|Equipment:||Plate Setter, Thermal Probe|
|Set Up:||Indirect w/ Water Pan|
|Dome Temp:||225 – 250F|
|Cook Time:||190F Internal Temp, then check for done-ness with the poke test|
The cook times on pulled pork will vary wildly and depend on how constant the dome temperature is, how big the cut of meat is, and how much fat there is. My longest pulled pork cook lasted a full 17 hours on the Big Green Egg, so plan accordingly. Having a Polder to tell you when the pork hits the proper internal temperature is essential for any long, sustained cook. If you don’t have a Polder, check out my review to learn more about them. Remember, you can’t really know if the meat is done just by temperature. The best way to know if it’s done is by the poke test. Just slide your probe in to the meat, and if there is no resistance the meat is tender. If not, keep on cooking.
Here’s how I slow smoke pulled pork on the Big Green Egg:
Think about when you are going to want to eat and how long it may take (15-20 hours) to cook. Prepare ahead of time, and start smoking earlier rather than later. You can always wrap in foil and keep it in a cooler for 3-4 hours, but trying to get hungry guests to wait a few more hours is another story.
Trim the pork shoulder of any excess fat deposits, but try to leave a layer about 1/8″ thick. Lightly brush the entire pig with olive oil and heavily season with your rub of choice. If you have the time, you can wrap the meat in plastic and store it in the fridge overnight to allow the rub to penetrate a bit. If not, don’t worry, you can put it on the grill the same day and it will still be delicious.
Build a Solid Fire:
My first pulled pork cook lasted 17 hours! You can’t have your fire going out, so don’t skimp on the charcoal. In fact, I recommend cleaning the entire Big Green Egg out and put fresh charcoal in. I used an entire 9 lb bag for my first pork shoulder. Probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.
Don’t Forget the Smoke:
Place a few good chunks of your smoking wood of choice right on top of your pile of charcoal before you start the Egg. For the best smoke absorption, put the pork shoulder on the grill while its still cold and when the Egg is spitting out “Sweet blue.” A nice, subtle smokey flavor is an excellent compliment to tender pork. Fruit woods (apple, pear, etc) are very popular choices when smoking pork.
When you shut the lid of your Big Green Egg, just leave it shut and wait….and wait some more. The internal temperature will slowly rise, then plateau around 150-160F, that’s normal. This is the famous “stall,” and people think all sorts of crazy things are happening to the meat at this point. Most people (including myself, until recently) thought the stall was connective tissue and fat rendering. Yes, these things are happening but that’s not why the meat stalls. The explanation is much simpler than that. The actual answer is “evaporative cooling,” which means the meat is “sweating” and is getting cooled just like when we sweat. Here is a very interesting article that goes into much more detail. Either way, the stall will last a few hours, assuming you don’t open your Egg and then the temperature will start to climb again.
It’s Finally Done:
Several hours after the stall the internal temperature will start rising again. You can start testing for done-ness when the Polder reads 190F. It should be “fall apart” tender (but not mushy), so if it’s not just keep cooking it. During one of my cooks, the shoulder blade literally pulled right out with no resistance. That was some good pulled pork!
Wrap it Up:
Wrap the pork in foil and put it in a cooler for at least 30 minutes to let the juices settle. If you don’t plan on eating for a while longer you can keep it in a cooler for a few hours without any problem.
Set the pork somewhere where it can’t make too much of a mess (casserole dish or similar). Take 2 forks, or some Bear Paws, and go to town on that sucker! Be careful, though, the pork will be extremely hot!
Serve and Enjoy:
Serve your pulled pork on plain white buns for the true barbecue experience. Feel free to add a touch of barbecue sauce (not too much!) and some vinegar based coleslaw. However you eat your pulled pork, I know you will enjoy it!
Do you have a killer pulled pork recipe? Let me know! Questions and comments about my cooking method are always welcomed as well!