So, now you have a huge hunk of seasoned meat in your fridge. What's next? Pull it out and set up a sheet pan, preferably lined with foil. That rub has a good bit of sugar and the pork is going to release a good amount of fat. Unless you like standing in front of the kitchen sink scrubbing pans, line it with foil. Consider yourself warned.
Now I set up a rack in the pan and place my pork butt on the rack. I then insert my probe thermometer deep into the meat being careful to avoid the bone. If the probe is close to the bone you'll get a false high reading. The butt has to cook for approximately 9-10 hours depending on the size. When did I start my butt? The first time I made it, I woke up early and placed it in the oven around 6am. But then I just about singed my fingertips rapidly shredding red hot meat in order to serve dinner on time. This time I decided to start the cooking at around midnight and planned to pull in the morning for a pulled pork sandwich lunch. You can also pull the pork and then cool it and keep it in the fridge. It reheats well if you cover it first.
I set up my probe thermometer to both countdown from 9 hours and beep when the meat had reached 195 degrees. If your thermometer only offers one option go for the temperature reading. Just preheat the oven to 275 degrees and put in the pork butt. Go to sleep.
If you've timed things right you'll wake up to the most amazing aroma. Start checking in on your pork at around 7-8 hours. You'll notice that if you poke the pork butt at this time, the meat will still feel pretty firm and like it won't shred or pull. Be patient. When the meat finally reaches 195-200 degrees a poke will reveal meat ready to fall apart. I take several readings around the pork butt. Sometimes there are spots that cook quicker than others so the first time the thermometer reads 195 degrees I take it out and shift it to an opposing side. If it still reads 195 degrees, the meat is done. If not, then stick the meat back in the oven.
Look at that bark. Don't be afraid and think it's burnt. No, that is caramelized. Once the meat is done let it rest. Traditional, smoked pulled pork is usually wrapped in foil and allowed to rest that way for thirty minutes. Next time I definitely plan on trying that.
Once the meat has rested commence to pulling. I'm very picky with meat and have no tolerance for gristle or fat. This is the waste pile after pulling. See how clean that bone is? It pulls right out with no resistance, great sign that the connective tissue has melted. Even with my pickiness there is minimal waste. Well, it's not waste - my dogs love when I make hunks of meat too.
Here's my pile 'o pork. Moist, tender mildly flavored pork with little bits of the bark created by the spice rub interspersed. If you like a stronger flavor to your pork or plan on serving it sans sauce, you can reserve a portion of the rub before rubbing the pork butt (to keep it clean) and sprinkle it on the pulled pork. Another technique I plan on trying for the next time to compare.
What to do with the mound of pork? Like I mentioned in the earlier post, Mr. Maricucu needs only a drizzle of sauce and a fork to call this a meal. I prefer to dress mine up a bit. First, grab a nice kaiser bun. I find it's just soft enough to match the texture of the pork but sturdy enough not to fall apart mid sandwich.
Pile a good bit of the pulled pork on the bottom half. Drool. That's me drooling, I'm not saying that the recipe requires you to drool. Although if you make it right, you likely will.
Let's discuss the sauce. One day I plan on tinkering with barbecue sauce recipes. For now we buy Sonny's sweet sauce but the last time we were shopping at BJs this bottle caught the georgia boy's attention. Do you see what I see? Yup, Marietta, GA and the fact that it had a loose tomato base seemed promising.
Drizzle on as much sauce as you'd like. Since this sauce was a bit milder I put on more than usual. Now you'll notice this recipe is missing one very important ingredient that makes this version heresy in southern barbecue circles. Smoke. That's right, technically this is not barbecue because I did not smoke the meat. Since I have no plans on getting a smoker (currently own a propane grill) and since my children are pretty, ahem creative the idea of an untended piece of meat on an outdoor wood burning smoker is not practical at the moment.
How do I compensate? Meet Mr. Liquid Smoke. Stop - I know what you're thinking, "eww that's horrible and artificial!" Not so, liquid smoke (at least this brand) is made from wood in a condensing process. I mix just a drop or two into a bit of barbecue sauce before putting it on my sandwich. This stuff is powerful so don't go heavy handed. Just a couple of drops.
So now you've laid the protein foundation. Time for a little roughage. Coleslaw, oh how I maligned you in my youth. But I had never tasted a cole slaw that wasn't watery, overly sweet or gloppy. Then I had a pulled pork sandwich with a tangy, slightly sweet slaw spilling over the top and little birds sang. Mmmmm. I don't have a cole slaw recipe. My recipe is remembering what a good one tastes like, then adding stuff in until it tastes like that. I start with mayo, a bit of sugar, apple cider vinegar, and celery salt. That's it. I like mine tangy but slightly sweet and with the spikey celery taste (but no fresh celery, please no celery in my slaw).
Pile on the slaw but remember you need to fit this thing in your mouth. Be generous but prudent.
Put a lid on her and go to town. Like JJ said in Goodtimes, "it's dyyynomite!"