What to have with BBQ Pulled Pork?
This post was originally published on . It’s one of our oldest and most popular recipes on our entire site. It’s been made thousands of times from readers all over the world. This is how to make authentic Southern Pulled Pork.
Remember last week when we were talking about company recipes? This is one of those recipes. I’ll never forget the first time I had this *perfect* pulled pork. I was a guest in someone’s home and this was their company recipe. And true to company recipe fashion, I immediately fell in love with it and begged for the recipe.
This pulled pork is SO yummy and flavorful and tender, it just melts in your mouth. And it really is *perfect* for company because everyone I’ve ever made this for has just raved over it. You have to try it, at least once. Really. You will be hooked. :)
Let’s pick out the perfect pork shoulder for your perfect pulled pork. The best piece of meat for pulled pork is a 4-7 lb whole boston butt.
Make sure your pork shoulder has a layer of fat on the bottom:
And it should also have a bone going about halfway through it. (It doesn’t go all the way through. Just halfway.)
Now, if you notice, my pork shoulder is 7.91 lbs. I got a big one because I wanted to feed 6 people *and* have tons and tons of leftovers. Normally I hate leftovers, but I LOVE this leftover. People always want some to take home with them and it *just* as yummy heated up the next day. Just pop it in a 350-375 degree oven for about 5 mins. You’ll know when it’s done because the whole kitchen will start smelling so good and your mouth will be watering and you just won’t be able to wait any longer before you yank it out of the oven and put it on a plate. It even freezes really well, although we never want to freeze it because we always want to keep eating it for the next couple of days. lol.
After you pick out your perfect pork shoulder, you may want to pick up a few other items while you’re out..
You’ll need a 3″ deep roasting pan that’s big enough to hold your pork shoulder so that there is at least 1″ of extra room on all sides. Of course you may have a nice roasting pan at home that you can use. I just pick up one of these disposable ones at the grocery store for easier clean up. You’ll also need something LARGE to brine the roast in. I use a 2 gallon ziploc bag. And the last thing is a digital thermometer with an alarm. You don’t *have* to have one of these, but I find this an *extremely* useful piece of equipment in my kitchen. The thermometer stays in the meat, in the oven while the digital reader sits outside on top of the stove. You set the alarm and it will go off when the meat has reached the desired temp. I LOVE it because I don’t have to constantly keep checking on the roast. I just put it in and forget it! :) You can pick one of these up pretty cheap (less than ) at the grocery store (and almost anywhere- Amazon, Target, Walmart, Linens-N-Things, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc). And you can use it for everything- chicken, steak, burgers, etc. I love it for baking chicken because you know exactly when the chicken is done and it doesn’t get dried out. :)
So! Now that you’ve got all your equipment, let’s start out by making the special dry rub that makes this pulled pork perfectly seasoned.
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix all ingredients together well and store in an air tight container.
This smells absolutely divine. Cover it and set it aside for a sec.
Now for the brine – A brine solution gives the meat the extra moisture it needs for a long, slow cooking process so you don’t end up with tough, dried out meat.
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 qts cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves
Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and dry rub and stir well to combine.
Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place in a 2 gallon ziploc bag (or a container big enough so the shoulder is completely covered in brine solution).
Carefully pour in the brine solution…
And add two dried bay leaves.
You can find these in the spice section of the grocery store.
And refrigerate for at least 12 hours. 24-36 hours is best. I usually do it about 24 hours. I like to clean out a spot in my door and keep the pork there because it helps keep the shoulder completely covered in brine.
At least 12 hours later…
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. (Yes, 225 degrees, that is not a typo :)) Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution and place in the roasting pan.
Pat the skin dry with paper towels so you’ll get a nice, crisp crust.
Generously, generously, cover the WHOLE thing in your dry rub mix.
And massage it into that skin real good. Be sure and get it up under any flaps you may come across.
It should look like this when you’re done massaging. If you have dry rub mix left, that’s okay. We will be using it later.
Make sure the fat layer is facing UP and stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the shoulder, but not touching the bone.