Pulled pork is the ultimate low-and-slow barbecue dish, and when you do it right, it's melt in your mouth perfection. But how do you make sure your pulled pork is the succulent dish of your dreams? It's all about choosing the right cut of meat.
What Are Your Options?
Assuming you're not planning to dig a pit and roast a whole hog any time soon, you'll need a cut of pork for grilling. The best choice is a pork shoulder, which will give you more than enough meat to go around. These can be hard to find unless you go to a specialty butcher. If you don’t see pork shoulder at your local grocery, the next best thing is a cut called the Boston butt. This cut is sometimes also called pork butt, but – confusingly – it doesn't come from the pig's lower half at all. A pork butt is just a strange name for half of the shoulder. A picnic shoulder (or picnic roast) is the other half, and it will also work in a pinch.
The whole point with low and slow cooking is that you want a nice, fatty cut of pork. The shoulder has good marbling and will stay moist and tender for hours as you cook it. Pork chops don’t work for this, because they're too lean and dry in even the best circumstances.
Cooking Pulled Pork
At BBQ Island, pulled pork means pulling out the smoker. Sure, it's possible to braise a pork shoulder in the oven or a slow cooker and shred it up with Bear Paws and add some barbecue sauce, but where's the fun in that? For maximum flavor, we recommend smoking your pork butt with a pellet smoker. These beauties offer lots of control over the heat and a range of flavors depending on the wood pellets you choose. Gas smokers are also good options if you've got one in your outdoor kitchen.
No matter what you use for smoking, set aside a day for the job, then serve your juicy, smoky pulled pork on a bun with some slaw for a classic treat.