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Tales from the Pit: Pulled pork

Guest post by Martin Goffin, Pitmaster & Owner, Red Gum BBQ

The cut
I have spoken to dozens of butchers each telling me a different name for this cut; it is a minefield. If you’re having trouble sourcing it, Google a picture of a Boston Butt and take it in to show them. A Boston Butt is what the Americans call the cut to make pulled pork.

I have also asked for a forequarter roast with the shoulder blade left in, or a collar butt. I now just ask for a pork shoulder, blade left in with the short ribs or rib plate and the picnic removed. Some people leave the rind on but I like to take it off. It will never make crackling left on and why pay for what you don’t use?

I like to use a sugar and spice-based dry rub on my pork shoulders. I make sure I spray the shoulder with a neutral tasting oil spray as this allows all the spices to dissolve. Cover the shoulder completely with the rub and refrigerate between 30 minutes to 24 hrs. This gives the spices the opportunity to really settle into the meat.

Smoke & Serve
Use a chimney starter with briquettes to light your fire and get your pit up to temperature. I cook my shoulders between 225°F-250°F or 107°C–122°C. Your temperature will fluctuate, this is where your skill of managing a fire comes in. I like to use a number of different Australian natives to smoke my pork. Red Gum is my go-to wood but use it sparingly as it burns hot and is really smoky; Red Box, Mountain Ash and Iron bark are also good.

Cook your shoulders until their internal temperature reaches 195°F–205°F or 90.5°C–96.0°C this takes about 12 hours. There is no hard and fast rule, BBQ is done when it is done. There should be a nice crusty bark on the pulled pork and then you have to answer the big question: to sauce or not to sauce. I serve my pulled pork sauced because I like the moist tastiness of a beautiful BBQ sauce on pork but some Pitmasters believe that this detracts from the natural flavour of the meat. Find your own preference.

Pork shoulders are very forgiving so give it a go. Keep on smokin’!

Red Gum Pulled Pork

Thanks Martin! Visit Martin & the Red Gum BBQ team at facebook.com/redgumbbq