Friday, September 3, 2010

Pulled Pork

This one came as a result of a trip through Memphis and Mississippi. We ended up in Clarksdale (Mississippi) because I wanted to see the Delta Blues Museum.  While that was interesting and I was glad I got to go, the real gem of the trip was the discovery of the best pork sandwich I had ever tried. 

I had heard about Abe's BBQ on one of the food or travel shows on tv and when I saw the sign just had to stop in and try it out.  I had never had real southern pulled pork and boy was I missing out. Abe's sits at the fabled "Crossroads" where Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the Devil.  You'd probably never stop here unless some locals told you about it or, like me, saw it on tv.  If you are ever down that way give it a try.

I cook this half way in a smoker and finish in the oven. You can certainly do the whole thing in the oven but you won't get that good smokey flavor.


2 Bone-in Pork Shoulders
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika (sweet or hot...not smoked)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder (Gephardts is pretty good)
2 teaspoons of white sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water


For pulled pork you want a bone in pork shoulder. Trim off any excess fat or pieces of hard fat.  Look around the bone end for traces of blood. There is a vein that you need to remove or the meat in that area will have an off taste.  Pat both pieces dry with a paper towel and place in a large baking dish.

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Rub the mixture on the pork shoulders, coating it all over. Keep a 1/4 cup of the rub for the mop sauce

To make the mop sauce, heat up a sauce pan and add in the water, vinegar and left over rub. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the rub is dissolved.  remove from the heat at set aside.

Mop Sauce


If using a smoker, get it prepped and have the temperature at 250 degrees. You want to maintain close to that temperature the entire time.  A hickory/oak mix works well. The hickory gives great flavor and the oak burns hot and long. I use a digital probe to monitor the temperature of the smoker as well as the pork. Place the meat directly on the rack and smoke the shoulders until they reach an internal temperature of 145. They really wont take in the smoke after that point and your just burning up your wood.  Move the meat to a 225 degree oven and cook uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 190.   At this time, mop or spoon the sauce you made all over the shoulders. Continue cooking until the internal temp is 205-210.  At this point the internal fat has mostly rendered out and it will pull apart easily.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes.

If you don't have a smoker, just follow the same procedure except start in the oven at 250 until the temperature reaches 145. Then reduce and finish the same way.

You should have something that look like this:

Once the pork has cooled enough to handle, start tearing it apart with your hands. Pull out the bone and any large pieces of fat that may not have rendered.  Toss the pulled (shredded) pork with the mop sauce or any BBQ sauce that you like. Don't use too much. You just want to keep the pork moist and give it a kick.  Makes excellent sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, etc....Also great on eggs or just by itself.  The 2 shoulders are going to make enough for about 12 people or more. You can store the meat in the fridge for about a week.  Just heat up a skillet and toss it around to warm it up.

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