As a regular reader of my column (you do read my column regularly, right?) you know that I prefer legitimate barbecue cooked low and slow over hickory as compared to pork that is cooked in the oven or crock pot.
Some people try to fake you out by sneaking some liquid smoke into the BBQ sauce in a desperate attempt to introduce that outdoor flavor to meat that has been cooked entirely indoors. That’s the culinary equivalent of a spray tan.
On the flip side, I also understand that cooking a pork butt all day is a time commitment of at least 10 to 12 hours. That’s not to say you are standing over the meat during that entire period time, but to serve pulled pork sandwiches at a reasonable hour means you have to get the meat prepped by 5:30 a.m. or so and on the smoker or grill at 6 a.m. Let’s say it’s a 10-hour cooking time. That puts you at 4 p.m. You then have to take the pork off the grill, let it cool for at least half an hour, and then pull it. By the time you get everything to the table, you are looking at 6 p.m.
If you can plan a day ahead, I have a perfect solution that will not wake you up in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve used this approach twice and served the pork at two gatherings. It turned out fantastic.
It was tender, juicy and full of subtle smoke flavor. Maybe someone else came up with this approach, but I haven’t seen it anywhere online, so unless I hear differently, I’m unabashedly taking full credit.
And I fully realize there are expensive smoking units that use wood pellets which you plug into an electric outlet. There are also cast iron units where you fill the smoke box and let it go unattended for hours on end. Most of us have a Weber grill or a charcoal smoker which require occasional additions of charcoal. For those people, keep reading.