thats Okay!
If you’re like us, you probably don’t have access to a fire pit or an industrial sized smoker. However, thanks to numerous advances in the home chef space, we can achieve the same results in the comfort of our own kitchen. Yes, a simple slow cooker, basic oven or even a BBQ will do the trick. Remember, low and slow is the trick.
Season your pork!
The shoulder is a juicy cut of pork, filled with connective tissue and fat. When cooked in this low and slow style it will break down nicely creating delicious, pull apart pork. However, it’s common knowledge that we can make anything better by adding a dry rub or marinade. In this case, the pork will have plenty of moisture, so a dry rub is your best bet. When in doubt, opt for equal parts brown sugar, salt and smoked paprika for a classic crowd favorite. If time isn’t on your side, hunt at your local supermarkets for ready to go seasonings like Jerk, Cajun and Southern Style rubs. A little trick with the rub, try searing all sides of the pork in a non-stick pan before applying the rub.
Lets get cooking.
Let’s start with a very general rule. Two hours per kilogram, on a very low heat, around 140C, or the low feature on your slow cooker. If using your oven, place the pork on a wire rack, inside a baking dish and fill the bottom of the dish with water. Wrap the whole thing tight in foil to keep all the good moisture locked in while it sizzles away. Follow your slow cooker recommendations based on the size of the cut you are cooking, however typically, the slow cooker will take an extra hour or two. It’s easy to know when it’s ready, just pull apart with two forks, following the string of the meat and voila! Pork not pulling? It’s not done! Put it back in and be patient, it will eventually start to pull. GIve yourself plenty of time to let this process happen to avoid dry or tough pork. For extra flavour and moisture use the pan juices when pulling, to mix in and create a flavor sensation. If it’s still too dry, adding a bit of BBQ sauce is always the best bet.
It’s time to get out there and get cooking. The possibilities are endless with this amazing, versatile and delicious dish. Think, pulled pork sliders, loaded fries, burritos, nachos and much more! With a solid chunk of time and a good recipe, pulled pork is the optimal BBQ friendly food, just set and forget, and come back to a delicious meal, ready to go!
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