Smoked Pork Roast for Pulled Pork Sandwich
Who doesn’t love a well-made pulled pork sandwich, or even a pulled pork plate?
To make this all-American delicacy possible, you need to get a nice piece of pork roast, season it to perfection, cook it the right way and, then, you guessed right, pull it into nice shreds of juicy meat, combined with sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.
This whole process is fairly easy, and all it would need is a bit of time and a whole lot of passion for cooking. In this tutorial, you will learn about the right cut of meat, and the right cooking process, to make this plate your next showstopper.
The Meat: What is Pork Roast?
The first thing you need to get is the roast, itself. For pulled pork, the universally-used portion of the hog is the shoulder. This is commonly known as the “butt,” however, it is not really "the butt" of the pig. The actual rear end of a hog would be the ham. Therefore, if you are not 100% sure what to call it, just ask for “pork shoulder for pulled pork” if you rather ask the butcher directly.
In the opinion of many of us who love juicy pulled pork, we prefer to go with a bone-in cut. A typical bone-in butt will weigh between 4 and 7 pounds, and will produce around 8-10 portions of food. One butt can feed a lot of people, and they will just love the meat. This is because, as you may already know, bone- in cuts tend to take longer to cook, thus leaving meat ultra-flavorful, juicy, and tender.
You can also get your butt boneless. It will cook quicker, that is for sure. Plus, you can still get a nice and juicy pull from this cut of meat. Just be sure to test the inside temperature of the meat and know when to remove the roast from the heat to leave it to rest.
Cooking the meat and pulling the pork.
Once you have your cut of meat of choice, proceed to season it to taste.
The usual spices that are commonly used for pull pork include:
- Garlic salt
- Pepper flakes
All of these spices are optional. Sometimes, a good rubbing of adobo, or garlic salt, would be more than enough to accentuate the flavor of the meat. You do not want to disguise the good stuff and turn it into something that tastes only like the spices. What you want is to keep the natural flavor and taste of the pork. The spices are just extras.
Smoking/Slow cooking the Pork
To achieve maximum flavor and tenderness, be ready to give your meat enough time to slow cook. Typically, you can calculate the time based on the size of the butt. Allow 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound on a butt larger than 6 pounds. Try to keep the temperature under 300, preferably 275 degrees.
After seasoning the meat, fill your Dutch oven with just enough liquid to cover half of the roast.
Some people use plain water to roast, but there are other, more interesting choices including:
- Homemade brine
- Red wine
- Beer (stout, like Guinness)
- Soy sauce/hoisin sauce/water mix
Here are some other important tips, whether you make the roast in a covered Dutch oven, or in the regular oven.
-Always remember “residual temperature.” This is the amount of heat that remains in the meat after cooking, which still continues to cook the meat inside. Remove your roast from heat after it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
Let the roast “rest” for about half an hour after cooking time before shredding the roast into pulled pork.
-It does not matter whether you BBQ, smoke or roast the butt in a Dutch oven. As long as you follow the parameters of time and temperature.
-When using the Dutch oven, be sure to cover the roast as you cook.
Do not try to fast cook it, as the meat and fat content in the meat mix with the gelatin content. Let the process for as long as it takes.
-When smoking the roast, also go for 225 degrees for the smoker, and allow for the pork to reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees. Clearly, the flavor of smoked meat is much more powerful, so it is entirely up to you how you want to make it.
Making the Sandwiches
1. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from heat and wrap the meat in aluminum foil to keep it warm.
2. You will need either a large carving knife or what is known as a “BBQ claw”, which is a four-point took that resembles a bear claw and, just like a bear claw would, it is designed to shred apart anything with tissue.
3. Give the butt about time to breathe so that all the meat is ready for cutting. Use the knife to cut the butt in separate parts.
4. For each part, you will use the bear claws to pull the meat apart. Two forks can do the same thing, as well. All you need to do for shredding is pull the meat apart in opposite directions.
5. If you are using sauce, go ahead and put all the meat together in one container, and pour in BBQ sauce, or whatever choice of condiment that you prefer.
6. As you mix it altogether, get together hamburger buns to put the meat in them.
7. Put meat on each hamburger bun.
8. Add pickles to taste and either mix it with the meat, or serve them on top of the bun, spearing them down with a decorative toothpick.
Pulled pork sandwiches are generally served with a refreshing side that does not compete or take away the focal flavor of the main ingredient, which is the pork itself.
Therefore, some suggestions for a side dish include:
- Cole slaw
- Potato chips
- Potato salad
- Fresh vegetable medley
As you can see, making a pulled pork sandwich is not at all difficult. You can have your favorite pulled pork meal at home anytime you want. Simply select a nice choice of meat, let it slow cook for a while, and then shred apart the delicious meat to make it into sandwiches, plates, or even use the pulled pork as a salad topper!
All you need is a slow cooker, or just a Dutch oven or smoker, a nice carving knife, two forks, or bear claws! This is one of the most fun and delicious meals to make. Not to mention, it can feed an army of up to 10 people per piece! Try it yourself and show us your culinary creation, or share more ideas on how to make a pulled pork sandwich like a champion!
Frequently Asked Questions
What cut is best for pork roast?
There are a number of cuts that might be labeled “pork roast” at the grocery store. Most of them come from the shoulder, which is full of intramuscular fat and is perfect for low-and-slow cooking techniques like this recipe. You may find the shoulder whole, but it’s more likely you’ll find it broken down into the picnic and the butt roasts. You may also find a loin roast, which is less ideal for this recipe since it has less fat.
Is pork loin the same as pork roast?
Pork loin is a primal cut of meat, a large section of meat from a pig that is usually cut down into smaller pork chops. You can find three different kinds of pork roasts from the loin: blade, center, or sirloin roast. Of the three, we like the sirloin roast best for this recipe, although we would recommend finding a roast from the shoulder for the juiciest, most tender pulled pork sandwiches.
What should you put on a pulled pork sandwich?
Once you have your pork smoked and pulled, we recommend tossing it with your favorite barbecue sauce. You can use any type of BBQ sauce, from Alabama white BBQ sauce to a tangy, vinegar and mustard-forward Carolina BBQ sauce. Once your pork is sauced, the rest of the toppings are up to you. Popular pulled pork sandwich toppings include pickles (dill or bread and butter, your choice), shredded cabbage or coleslaw, and sometimes cheese.
How many sandwiches can you get out of a pound of pulled pork?
A good rule of thumb when preparing pulled pork is to buy 1/2 pound of uncooked pork for every person. That means you would only be able to feed two people with one pound of uncooked pork. When it comes to cooked pork, a sandwich typically holds 4 to 6 ounces of pulled pork. That means a pound of cooked pork would feed three to four people, depending on how hungry everyone is and whether you have side dishes.
Can you make pulled pork ahead of time?
Yes, pulled pork reheats very well! Since this recipe takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours per pound to cook, it could take six or eight hours until the pork is finished smoking. It may be better to cook the pork the day ahead, shred it and allow it to cool in the refrigerator, and reheat it the day of the party.