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Make Barbecued Pulled Pork Easier

America’s Test Kitchen has done its homework on this recipe, simplifying the pulled pork process as much as possible to give you a treat you’ll love any time of year.

Barbecued Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Why this recipe works: Pulled pork is classic summertime party food: slow-cooked pork roast, shredded and seasoned, served on the most basic of hamburger buns (or sliced white bread), with just enough of your favorite barbecue sauce, a couple of dill pickle chips, and a topping of coleslaw. However, many barbecue procedures demand the regular attention of the cook for eight hours or more. We waned to find a way to make moist, fork-tender pulled pork without the marathon cooking time and constant attention to the grill.

After testing shoulder roasts (also called Boston butt), fresh ham and picnic roasts, we determined that the shoulder roast, which has the most fat, retained the most moisture and flavor during a long, slow cook. We massaged a spicy chile rub into the meat, then wrapped the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for at least three hours to “marinate.” The roast is first cooked on the grill to absorb smoky flavor (from wood chips — no smoker required), then finished in the oven. Finally, we let the pork rest in a paper bag so the meat would steam and any remaining collagen would break down. We also developed a pair of sauce recipes to please barbecue fans with different tastes.

Pulled pork can be made with a fresh ham or picnic roast, although our preference is for Boston butt. If using a fresh ham or picnic roast, remove the skin by cutting through it with the tip of a chef’s knife; slide the blade just under the skin and work around to loosen it while pulling it off with your other hand. Four medium wood chunks, soaked in water for 1 hour, can be substituted for the wood chip packets on a charcoal grill. Serve on plain white bread or warmed rolls with dill pickles and coleslaw.

1 (6- to 8-pound) bone-in Boston butt roast
3/4 cup Dry Rub for Barbecue (recipes follows)
4 cups wood chips, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained
1 (9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan
2 cups barbecue sauce (recipes follow)

Pat pork dry with paper towels, then massage dry rub into meat. Wrap meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

At least 1 hour prior to cooking, remove roast from refrigerator, unwrap and let sit at room temperature. Using 2 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in 2 foil packets and cut several vent holes in top.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chips packs on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Place wood chip packets directly on primary burner. Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 325 degrees.)

Set roast in disposable pan, place on cool side of grill, and cook for 3 hours. During final 20 minutes of cooking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Wrap disposable pan with heavy-duty foil and cook in oven until meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Carefully slide foil-wrapped pan with roast into brown paper bag. Crimp end shut and let rest for 1 hour.

Transfer roast to carving board and unwrap. Separate roast into muscle sections, removing fat, if desired, and tearing meat into shreds with your fingers. Place shredded meat in large bowl and toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Makes 8 servings.

Dry Rub for Barbecue

You can adjust the proportions of spices in this all-purpose rub or add or subtract a spice, as you wish.

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

Makes 1 cup.

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

This sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon hot sauce

Mix vinegars, sugar, pepper flakes and hot sauce together in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 cups.

Mid-South Carolina Mustard Sauce

This sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Mix vinegar, oil, mustard, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015”


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