Okay, I like to cook with wood and charcoal, but I get a lot of emails asking how to modify my recipes to a gas grill (yes, I own gas grills) and even for the oven.
Some recipes just can’t be adapted, others can with decent results, and some…well, as much as this is going to tick-off the die-hards…some you can hardly tell the difference! Here’s one of my favorites.
Oh, and if you want to recreate a true “Southern pulled pork sandwich”, and really take ’em to the next level… be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of our Simple Tangy Slaw on top of the meat and sauce. Yeah, baby!
Pulled Pork BBQ
(In the gas grill, oven, or smoker) 1 Pork shoulder (6-8lb) Burnin’ Love Rub (see below) Basic BBQ Sauce (see below)
Rub the shoulder with spices. Set it aside for a few minutes and rub again over any wet spots. Keep doing this until there are no wet spots, the heavier the rub, the better. This makes the “bark” of the shoulder. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and fridge 12-24 hours.
Take shoulder out of fridge and let sit 60 minutes to bring the temp up.
For the gas grill:
You want indirect heat for cooking, you can easily do this on a conventional gas grill. Just keep the meat as far from the heat source as possible, or it will burn during the long cooking time. You want to cook this at 250 degrees Fahrenheit; you can go as high as 275, but no higher. You don’t want to go lower than 250, as you will start to dry out the meat before it is cooked.
Put the shoulder on the “cool side” of the grill, and place a disposable pan with a couple of cups of apple juice underneath it to add moisture and catch the drippings. A spray bottle with 50/50 apple juice and cider vinegar is nice for basting, as well.
A lot of folks like to use apple chips, soaked, for smoking. You can add 1/2 cup to a disposable tin pan over the “hot” side of your gill, every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours.
Personally, I prefer to use a small, nearly indestructible smoke box, called the “A-Maze-N Smoker”. It’s a metal-mesh maze that holds your favorite flavor of smoking pellets, and burns slowly enough to allow a three-hour smoke without constantly having to lift the cover and let all of that precious heat out. It’s cheap, and I’ve used my dozens of times with no visible wear or tear.
Here’s a quick video I did on using this unit with my La Caja China, but the principle would be the same in anything from a gas grill to a Weber Kettle.
If you don’t trust your on-board thermometer, get a cheap instant read (or better, a digital probe) and stick the probe all the way through a halved potato. Set the potato cut-side down on the grill. This keeps your thermometer off the grates.
After three to four hours, remove the shoulder from your grill, and roast (uncovered) in a pre-heated oven at 225d for 10-12 hours. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer (you should really get one) the meat is done when it pulls apart easily with a fork.
In The Oven
Follow the same prep directions as above. Pre-heat the oven to 225F, and roast the shoulder, fat-cap up, uncovered, for 14 hours (yes, I said fourteen. I usually roast mine overnight.)
Follow the “Finishing” steps, below.
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On the Traeger
Once the shoulder(s) are prepped, start Traeger on “Smoke” with the lid open until it’s cruisin’ (4 to 5 minutes). Set temp at 225F and preheat, lid closed, for about 15 minutes.
Place shoulders on the grill, fat-cap up, and smoke for 3 hours, spraying with a mix of apple juice and cider vinegar (50/50) every hour after the three hours.
Put shoulders in a large disposable aluminum foil pan and up the temp to 250F.
Roast shoulder for 8 more hours, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part, but not touching a bone, registers 190 degrees F.
If the skin starts to get too dark, cover it loosely with foil.
Remove the pan from the heat, tent shoulder(s) loosely in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the juices from the bottom of the pan into a fat separator. Mix broth (fat removed) with some salt and cider vinegar, to taste, and pour back over the meat after shredding. Allow to rest an additional 10 minutes to soak up the juices.
Serve either as sliders, or with a sauce on the side (see below) and some white bread slices to use as edible napkins!
For “oven only”…before applying the dry rub, brush the entire shoulder generously with Stubbs (brand name) Mesquite Liquid Smoke, allow the surface to dry, and repeat. The apply the dry rub (while still damp.) Note: this is the ONLY liquid smoke that I’ll allow in my kitchen. For the smoker, I like a wood chip/chunk blend of 75% oak,
Perk’s “Burnin’ Love” Rub
(Shh…it’s a secret!)
¼ C fine sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
4 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
2 Tbs hickory salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (opt)
Northern Carolina Vinegar Sauce
Personally, I think this very old, very traditional recipe is the best and only sauce for pulled pork.
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbs. smoked paprika
- 2 Tbs white sugar
- 4 tsp, fine sea salt
- 2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Combine all, simmer and cool. The longer it sits, the better it is!
But if you MUST have your thick, sweet, ketchup-based sauce…here’s a great one…
Basic BBQ Sauce (my cheater version)
1 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar BBQ sauce
½ cup honey
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
Red pepper flakes to taste (opt)
Combine all, simmer and allow to cool.
NOTE: This makes a fantastic sauce for grilled chicken but replacing the honey with an equal amount of Thai sweet chili sauce!