American style BBQ is slowly making its way over to the UK and what a treat we are in for! It has really opened my eyes to the whole pitmaster movement; say goodbye to plain old burgers and sausages and prepare to dive into a whole new realm of lumps of charred, succulent meat!
Pulled pork is a good place to start a slowcook journey with as any, particularly because it is a forgiving cut of meat so great to get some practice on and is comparatively cheap to other meats that you’d look to cook long and slow.
If you’re in the UK you probably won’t be that au fait with the typical cut used which is called a ‘Boston Butt’ but essentially it is a pork shoulder; your local or online butchers will serve it, don’t waste your time in the supermarket as chances are they won’t have it.
I tend to go for a smaller cut like 2kg because it will feed an army and anything bigger would go to waste in my home but if you’ve got bigger families of 4+ then I’d definitely suggest getting adventurous and going for a 6-8kg slab.
Honestly it sounds like a faff but its such a good thing to branch out into, its a whole new way of cooking and requires some real skill which i’m only at the start of the ladder on. What this does open the door for is all that amazing American Southern cuisine which we Brits generally just drool at on the TV but never get to experience. I’ve got ribs, pulled pork, brisket and a few other staples under my belt but this really is the tip of the iceberg and it’s great fun when summer comes round and the hosting season begins.
One final thing is that i’ll be talking a very specific set up for my BBQ (i’m lucky enough to own a Big Green Egg which is a type of kamado style bbq great for this kind of cooking) so if you don’t own one it may sounds like jargon – basically you are trying to get a set up where the meat is being cooked indirectly, at a low temperature, for a long time and without being disturbed. Some people say you can do this in the oven, personally I don’t think you’ll do it justice, especially at the larger sizes of cuts so this is an outdoor sport in my opinion. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy something like the BGE as I appreciate it’s a real considered purchase but there are very affordable kettle drum type bbq/smokers out there for well under £100 and i’d say if you’ve got the spare change indulge yourself as you won’t regret it.
- 2kg+ pork shoulder
- 1tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp of cracked black pepper
- Half a bottle of regular bbq sauce (about 250ml)
- Half a bottle of regular apple juice (about 250ml)
Mix all the powders, sugars and salt together with a pestle and mortar to create a rub.
Score the fat into crosses on the pork shoulder and massage the entire cut with the rub until it is completely coated but be careful to not over handle the meat.
Set up the BGE for indirect cooking (plate setter in with legs up, grate on and drip tray in place).
Pick your wood smoke (I really like Maplewood) and make sure you’ve soaked for 15 minutes before hand.
Get the temperature to 110c and place the pork in fat side up.
Leave to smoke for a long time (in my experience it will be at least 6 hours even if you overshoot the temperature but I tend to average about 15) you will know the meat is done when it has an internal temperature of 92c and a thick, dark bark where the fat was.
Remove and rest for 30mins to an hour under tin foil.
Tear apart with fork, hands or even bear claws! You’ll know if you’ve hit the mark as the bone should pull out in one quick, easy motion. Be sure to keep it fairly chunky and make sure you distribute the bark evenly so everyone gets that flavour sensation.
Then lather the pork with the bbq sauce (purists will make their own, personally some of the independent companies that make this are far better than what I could achieve so I tend to use theirs) and apple juice and you are good to go!
- The name of the game here is to leave it alone, it is soooo tempting to open it up to check but this will result in an uneven cook so don’t touch.
- I struggled to keep my wood burning for any material period of time so I bought a small firebox that you can put the wood in – it really extends the smoke in my experience.
- I also invested in a remote meat probe so I could kick back and not have to worry – sadly i’m not at the pitmaster level to gauge a cook by eye so this was a very helpful investment for me.
- Make sure you have a full hopper of charcoal as you will be going for the long run here and there’s nothing worse than realising you’ve burnt through it all mid cook.
- Be sure to really coat the fat with the rub and score deeply, I struggled to get good bark but after persevering and repeating I now get pretty stellar results.
Meet the Author
My name is Georgie and I LOVE all things food. It marks most occasions and life events in some way for me – family celebrations where a bake off will almost certainly be on the cards, travelling the world to seek out culinary sensational overloads, a night out being wined & dined or just being in my kitchen; my favourite place at home and working those creative muscles.Learn more