Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich
Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich is a labor of love! It is something that you need to plan for. It’s not a last-minute meal idea for sure. But that little bit of planning is definitely worth it in the end!
For instance, the recipe is fairly straight forward; you simply have to have the time to plan it out and the time to cook it. The pork shoulder is the starting point for this luscious meal. It’s good to note that pork shoulder is also called pork butt or Boston butt.
In addition, you are going to have to start a day or two in advance. This is one of those times when you can’t rush the process, you just have to sit back and let time do its thing. These are not flavors that develop quickly, but slowly. Much like a great whiskey or a fine bottle of wine!
Before You Start
I have done a number of smoked pork shoulders over the years. Generally, they have turned out great, when they didn’t it was because I tried to rush it. I didn’t take the time to let everything develop naturally.
The first step is to find the right cut of meat. Your butcher can help you with this for sure. It’s a good idea to get to know the people behind the meat counter. Building a relationship with them will go a long way in helping you find the best cuts of meat.
Often times they will know when something might be going on sale soon too. I like to keep an eye out for specific cuts of meat like pork shoulder or prime rib. When they go on sale I can pick up one or two and put them in the freezer.
A Day or Two Before
If you are using a pork shoulder from the freezer you have to thaw it first, I thaw mine just like I would a frozen turkey. I take it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is 5 lbs per day. However, this means that depending upon the size of your cut of meat it may take a few days to thaw.
After that, you can start to prepare your meat for the smoker. First, if required, you need to trim any skin that is still on your meat. I also will trim off a little of the excess fat on the fat cap if it too thick, but you will want to leave about a 1/2 inch on for smoking.
Now for the real fun! Everyone has a different rub they like to use. This one is especially good for pork, one comment; it looks like a lot of cayenne pepper. Don’t be shy; you can put that much or more in this rub without fear. Trust me; it will not be that spicy!
Rub & More
When you put the rub on your roast you need to massage it into the meat. When you are preparing pork ribs I’m told that you are supposed to sprinkle the seasoning on without rubbing it in, or so the competition BBQer’s say. That is not the case here, give it a good massage!
Once you have given your meat a nice massage with the rub you can take it one step further. I made a mop for the meat but rather than using it to mop the meat while it smoked I used it to inject into my roast. I was given a meat injector some years back and I have to tell you it is perfect for this type of meat.
If you haven’t tried it I encourage you too! I know some people don’t like to do this but I look at it like brining poultry. Some do and some don’t, it’s a personal choice. Injecting the mop directly into the meat I find helps keep it moist while it smokes.
Plus for my small smoker I also won’t lose heat by constantly opening and closing the door. By doing this the final product comes out nice and juicy.
How long does it take to smoke a pork shoulder at 225?
Once you have rubbed and injected your meat it’s time to let it rest. Double wrap the pork shoulder in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Make sure you place it on a plate or in a bowl. If the juices leak out you don’t want to have to clean up your refrigerator!
You should let it rest at least overnight in the fridge, but you can leave it for up to 24 hours. In addition, taking the roast out of the fridge an hour or so before you put it on the smoker helps the meat warm to room temp at least a little, while you are preparing your smoker.
You are going to want to get your smoker up to 225 degrees F. I do not smoke pork shoulder in a pan; I put it right on the grates of the smoker. In addition, if you did inject your meat be careful when you remove the plastic wrap it will be very juicy.
Above all, make sure that you put it in your smoker fat side up. This allows the fat to melt and soak into the meat while it smokes. I used a mixture of apple and hickory wood for smoking. You could also use pecan but it is very hard to find up here in the great white north!
What temperature is smoked pulled pork done?
At 225 degrees F, the cooking time for your pork shoulder will be at least 90 minutes per pound. For instance, an 8 lbs shoulder will take about 12 hours. It may take longer if you took it right out of the refrigerator.
It’s good to note that after about 5-6 hours the meat will actually not absorb any more smoke flavor. In other words, it just needs to finish cooking.
On another note, it is also good to be aware that the internal temperature will seem to level off around 170 degrees F. This is the temperature that the fat starts to breakdown so the internal temperature stops increasing. However, you don’t need to worry it will continue to increase after an hour or two at this temp.
You should smoke your meat to an internal temperature of 195-205 degrees F, I like to use an instant-read thermometer. Once you reach that point you are done! Remove it from the smoker and let it rest and cool slightly. You can then start to shred your pork.
Finishing off your Sandwich
The rest is easy; I use a good quality brioche bun. Stack the shredded pork high on the bun and cover it with some of my fabulous homemade Balsamic BBQ Sauce. To finish it off you just have to pile on a few spoonfuls of coleslaw, a few slices of dill pickle and you are done! Enjoy!!
- 8 lbs pork shoulder roast, bone in (Boston butt or pork butt)
- 8 Brioche buns
- 2 Cups coleslaw
- 12 Dill pickle slices for topping
- 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp each of garlic powder & onion powder
- 2 Tbsp each of chili powder, freshly ground pepper, & paprika
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (trust me, it will not be that spicy)
The Mop (injection liquid)
- ½ Cup cider vinegar
- ¼ Cup each of Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, & water
- 1 Tbsp each of brown sugar & the rub from above
- For the rub combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- For the injection liquid, whisk all the ingredients together in a medium size bowl until the brown sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- To prepare your pork shoulder, remove any skin that remains on you roast and trim
any excess fat. You can leave up to a ½ inch of the fat cap on. This will help
to keep your meat moist during the cooking process.
- Massage the entire roast with the rub, making sure you work it in well.
- Next carefully fill the injector and gently inject the liquid into the meat. Repeat moving
the injector to a different spot each time.
- Wrap the pork shoulder in 2 layers of plastic wrap; this will help to prevent leaks.
- Refrigerate your pork shoulder for 12-24 hours.
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator at least an hour before you place it in the
- Prepare your smoker, heating to 225 degree F. Remove the plastic wrap and place the
roast directly on the smoker grill. I use a mixture of hickory and apple wood
- Let your pork smoke for at least 90 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F.
- When you think your creation is getting close to finishing use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. For perfect pulled pork you will want that temperature to be between 195 and 205 degrees F.
- Once the pork shoulder is finished smoking you should allow it to cool slightly. Using your hands pull the pork apart.
- Build your sandwich by stacking a large handful of pulled pork on the bun.
- Drizzle a generous amount of the balsamic BBQ sauce over meat.
- Spoon a large spoonful of coleslaw on top and top with sliced dill pickles.
Serving Size:1 Sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1814 Total Fat: 125g Saturated Fat: 46g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 68g Cholesterol: 527mg Sodium: 2721mg Carbohydrates: 52g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 18g Protein: 114g