Slow Smoked Pork For a Great Sandwich
Everyone knows the wonder of a good pulled sandwich. The tender, juicy, smokey pork covered in a rich barbecue sauce just can't be beat no matter how much of a barbecue snob you might be. And the best part about it isn't the amazing taste, but how easy it is to make this dish from home.
The convenience of a sandwich only gets more convenient when you learn how to make slow smoked pork. How do you make this recipe? What do you need to get started? We'll cover these and other important questions as we go over the details of how to make slow smoked pork for a great sandwich.
What You Need
In order to make slow smoked pork, you'll need to get a few things. Unlike with typical barbecue recipes, these ingredients will cover both what you'll need for the pork itself as well as what you'll need to make sandwiches with it.
- Charcoal smoker
- Meat Shredding Claws
- Chunk charcoal
- Wood chunks or wood chips (details below)
- Instant read thermometer
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic spray bottle
- 1 gallon bucket or large other container
- Barbecue sauce of choice
- White bread rolls
- Coleslaw (optional)
- Apple cider
- Granulated white sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Pork shoulder roast (~8 lbs)
The wood chosen for smoking is just as important to the overall success of a recipe as the kind of meat you choose to smoke. Traditional southern barbecue typically uses woods like hickory and white oak, though fruity woods like apple, peach, or pecan are also common. Find the woods and flavor combinations you like the best and go with that.
Once you've gathered all your ingredients and tools, you can finally start cooking.
Step 1: Brining the Pork
To help retain moisture during a long smoke and to add extra flavor to your pork, soak it in a brine. Place your pork shoulder into a large gallon bucket, stock pot, or other container big enough to fit it with some room to spare. Add in enough apple cider to cover the top (about a quart or so for the size listed in the What You Need section).
Next, combine five tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar with two tablespoons salt and paprika, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder, onion powder, and freshly ground black pepper, mixing until well combined. Add about a fourth of a cup of that mixture to the cider brine, stirring until dissolved and saving the rest for later. Let them brine sit covered in a cool location for at least 12 hours and up to 24.
Step 2: Seasoning the Pork
After the pork shoulder has finished its brine bath, remove it from the container and pour out the liquid, reserving about a cup and transferring that into a plastic spray bottle. Thoroughly pat the pork dry and proceed to liberally rub in the remaining spice mixture, letting the meat sit out at room temperature for half an hour (if you're using wood chips instead of chunks, you can begin soaking them in hot water around this time, too).
Step 3: Lighting the Smoker
As you wait for the meat to warm up, begin the process of warming up the smoker, too. Load in your charcoal and light, closing the lid to help it build up more heat. The target temperature for this smoke is about 215 degrees Fahrenheit, with a cooking time of close to 8 hours. After getting up to temperature, add on your wood and fill the water tank, placing your grate onto the heat and closing the lid once again to let the smoke and humidity build up inside the smoker.
Step 4: Smoking the Pork
Once both your pork and your smoker have come up to temperature, you can proceed to smoking. Place your pork shoulder onto the center of the grate and close the lid. Over the long cooking period, make sure to carefully monitor the amount of charcoal, wood, and water left in the smoker, adding more of each as needed. Additionally, pay attention to the air vents to ensure that your heat remains consistent. If you suspect the meat may be starting to burn on top, you can tent it with aluminum foil for the duration of the cook or lower the temperature accordingly.
Every half hour or so, spritz the meat down with the reserved brining liquid you collected in the bottle, shaking well before each use. This will keep it moist and add extra flavor as it cooks, with the sugar caramelizing a bit on the outside, too. The pork is done once the internal temperature reaches somewhere around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches that target temperature, remove it from the heat.
Step 5: Resting the Pork
When your meat has finished cooking, place it on a cutting board or into a large bowl, tenting loosely with foil and allowing it to rest for at least ten minutes. Resting the meat helps the cooking process finish completely, as residual heat within the protein passes through the whole of the shoulder evenly. The internal temperature will rise several degrees at this point, making it even more tender.
Step 6: Assembling the Sandwich
After your pork has had a chance to rest, you can finally move on to making your sandwich. Shred the pork apart either by hand or with a fork. Due to the degree of tenderness it's been cooked to, it should come apart with no problem. While it's not tradition, many people choose to toss the shredded pork in barbecue sauce at this point for extra flavor.
Split open a bun and pile on some of your delicious smoked pork. Top with coleslaw if desired and serve. Like you'd find at any restaurant, barbecue sauce should be provided on the side and used as a topping to bring some extra sweetness to the savory pork.
Now you've got the know how to make your own slow smoke pork sandwiches like a traditional barbecue pit master. Though it might take some time, the end result is more than worth it once you take your first bite of that delicious meat.
Did you like this recipe? Any tips on slow smoking pork or making barbecue sandwiches? Leave a comment down below and tell us, and don't forget to share this page with any friends who have yet to try an amazing pulled pork sandwich for themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Wood for Smoking Pork?
Pork is a good all-purpose meat that can be smoked with a variety of woods. Hickory and Mesquite are very strong woods and can overpower the delicate flavor of the pork, so it is recommended to blend these woods if you wish to use them. Other good woods are Apple, Maple, or Cherry. These woods can also be blended.
How Do You Shred Pork Using Shredding Claws?
Shredding claws are designed to quickly and easily shred a pork shoulder. They are very sharp and have knives at the end, so be careful when using them. Place one shredding claw in each hand and press downward into the flesh of the pork shoulder. If you have cooked the pork properly, the meat will easily fall apart as you push into the shoulder. Continue until the entire shoulder has been shredded.
How Many Sandwiches Can You Make with One Pork Shoulder?
If you are making sandwiches with about 6 ounces of meat, you should be able to make about 8 to 10 sandwiches from one pork shoulder. Most pork shoulders weigh about 5 pounds and lose about 40 percent of their weight while cooking, which would make about 3 pounds of finished meat.
What Type of Bun Should You Use for a Smoked Pork Sandwich?
Soft buns like potato buns are the best choice for pulled pork sandwiches. They will hold in the meat as you eat, preventing the pork from slipping out the back and onto your clothes. They also create a nice texture alongside the soft pork strands. Using a crunchy bun (like ciabatta or baguette) would distract from the eating experience.
What Toppings Do You Put on a Pulled Pork Sandwich?
Some pulled pork sandwiches are very simple - just pork, bbq sauce, and bun. Other sandwiches add coleslaw or pickles to add crunch and tang to the eating experience. You could also add grilled onions or peppers if you wish to add some depth of flavor.