I've made pulled pork a couple of times. One version was made in a slow cooker, with bottled BBQ sauce, it was fast and simple (I might blog that one during the winter). In 2004, I watched Emeril Lagasse make this very pulled pork recipe in the oven, with pretty good results-- still it was missing that wonderful smokiness that reminds my husband of his home state of Missouri. I really like Emeril's barbecue sauce, and I've made it a few times for other cuts of grilled meats. My husband loves pulled pork, and I wanted to make this recipe again, since it was tried & true. After weeks of overcast skies, and temperatures hovering in the mid-60's, we finally had a sunny and warm weekend. I decided that I would use the oven to make homemade sandwich buns, and I wondered if I was ready to attempt adapting this recipe for a Weber grill. I've read several articles on how to turn a Weber into a smoker, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to tend a Weber grill for several hours. It seemed so complicated!
Steven Raichlen had in this excellent cookbook that I bought a few years ago. This book gives step-by-step photos on how to grill just about anything. I asked Craig if he'd be willing to babysit the Weber grill, while I got busy making the cole slaw, barbecue sauce and rolls. Craig is a bit insecure about cooking, but he sat down and read the instructions on making North Carolina Style Pulled Pork (which uses more of a vinegar-based mop sauce. We prefer more of a tomato-based barbecue sauce, so I stuck with Emeril's recipe, but let this book show the two of us how to grill pulled pork. The process took about 4 hours, and I'm going to share with you how to prepare the grill, make the seasoning mix, the sauce and the end results. First, you need to make the rub:
(I will post the printable recipe to this seasoning at the very bottom of this page.) I make a batch of this seasoning for the rub, as part of the barbecue sauce components and the rest is perfect for Red Beans & Rice or any kind of creole dish you like. Why buy this, when you probably have all the spices on hand? You need paprika, kosher salt, black pepper, onion, powder, cayenne, dried oregano and dried thyme.
Whoops, I forgot to add the garlic powder! Set aside 2 tsp. of this seasoning mix for the barbecue sauce.
Measure about 4 tsp. of the seasoning, 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Rub-a-dub-dub the pork (this piece weighed about 4 pounds). Store the remaining seasoning in an airtight container. Get the grill ready. NOTE: If you don't have a grill, I will give you instructions on ow to make this in an oven. It's printed on the recipe card at the very bottom of this page. Basically, you cover the pork with foil and roast it for several hours.
We never use lighter fluid. Ever. A charcoal chimney starter works very well, with just a bit of newspaper at the bottom. Light the briquettes and these looks ready to go! Craig has soaked some cherry wood chips (we have different flavors). Craig placed two foil pans in middle of the grill. The coals are placed on one side of the Weber.
A little wipe of vegetable oil and the grill is getting nice and hot.
Craig adds the chips on top of the charcoals, he places the pork on top of the foil pan(s) and closes the covers, with the vents about 3/4 open. Smoke! I start making the barbecue sauce:
Six cloves of garlic, minced...
You'll need paprika, dry mustard, kosher salt, crushed red pepper, black pepper and cayenne pepper...
...and the two teaspoons of the Creole Seasoning that we made for the pork rub...
"Mis en place" helps to make this sauce come together quickly. Here are the ingredients (above).
In a medium non-reactive saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the butter and, when melted, add the onions and cook until they are very soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, Essence, ground mustard, salt, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to brown.
Add the water, cider vinegar, and dark brown sugar, and stir to combine. NOTE: This sauce is very versatile-- add less vinegar, if that is your preference. Reduce the brown sugar, if you prefer less sweet. Add some, and you can always add more!
Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have come together, about 15 to 20 minutes. I love this sauce! At first, you might find the sauce is a bit acidic (provided you haven't reduced the cider vinegar). However, the heat starts to build on your tongue and I think it's perfect with pork. So, how's that pork looking one hour later?
You can see that the fat is starting to drip and there is a crust forming. There is no need to move the meat.
Craig adds a few more briquettes, and some chips and covers the meat again. This goes on every hour, by the way.
Three hours later... the smell is making us crazy with wanting to taste this.
I've made Creamy Cole Slaw (recipe will be coming on the next post)...
Homemade sandwich buns are cooling...
The moment of truth... Grillmaster "Craig" removes the pork 4 1/2 hours later...
Craig puts on protective gloves and pulls... it's hot!
See that red? That's from the smoke. The pork is very crusty on the outside...
Craig prefers using two forks to pull the pork... it's incredibly moist. That fat on the bottom is crunchy... it's full of flavor.
Craig and I are so pleased with the results. We are so ready to enjoy the pork. I already know I must make this again... soon...
I eat mine with pork, slaw and sauce. Craig likes his slaw on the side. It doesn't matter. It's just plain good-- off the hook good! Whether you make just the pork...or just the barbecue sauce... or both-- I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. If you don't own a Weber, you can use the oven. My next attempt will be to make brisket, using this same technique. It so works!
All of these recipes are at the very bottom of this post. I'm so happy that Monterey, California is finally seeing sunshine and warmer weather. I feel for those of you who are living in sweltering heat. Come West! I do feel blessed.
I am very proud of my husband, who read the instructions and did a great job with the grill. See? Anyone can learn to cook!