Barbecue Pulled Pork

Eating High on the Hog

When it comes time to barbequing, there ain’t many finer eats than pulled pork, not in these parts of the country at least. Whether you grill it, smoke or cook the roast in the oven depends on you, your time and I guess the weather. Smoking is by far the best but I know a lot of you folks may not have a smoker so today, we’re gonna grill a pork roast that will come out just as good. I promise.

To me, the best roast for pulled pork is from the pork shoulder, by far. The terminology for pork shoulder can vary widely depending on the region. Pork shoulder is the top portion of the front leg of the hog, that’s a fact. Now, the Boston blade roast comes from the upper part of the shoulder and is also called the Boston Butt. This is located near the loin and hence contains the shoulder blade bone. The lower 'arm' portion of the shoulder is the arm picnic. According to the National Pork Board, “in pre-revolutionary New England and into the Revolutionary War, some pork cuts (not those highly valued, or "high on the hog," like loin and ham) were packed into casks or barrels (also known as "butts") for storage and shipment. The way the hog shoulder was cut in the Boston area became known in other regions as "Boston Butt." This name stuck and today, Boston butt is called that almost everywhere in the US ... except in Boston."

This is the way I enjoy cooking a Boston Butt, but any pork roast will do as long as there is a nice layer of fat on top and good marbling running through it. You need this to keep the meat moist, as the fat will cook out. The secret comes in three steps: the rub, the smoke and the wrapped cooking stage. You will also need a good meat thermometer. Go ahead, go out, buy a butt, and let’s get to cooking…

BBQ Pulled Pork

First up is purchasing a good butt. Choose one about the size of a football; say 8 to 10 pounds with a nice layer of fat (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) covering the top. Trim the layer of fat to an even 1/4 inch. I like a bone-in but if you get a boneless, make sure to tie it up good. Some folks like to rub down the roast with all sorts of things like mustard, pepper jelly, you name it, and that's okay, to me too much sugar just causes the outer part to burn. I like to massage the roast with cooking oil and use a good spice rub, like the one today without sugar, again, no cause to burn the roast.

Now for the rub, I’ve posted this before and like I’ve said it’s a versatile rub for pork but oh so good. Use your own if you think you’ve got one better.

BBQ Rub for Pork

4 tablespoons chipotle chili pepper
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons crushed oregano
2 tablespoons finely crushed dried rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
    Mix well. Store any that’s left in an airtight jar.

    The Cooking Method:

    Sprinkle the roast generously with the rub and coax it into any cavities. Wrap roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge for about 45 minutes before grilling.

    Prepare your grill for indirect (off the heat cooking) on either gas or charcoal. Soak wood chips for an hour, I like hickory with maybe an apple blend the best and prepare a chip box or make a foil pack like I sometimes do. You can see how I make my foil pack here on my Cowboy Beef Brisket post. Get the grill going and the temperature to 250 degrees F. You need to keep it between 225 and 250 during the cooking process.

    Place chip box or foil pack on the fire side and place the roast on the cool side with fat side up. Close the lid and wait, this is all you can do for now.

    July 4th Grilling
    After about an hour and after the smoke from the wood chips has disappeared, open up the lid and stick in your thermometer. Insert it into the meatiest area not hitting any bone. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Also during this time, moisten the roast with a liquid to keep the outside moist. Use my Mopping Sauce or mix a mixture of cider vinegar and apple juice. I personally think pork needs the vinegar for tenderizing and the apple gives it a fruity background. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.

    When 165 is reached, remove roast and wrap tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil mopping one last time. I use two layers of foil. Replace the thermometer and place roast back on the indirect side of the grill. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 193 degrees F. which is perfect for pulling. Remove and set aside for at least 30 minutes or for an hour or two.

    At this point you can slice it, chopped it or dice it – but why come all this way without shredding it folks. That’s why we’re here, right? It should be tender enough to pull with your finger if you want large chunks. Now, if you want the shredded version, take two forks and working against each other, start at one end of the roast and pull the meat apart.

    Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, reheat the mopping sauce to moisten the meat or sprinkle it with a little black pepper, cider vinegar and apple juice for a real southern taste.


    1. there is nothing better than barbecued pork. I have had beef, ham but pork is the best....this looks great...would love a sammy right now of pulled pork love it!

    2. I love that rub...The pork looks great:)

    3. Me too..I love that rub and I know this burger with pulled BBQ pork would be delish ! Thanks Drick for sharing this deliciousness :)

    4. This is definitely a treat in my book! Who doesn't love pulled pork?

    5. Love that rub! I have no BBQ so I use liquid smoke....

    6. Now this is definitely hog heaven!! and I would be squealing all the way to the dinner table....after that you would only hear me! BBQ is certainly my weak spot, my wife not being that big of a fan, I eat it when ever I can, and usually Pork BBQ in the north is an uninspired thing....sigh.....this looks fantastic, I need to make one and freeze it portions to enjoy at my leisure!!! (thats after i eat enough to explode!)
      thanks again for a great recipe my freind!

    7. This pork looks out of this world! And the rub is fantastic! Thanks for the great recipes, cher! Guess I'm going to have to do one of these this weekend, now!

    8. wow this looks finger licking good, its big here in NC

      thanks for stopping by from Dennis's blog


    9. Oh my, that really is a great looking barbeque pork. I will try your rub, it sounds terrific.

    10. great rub, love the spicy kick. pulled pork really is there anything better for the fourth? yum


    11. This looks great-I have a big BBQ coming up & I plan on trying your recipe-thanks!

    12. I think I have my 4th of July menu right here! Thanks. :)


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