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My pulled pork vs their's

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have been smoking at home using charcoal and wood chunks to smoke my meat. I have cooked on a Mini-WSM, Weber with a Slow N Sear (my current favorite way to smoke), a Pit Barrel Cooker, and several electric smokers with AMAZN Pellets. I have cooked plenty of pulled pork this way. I have tried everything from injecting it with apple juice to switching up different rubs. The bark always has good flavor but the inside of the butt is always roast tasting without much flavor.


Whenever I go to a BBQ restaurant, I am going to use Sonny's and 4Rivers in this comparison, I get pulled pork just to compare it with what I have been cooking. I don't add any sauces to the meat until I have at least tried it. Both of these places have told me they use Oak to smoke their wood. I also have no doubt they are using stick burners of some high quality.


At Sonny's the meat no matter which bite I take always has a sweet flavor to it even without any BBQ sauce added by me.

At 4Rivers the meat also has a good flavor that taste nothing like the roast flavor I get.


What gives? Is a stick burner going to add that much flavor to the core of the meat? Are they using a finishing sauce before serving? Thanks for the help in helping me understand how to up my BBQ game.

post #2 of 5
Yes, a wood smoker will produce much more flavor than anything else. That's just the nature of the cooker. Also, you're spot on. They are probably using a light finishing sauce so that folks will get a taste of what they perceive as a BBQ taste from the very beginning.

If you are cooking on a WSM, try using some good wood splits on the charcoal. Also try Royal Oak lump for your charcoal bed and not a pressed briquette with the associated taste problems that are built in from the manufacturing.

Give it a try, good luck, Joe.
post #3 of 5

Joe nailed it...Finishing Sauce. The smoke flavor on the bark is mixed in well and the thin finishing sauce gives additional flavor and moistness without needing a thick heavy BBQ Sauce, unless the customer adds it. In N. Carolina the finishing sauces are AC Vinegar with Red Pepper Flakes for heat, a little Sugar for balance and often a bit of Ketchup in the Lexington area. S.Carolina adds Mustard to the ACV. Other areas use a sweeter finishing sauce as I suspect you have tasted. Below are my two recipes that are popular around here. The first is Sweet and the second Tangy. Some guys, including myself add ACV to the sweet one. Others add more Sugar, Honey, Etc to the tangy one to their taste. Give them a try and doctor to your liking...JJ


Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce


Foiling Juice


For each Rack of Ribs Combine:


1T Pork Rub, yours

1/2 Stick Butter

1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

1T Molasses


Optional: 2T Apple Cider Vinegar. Add 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more of a KC Glaze.


Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.


For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork: Make a Double batch, skip the Butter.


If you plan to Foil the meat, add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten, the meat should be shiny and juicy but not swimming in sauce. Serve while hot...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

If you choose to Not Foil or Pan the Butt. Add the Finishing Sauce to the pulled meat before serving. Add the hot Finishing Sauce a little at a time until the Pork is moistened, again the meat should be shiny but not swimming in sauce.

When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.


I was AMAZED...No additional sauce needed. ENJOY...JJ


Tangy Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce


This is more of an Eastern North Carolina style Finishing Sauce...


2 C Apple Cider Vinegar

2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste

1/4C Brown Sugar

1T Smoked Paprika

2 tsp Granulated Garlic

2 tsp Granulated Onion

2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper

1 tsp Celery Salt

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flake. Add more if you like Heat.

1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice


Combine all and whisk well. This is a thin sauce, bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Adjust sweetness by adding Brn Sugar or additional Vinegar as desired...Makes about 2 Cups.


For a Lexington Style Dip add, 1/2C Ketchup and 1-3tsp Red Pepper Flakes...JJ


post #4 of 5

I agree with the above, finishing sauce is what makes the best PP over the top.


And JJ's is very good!!



post #5 of 5
I have to fully agree with Joe. I make some awesome Q in my smokey mountain but the places that burn logs have that extra something. Like Joe said, instead of chunks or chips try throwing a split or two on top of the coals. It made a huge difference in my WSM. I set them on the top grate to pre heat while my chimney starts on the bottom. Once I build my coals I throw them on top and let them burn for a bit. Then I put the lid on and dial in my temps. Finishing sauce is another option. Here in Memphis they serve everything with a shake of rub on it. I prefer the Lexington style tha chef JJ described but it all works.
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