About Pulled Pork
Pulled pork usually involves a shoulder cut that is left to cook for an extended period of time until the meat is so tender that it can be easily shredded with a fork. This 'pulling apart' of the pork meat is what gives it its name.
The Weight of the Cut
Wondering which size of cut to use for pulled pork? It is recommended to use a Boston butt (shoulder cut) that is between six and seven pounds. Keep in mind that the meat needs to be brined prior to cooking. A cut that is very large and a cut that is very small will absorb the brine at different rates and will heat at different paces when being cooked.
Brining is a great way of keeping meat from drying out during the extended cooking process. Pork today is a whole lot leaner than it was a few generations ago, and brining is important in order to keep pork meat moist in place of a higher fat content. For a cut that is anywhere between five to eight pounds, make the brine from 2 quarts water, half a cup of salt and half a cup of sweetener. Use the sweetener of your choice. This can be regular sugar, molasses, etc. Spices and herbs can be added to the brine as well. The meat should be completely submerged in the brine and kept in the refrigerator for ten to twelve hours.
Using a Dry Rub
Once brined, gently rinse the pork meat and pat dry using paper towels. Use a dry rub of choice or make your own using salt, garlic powder, cumin, brown sugar, onion powder, pepper and paprika. Use chili powder to add heat. If you are not sure how much of each spice to use, use about a tablespoon of each. Mix the spices together and rub onto the surface of the pork, aiming to cover it as evenly as possible.
Cooking the Pork
The pork can be cooked in the slow cooker or in the oven. If cooking in the oven, the pork should be cooked uncovered for ten to twelve hours at 200 or 210 degrees. If cooking in the slow cooker, cook the pork for approximately 8 hours along with half a cup of water. When done, the pork should pull apart easily. If it is still tough, continue cooking until it is tender.
The Actual Pulling
Allow the pork to cool significantly prior to pulling to avoid burns. Use 2 forks to shred the meat. Some like to add barbecue sauce to the pork and cook it for an additional 2 hours or so, but one can add barbecue sauce and serve the pork right away.
How to Serve Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is typically served over hamburger buns. The meat is drenched in barbecue sauce and topped with coleslaw (optional). There are other creative ways to serve pulled pork such as shredded over plain boiled white rice, served without the bun with fries on the side, in tacos and burritos, etc. Use whatever pork was leftover in soups and casseroles.