Low and slow makes this pulled pork incredibly tender
In today's "Home with the Lost Italian," Sarah Nasello shares how to make an unforgettable family meal.
My brother, Joe Anstett, is a true barbecue enthusiast and the pitmaster of our family. My sister-in-law, Sarah, is an excellent cook, and I’ve shared several of her specialties with you in past columns, including her signature Cincinnati Chili and Comforting Mac N’ Cheese .
Last Sunday, they put their talents together to produce an unforgettable family meal featuring Smoked Pulled Pork Butt with two different Carolina barbecue sauces.
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Several years ago, Joe acquired a ceramic charcoal barbecue cooker and our meals together have never been the same. This recipe is specifically geared toward fellow barbecue enthusiasts who are equipped with a grill that can hot-smoke meats, like a Big Green Egg or Traeger grill.
Joe’s recipe calls for one 8- to 10-pound, bone-in pork butt. Hot-smoking cooks the meat over low heat ranging from 215 to 250 degrees, over a long period of time, anywhere from 12 to 16 hours, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees.
Low and slow cooking allows the heavy cover of fat on the pork butt to break down and flavor the meat as it cooks. The result is meat that is incredibly tender, juicy and shreds easily from the bone.
Before cooking the pork butt, Sarah covered the entire piece of meat with a blend of two seasonings from the Meat Church BBQ brand (both the Fajita and Honey Hot Hog mixes), which can be found locally at Scheels Home & Hardware.
You can use any kind of rub you like, but these seasonings gave the pulled pork terrific flavor without overpowering the pork itself.
Once the pork butt is done cooking, it is removed from the grill, wrapped in aluminum foil and left to rest for at least an hour before shredding to ensure that the pork is as juicy as possible.
Joe uses an insulated cooler to rest the meat, where it can be held for up to three hours and still retain its heat.
To shred the meat, Sarah used a pair of meat claws, but two large forks will also work.
Watching her, I marveled at how easily the smoked pork pulled away from the bone. Most of the fat had melted away as the meat cooked, making it easy to identify and discard pieces that had not dissolved.
One of Joe’s favorite resources for learning how to grill and smoke meats is “The Barbecue Bible” by Steven Raichlen, a five-time recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award.
Last Sunday, we enjoyed Joe’s pulled pork between large hunks of French bread with two unique and delicious barbecue sauces from Raichlen’s repertoire: Lexington (N.C.) Vinegar Sauce, and South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce.
While it was pretty much a toss-up between the two Carolina sauces, our verdict on the pulled pork was unanimous: More, please.
We wish you a happy, safe and delicious Fourth of July weekend!
Joe’s Smoked Pulled Pork Butt
PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe
Serves: 10 to 12
One 8-10-pound bone-in pork butt roast (aka pork shoulder)
Meat Church BBQ Fajita seasoning (or your favorite BBQ seasoning blend)
Meat Church BBQ Honey Hog Hot seasoning
Heat your grill/smoker to 215 degrees.
Place the pork butt on a large baking sheet or cutting board and use a paper towel to pat it down all over, to remove excess liquid and any bone fragments.
Cover the entire roast (top, bottom and sides) with a light sprinkling of the fajita seasoning (about 3 tablespoons). Next, rub a generous coating of the Honey Hog Hot seasoning (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) over the entire roast until the texture resembles thick, wet sand.
Place the seasoned pork butt on the center of the hot grill, fat side up. Close the cover and let smoke, low and slow, for about 12 to 16 hours, until the exterior bark is dark and richly caramelized, and the internal temperature of the meat has reached 205 degrees.
The meat can reach an internal temperature between 145 to 160 in as little 3 hours and then stall for several hours before climbing up again, which is a normal stage of the smoking process. It is critical to have a good meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat often (every 30 to 45 minutes). Once the temperature reaches 165 degrees, it will slowly continue to climb.
Remove the pork butt from the grill when it has reached 205 degrees. Wrap the entire roast in aluminum foil and let rest for at least an hour before serving. To keep the pork as hot as possible, it can be stored in an insulated cooler for 2 to 3 hours before serving and will still be piping hot once removed.
Use meat claws or 2 large forks to pull the pork into shreds (sized to your preference), removing any obvious fatty pieces as needed. The meat will fall away easily from the bone, which should be discarded once it is cleaned of meat.
Serve as is or mix with your favorite barbecue sauce. Perfect for sandwiches, tacos and burritos. Leftover pulled pork may be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for several days.
South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Dijon mustard
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s), add more to taste
½ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the mustard, brown sugar, vinegar and hot sauce. Add the water and let simmer (stirring occasionally), uncovered, until thick and richly flavored, about 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper; taste and add more seasoning as desired.
Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce may be made up to 1 week and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from "The Barbecue Bible" by Steven Raichlen.
Lexington (N.C.) Vinegar Sauce
2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon hot sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 ½ teaspoons of your favorite rub seasoning (we use Meat Church Hot Honey Hog seasoning)
½ cup water
Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl or large jar, and whisk or shake vigorously until the sugar and salt dissolve.
The sauce may be made in advance and stored in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Bring to room temperature and shake well before serving.
Adapted from "The Barbecue Bible" by Steven Raichlen.
Recipe Time Capsule:
This week in...
- 2019: Red, White & Blue Caprese Salad
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- 2017: Grilled Watermelon with Gorgonzola & Prosciutto
- 2016: Savory Sweet Corn Pancakes
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- 2014: Corn Hummus
- 2013: Grilled Bison with Salmoriglio & Chimichurri Sauces
Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.