Yes I am a Texas boy who loves BBQ. Yes I absolutely love Brisket. But you have to admit there is something about Pulled Pork that really attracts the BBQ lover. Brisket is bold and meaty and dense in flavor. Pork is lighter in flavor and takes well to seasonings and marinades. Since Kroger had Pork Butt on sale, (bone in of course – don’t be a pretender and go boneless) I thought nothing would be better than a Saturday of pork, beer, and football. But good pulled pork takes time and some prep. I had to get started
I grabbed a 9 pounder and headed home for prep. Here is a flow of what to consider before diving in:
Part 1 – Brine and Dine
To Brine or not to Brine?
I cannot think of a tastier food than Pork. It takes to flavor so well. That’s why we smoke pork butt, pork ribs, pork sausage, pork loin, and of course bacon. So we have a ton of flavor potential with a 9 pound Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder. Professionals who smoke regularly suggest to brine or inject pork and poultry with a liquid solution prior to smoking. It will help to keep the meat moist and give you an opportunity to build a flavor profile that complements your smoke. Many on the BBQ competition circuit use flavor injectors for their simplicity and ease of use. I find a brine more effective and a worthwhile process if you have time. If you plan on using a brine, expect 1 to 1.5 hours per pound. I plan on brining my bad boy for 9 hours beginning the night before I plan to cook.
Brines are very simple. They are a saltwater solution combined with some tasty flavors to enhance the pork profile. I like the brine recipe of 5 simple ingredients:
1. 4 to 5 Quarts of Water
2. 10 Ounces by weight of Kosher Salt
3. 3/4 Cup of Quality Molasses
4. 1/4 Cup of Worcestershire
5. 3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
Oh, and a large vessel for this pork bath. A quick trip to my local restaurant supply store offers many cost-effective devices. I like the 12 gallon clear food container with lid. You will spend $15, but it doubles as a storage container for your smoking supplies. Dump all the ingredients into the container and stir for several minutes to make sure the salt dissolves and the ingredients mix. Then take your pork and wash it off with water at the sink. Get any packing slime and solution off before it takes a swim. This will give the solution direct contact with the meat so it can begin its process.
So what is happening here? Why so much salt? The salt solution invades the cell structure of the meat. It breaks down the fibers of the meat and causes the fibers to release the natural liquids. This is where the other ingredients come into play. While puling some of the natural liquids out, the salt brings our new flavors with it and leaves them behind in the cell. The molassesy, worcestershirey, vinegary, solution is in the pork for our cook. Now we have to consider the outer flavor profile.