Pulled Pork. Smoked, of course
Pulled Pork – is there anything more versatile? There are dozens of ways to prepare and cook it and hundreds of ways to eat it! Personally, my favorite is to smoke it.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably (hopefully?) because you’ve just purchased a one pound bag of Preserved Smoked Pulled Pork. Let me tell you how exactly this bag of smoked deliciousness came to be!
I buy whole pork butts through my favourite meat supplier, Pre Pak Meats of Calgary. The term Pork Butt is quite misleading. It is a cut that actually comes from the upper part of the shoulder of the front leg of the pig.
First, I brine it. To brine something is to marinate it in a salt/sugar water solution. I do this for two reasons – it adds moisture and seasoning.
I set up my smoker with natural charcoal and apple wood chucks. I don’t use chips or pellets. Call me old school, I really enjoy cooking this way. I take the pork out of the brine and dry it as best as I can. Next, I slather it with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and then spread on my own personal spice mix, called a rub. It’s a pretty versatile rub and I tweak it depending on what kind of meat I’m preparing. I always use salt, brown sugar, garlic, onion, cayenne, and some herbs when mixing a rub for pork. When my smoker warms and sits consistently between 225-275* F I throw on the butt. It stays there anywhere from five to twelve hours- a pretty broad range of time, but every pork butt is different, every lump of charcoal is different, every wind draft in the kitchen is different. Am I smoking one butt or four? All of these variables will affect the amount of time the pork will sit in the smoker. The one thing that doesn’t change is that when that pork hits 200*F inside it will be fall-apart tender and juicy.
I mop my pork every hour while it’s cooking. This means I baste it with a tasty liquid called a gastrique. Gastrique is a fancy French word for an acid and sugar reduction. This helps to balance the flavours. The gastrique I use for my pulled pork is made of apple juice, sugar, and vinegar. I use a few other ingredients too, but I can’t give away all my secrets! The pork will come to a temp of 160*F relatively quickly. And then it stops. And then I panic. Is the smoker losing heat?! The pork has stopped rising in temperature! In the smoking world, we call this “The Stall”. This is when the magic happens. Between 160* and 200* F is when all the fat and connective tissues break down, resulting in that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness we are all looking for.
Finally! The pork hits 200*F and it’s difficult to get off the smoker because it’s falling apart. I sit the pork in a bit of the mop, hit it with a good layer of the rub and cover the whole set up with aluminum foil. I let it rest for an hour or so before shredding it. I test it for seasoning and add more rub and/or mop if I think it needs it. I then portion it into one-pound packs, vacuum seal and freeze them. Voila! Hours of work and labour and love and all you have to do is thaw it! That, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of Preserved’s Smoked Pulled Pork!
NOW WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?!
· Classic pulled pork sandwich on a bun, topped with coleslaw. Bonus points if you serve it with a side of plain Rip-L chips or potato salad.
· Add it to your favorite potato salad- practically a meal in itself.
· Skip the bun and make a pulled pork lettuce or fresh cabbage wrap.
· Put it on pizza! Add it to a store-bought cheese pizza, or make your own pizza at home. I suggest olive oil, chopped garlic, Preserved BBQ sauce, pulled pork, some bitter greens (such as kale or arugula), and go light on the cheese.
· Pasta! Served with Preserved’s Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce. Add fresh diced tomatoes, jalapenos and cheese, if you’re feeling up to it. Or just some olive oil, onions, garlic, pulled pork and chili flakes
· Add it to your favorite macaroni and cheese.
· EGGS! Serve a pile of smoked pulled pork beside a fried egg (in place of bacon or sausage). Cook it in an omelet or frittata. Put it on your Eggs Benedict. Concoct a hash/scrambler with hash browns, pulled pork, onions and sautéed peppers.
· Put them on your game-day nachos. You’ll be the hit of the party, I promise!
· Put some in your quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich.
· Pulled pork, pineapples and bell peppers over rice. Dinner is ready!
· Make it into a soup! Sauté some onions and season them with cumin, coriander and chili powder. Add any leftover cooked veggies you have kicking around in your fridge. Throw in some jalapenos if you’re feeling spicy. Cover with a stock/broth of your choice. Add a can of beans or a handful of frozen or canned corn. Top with cilantro.
· Substitute your pulled pork anywhere you normally use bacon. PEROGIES! CAESAR SALAD! Yum!!
· Make a Shephard’s pie. Put your pulled pork and some Preserved BBQ sauce into a casserole dish. Top with assorted frozen veggies- peas, corn, carrots, green beans- whatever you’ve got! Top with left over mashed potatoes and bake in the oven until it’s warm and golden.
· Add it to any Preserved Soup or Stew.
There are sooooo many ways to use our Pulled Pork. Send me your pics or tag @preserved.yyc on Instagram and show me how you’re using it! Bonus points to anyone who uses our Pulled Pork in a dish not mentioned above! Shoot me a DM, tag the photo on IG or email me and I’ll add it to this list!