Saturday, August 1, 2015

Indoor smokey pulled pork

Summertime means grilled and smoked foods galore! But what do you do when you don't have a smoker but want some delicious smoked meats? You make this recipe. Which also happens to be (hands down) the best pulled pork I've ever made.

Smokey pulled pork + BBQ sauce + Hawaiian buns
Warning: Drool-worthy photos of meaty goodness to follow. 
You may want to avoid this post if you're a vegetarian. :)

Though the flavors aren't quite as pronounced from what you'd get with a smoker, it's beyond awesome for an oven version, with a mellow smokey flavor. The best part of the meal though was the texture of the pork. It's insanely crispy on the outside, so much so that I was even eating the bits of fat that had that perfect crackly skin. And I'm typically NOT a fan of the fatty bits. But I just couldn't... stop... eating.

It may look hideous but it's delicious! This is half the pork shoulder straight from the oven.
Of course the recipe came from Cooks Illustrated, because they're the only crazy people out there who would brine the pork in liquid smoke, then coat it with even more smokey flavor. Oh, and they also have you cut the pork should in half to create even more surface area to get that crackly skin. But it's worth every single step.

You won't believe how crispy this pork gets!
This isn't a meal I'd make on the regular, but one worth trying at least once this summer. I even went all out and made the BBQ sauce recipe they suggested, though you could easily replace with your favorite brand.

I should note though that the recipe is pretty simple. A brine at the beginning, then just a long trip in the oven. Overall the recipe is pretty hands off until you start shredding the meat. But between the brine and the baking it'll take ~7 hours from start to finish.

Crispy. Crispy. Bits. They make this entire dish!!!!
Then just bring your bowl out to the table along with some BBQ sauce and some Hawaiian sweet rolls and you've got yourself a bona fide summertime meal!

Yours in helping you get your smoke on, even for those of us without fancy smokers,

Indoor smokey pulled pork, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 6 to 8

Note: Please please PLEASE make sure to wrap your baking sheet completely in foil. Don't do what I did, which was to simply put a layer of foil on the bottom of my baking sheet. As the fat rendered off the pork all the meat juices just seeped underneath the foil and formed a thick burnt crust on the bottom of my entire baking sheet that took days to soak and scrub off. So wrap your ENTIRE baking sheet with at least 1 layer of foil (heavy duty if you have it), making sure that you don't have any overlapping pieces where fat can drip under and create a mess. Then when the pork is done you can simply unwrap your baking sheet and cleanup will be a breeze.


1 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP liquid smoke 
1 boneless pork butt (about 5 pounds), cut in half horizontally (to increase the surface area of the meat)

Wet rub
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup yellow mustard

Dry rub
2 tsp table salt
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP ground black pepper
2 TBSP smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce, optional
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Alternative: If you don't want to make the BBQ sauce from scratch, simply use 2 cups of your favorite sauce thinned with 1/2 cup of the defatted pork cooking liquid from step 7.

  1. FOR BRINING THE PORK: Dissolve salt, sugar, and liquid smoke in 4 quarts cold water in a large container (Note: I used my soup pot). Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. While pork brines, make your "wet rub" by combining mustard and liquid smoke in small bowl; set aside. To make the dry rub combine the black pepper, paprika, sugar, salt, and cayenne in second small bowl; set aside.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Completely wrap a baking sheet in foil (see note above) and set aside.
  4. PREPARE PORK FOR THE OVEN: Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub the "wet rub" mustard mixture over the entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with the "dry rub" spice mixture.
  5. Place pork on wire rack set inside foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place piece of parchment paper over pork, then cover with sheet of aluminum foil, sealing edges to prevent moisture from escaping. (Note: covering the pork with parchment and then foil prevents the acidic mustard from eating holes in the foil.)
  6. Roast pork for 3 hours.
  7. Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment. Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into fat separator and reserve for sauce.
  8. Return pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1½ hours.
  9. Transfer pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  10. FOR THE SAUCE: While pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid from fat separator into medium bowl; whisk in sauce ingredients.
  11. TO SERVE: Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 cup sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately. 
The shredded and sauced pork can be cooled, tightly covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat it gently before serving. 


Stacey said...

Dude, I am a vegetarian and I think these photos look amazing. Fantastic job on the lighting!!!! You are rockin' the camera skills. :)

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