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Pulled Pork Recipes: The Best Techniques for Pork Perfection

Pulled pork recipes are typically made from pork shoulder. A full pork shoulder can be used, though it is usually divided into two cuts: the Boston butt and picnic. Either cut can be used, but the Boston butt, which is closer to the top of the shoulder and contains less bone, is generally the cut of choice for grilling pros.

Cooking Methods

The key to tender, juicy pulled pork recipes is cooking slow and low. There are three main techniques to cooking the pork: smoking, oven roasting, and cooking in a slow cooker. Begin each method by adding a spiced rub like this recipe from Epicurious or this recipe for Magic Dust rub from About.com. Allow the rub to marinate as long as possible. Overnight is best, but at least one hour is required.

  • Smoker: If you have plenty of time on your hands and want to go all in, pop your pork into a smoker or charcoal grill. Preheat the smoker or grill to 210 degrees. Cook the pork for 10 to 12 hours, maintaining the same temperature. If cooking on a grill, arrange the coals on one side, leaving a space large enough for the pork to sit without being directly over them. Sprinkle wood chips over the coals after they are fully heated and add more coals and wood chips every two hours as needed.
  • Oven roasted: Roasting pork in the oven has the same delicious results without all the work of firing up a grill. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Place the pork in a roasting pan and cook it in the oven for about six hours. You’ll know it’s ready when it is falling apart, but be sure to check the temperature, which should be at 170 degrees in the thickest section.
  • Slow cooker: No time to cook? No problem. Let the slow cooker do all the work for you, and you’ll have a delicious pulled pork meal waiting for you at the end of the day. First brown the pork in a skillet, about five minutes per side on medium heat. Add a bed of chopped onion and 1/2 cup of water to the slow cooker and place the pork on top. Cook on low for eight hours.

Shredding Technique

If smoking or grilling, let the pork rest for one hour before you shred it; otherwise, let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. Use two forks to pull the meat apart, shredding it into pieces. Use one fork to steady the pork while you pull the meat away with the other. Discard any large pieces of fat.

Healthier Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe

Pulled pork sandwiches are delicious, but the downside is they can be high in fat and calories. Make a healthier version by lightening the toppings and even adding some nutrients. Opting for a whole-wheat flatbread bun, swapping out cabbage for broccoli slaw, and making your own barbecue sauce, like this recipe from EatingWell or this recipe for peach-mustard barbecue sauce from the Food Network, help lighten up this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Pulled pork
  • Whole-wheat flatbread buns
  • Broccoli slaw
  • Homemade barbecue sauce

Directions:

  1. Measure out 3/4 cup pork and 1 tablespoon sauce per sandwich. Toss the pork and sauce together in a large bowl.
  2. Lightly toast the buns.
  3. Top the bottom bun with a 3/4 cup scoop of pork, add some broccoli slaw, and the top bun.

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