Authentic Pork Barbecue Recipe and Technique

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Pork Butt on SmokerSmoky Pork Butt for Pulled Pork Barbecue

Pork is what a real southern barbecue is all about. It's what cookouts are made for.

When done right, the meat is succulent and juicy, smoky and spicy. It’s crispy on the outside yet moist and tender on the inside. It truly is barbecue nirvana.

The most savory, delicious pulled pork can easily be made at home with fresh ingredients and the proper equipment and technique.

Keep reading to see how.

What’s the Secret?

This smoky, pork barbecue recipe is for cooking a pork shoulder or a pork butt as it’s often called. But this method applies to all tough cuts of meat.

You see…pork shoulders are tough, as are most meats that you will barbecue. When you cook a tough piece of meat quickly, it seizes up like a brick and all the juices are squeezed out. The result is a dry, tasteless culinary abomination! Even if you cover it with water and cook it until it's tender, it will still be dry and grainy. The damage, unfortunately, has been done.

But when you cook a tough cut of meat slowly, the connective tissue breaks down and adds richness to the meat. This also makes the meat extremely tender. Cooking slowly also causes the fat to render properly, making the meat juicy and very flavorful.

Now, you can do this in an oven, at about 250°F-300°F. It’s relatively fast and you will get a very tender piece of meat, when all is said and done. Of course, you will not get that great barbecue flavor that comes from cooking with hardwood smoke.

The Barbecue Technique

Traditionally, most cuts of meat that you will barbecue are cooked at 250°F until they reach an internal temperature around 200°F. Barbecue pork is no exception and there are reasons for this;

  • The long, slow cooking time breaks down the connective tissue, making the meat very tender.
  • The meat does not seize up and become dry.
  • The fat is rendered slowly making the meat exceptionally moist on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.
  • Meat picks up more smoke flavor when it is cool and less as it heats up; the lower cooking temperature is what gives barbecue that smoky flavor. This is because the meat stays in contact with the hardwood smoke for an extended period of time at a cooler temperature.

And that, my friend, is part of the reason why barbecue is so lip-smacking delicious!

We will also be using a mop, if appropriate for the type of cooker you’re using, and a technique called the “Texas Crutch”, which is simply wrapping the meat in foil for the last hour or two to make your pulled pork moist and tender.

This pork barbecue recipe is for one Boston butt, but you can easily cook two, and save one for later. Just wrap it in plastic wrap and put your barbecue pork in a Ziploc bag and freeze it. Or better yet, use a Food Saver or similar tool. This device sucks the air out of the bags that are specially made for it and seals them. This process makes fresh and frozen food last up to three times longer than merely placing them in a Ziploc bag.

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Pork Barbecue Recipe

  1.  Rub your pork shoulder with the barbecue rub. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. (If you don’t have the time, or you forgot to rub your butt the night before, apply the rub to the pork shoulder and let it sit until the rub becomes moist and tacky, about an hour or so, at room temperature).
  2.  Remove your pork shoulder from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature while you prepare your smoker for cooking.
  3. Prepare your smoker cooking, bringing the temperature to 250°F.
  4. Place the pork shoulder on your smoker and cook for 1 ½ hours per pound, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Wrap the pork tightly in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil during the last hour to hour and a half of cooking, until the internal temperature reaches 200°F.
  5. Let the pork rest for about an hour.
  6. Pull the meat apart and shred or chop it and serve with the barbecue sauce.

*For a fantastic way to serve your barbecue pork, check out this recipe for pulled pork sandwiches!

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