Re: Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is really a pork shoulder (not butt) that is cooked so tender that it falls off of the bone and can just be "pulled apart". In reality, you will have to use a knife in the process as there is a lot of fat to deal with and pulled pork can be stringy. Shoulders are not readily available whole in many parts of the country. In parts where they are they are often referred to as long shoulders or whole shoulders. In many parts of the country like Texas where I live, they cut the shoulder into two parts known as the Boston Butt and the Picnic. Personally, I buy one of each and BBQ them at the same time. The flavors are subtly different and I like to mix them. Besides, why fire up the smoker with only one piece of meat in it.
Personally, I do not like a lot of dry rub on a shoulder. I personally am against sugar and salt for a shoulder rub. Having said that, I lightly dust mine right before cooking with a little salt and pepper. I do not use a rub that is high in salt or indeed any rub at all. Ribs are another matter, I always use a rub with ribs. My thoughts are that sugar caramelizes and salt (in heavy doses) dries out the meat. Jeff does not agree with me on this but I try NOT to develop a bark on a shoulder. So I stay away from sweet mops also. I am afraid of the mop caramelizing and forming a hard bark that might slow down smoke penetration. Do not apply sauce to a shoulder until you serve it. Remember that BBQ sauces are high in sugar. Low and slow and lots of smoke penetration. But remember thin blue smoke is what you are after. Any more and your meat will be bitter and taste like creosote.
I use a â€œmopâ€ in a spray bottle. It is 1/5 cider vinegar and 4/5 water. Thatâ€™s all. NO sugar! Whenever I open the smoker for any other reason, I spray the shoulder. Keep the water pan full and clean. Empty every two hours or so. Get rid of the grease skim.
Smoke for 1.25 to 1.5 hours per pound as a guide until the interior temperature reaches 190 for pulled pork BBQ or 180F for a shoulder that you intend to slice warm and serve as slices. Let it cool for a while (maybe in the freezer)and then pull from the bone and chill immediately for safety reasons or eat it. Do not let it linger long in the danger zone.
There is a lot of good advice here and in other related forums. I suggest browsing older back forum posts.
Jeff is supposedly going to offer a 5 part mini course in Pork BBQ. See the top level of this forum.
PS, The shoulder below was a 7.5 pounder that cooked 11 hours. It looks burned but it is not. It fell apart while trying to get it from this tray to a cutting board for pulling. It was very moist and tender. The skin was soft and edible and indeed forms an important part of the flavor.