Due to some complications at my previous residence—including a nosy neighbor who was convinced I was burning down the hood every time I fired up the smoker—it's been over two years since I've made pulled pork, a shame that's hard to live down. With my new digs has come confidence, and this past weekend I smoked up two beautiful pork butts.
Brined in a molasses-and-salt mixture then rubbed down, the pork butts started smoking over a combination of oak and applewood at 10 p.m. on Saturday night and emerged from the smoker 16 hours later. So tender, they began falling apart as I lifted them out. After an hour's rest, they were easily pulled, piled high on a bun, and topped with North Carolina-style vinegar sauce (adapted based on your comments). Pulled pork is one of the few foods I openly brag about making incredibly well—this experience solidified that claim even further. Smoky, spicy, and juicy, the meat was everything pulled pork should be.
Brine recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
Read more: This Week's Tasty 10
- For the brine:
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 2 quarts cold water
- About 1 cup of your favorite dry rub
- 1 pork butt
- Hickory and apple wood chunks, or other smoking woods of your choice
Trim the fat cap to 1/4 inch thick and cut off any hard pieces of fat from the pork butt.
In a saucepan, add the molasses, salt, and 1/2 quart of water. Stir over medium meat just until all the salt is dissolved. Pour mixture into your brining vessel, add the rest of the water, and stir to combine. Completely submerge the pork butt in the brine and then place in the refrigerator and allow to brine for 12 hours.
Remove the pork butt from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub entire pork butt liberally with the dry rub. Wrap the rubbed pork butt in aluminum foil and place back in the refrigerator for another 12 hours.
Remove the pork from the fridge while you start the smoker. Fire up your smoker to 225°F. When at temperature, add wood chunks and the pork butt. Smoke until an instant read thermometer reads 190°F when inserted into the pork, about 14 to 16 hours.
Remove the pork and allow it to rest for at least an hour to cool down. Pull the pork using your hands or two forks and serve.