The Adventures of the Pulled Pork

I was reminded the other that there is slight favoritism towards chicken on my site. The majority of delicious recipes are based on white meat, but in reality, pork meat is white too. Pigs’ lives matter!

Don’t get me wrong, I love pork meat. Vikings have been eating this scrumptious and succulent meat for centuries. The Scandinavian pigs arrived a LONG time ago, before us Vikings. Our domestic pigs in Europe are directly related to the wild boars that emerged in the early Pleistocene age, which is a shit long time ago.

My kids still believe that their grandparents were born in the Middle Ages and that my dad was a famous pirate.

I might have influenced their perception of this a little

Wild boar in Europe has pretty much been eradicated, thanks to the industrialization, expansion of housing areas, and a significant reduction in public land and nature parks. You can still hunt them in some parts of Eastern Europe.

In the USA, the introduction of feral pigs happened when the Europeans arrived on their ships. The explorers and settlers brought these animals here because they knew they are resilient and breed fast. A good pig farm can support a growing community. Unfortunately, the settlers just let the pigs roam the wild, and soon their population exploded.

Wild hogs running around in Texas

A feral pig is ready to breed at around 10 months old and can give birth to 8-12 piglets. It does not take long for the numbers to increase.

Feral pigs can have a devastating impact on the environment. They are tough to contain, causing a significant problem for several states in the US. So much so that you are allowed to hunt them throughout the year, and there are no bag limits.

I’m heading to Texas in the spring to hang out with a good friend, hunt some wild pigs, while families enjoy the pool. I can’t wait!

The Human Factor

The popularity of wild pigs as a game species has played a major role in expanding their range throughout the United States. The sudden presence of wild pigs in new areas is most often a result of 

  • escapes of stocked animals from privately owned, “game-proof” fenced hunting preserves
  • illegal translocation: the practice of capturing wild pigs, transporting them to new locations, and releasing them into the wild

Today wild pigs have spread to more than 20 states within the US, and there’s no sign of stopping. Eventually, the majority of the lower 48 states will have a wild pig population.

Feral pigs are much leaner than domestic pigs. Domestic pigs have more fat, which means some cuts like bacon are much better than domestic ones. I’m told that feral pig has a more game meat taste, more flavorful than domestic pigs.

Now we know the history of pigs, it is time to start cooking fabulous slow-roasted pork pieces, also known as pulled pork.

You need time, patience and plenty of other activities to do while the pork is smoking. The time and waiting is well worth it.

There are many ways and recipes to making pulled pork. It is just a matter of finding one that suits your cooking style, and then adjust it to serve your taste buds and tenderness. It is all in the rub and moisture you choose.

Over the last many months, I have been testing different rubs, and also found an excellent combination of liquid to use. This is what I’ll be sharing with you, once I explain the different cuts you can use.

What piece should you use? Shoulder or butt?

I like big butts!

Contrary to what you might think, the pork butt is not from the butt area. It is from the front shoulder area on the pig. Not exactly the best name for this meat cut.

Illustration of the pork butt

Apparently, the name came from when they packed pork into large barrels in the old days, and the butt piece was used to cover and fill the top of the barrel. As such, it became known as butt … it was the last piece in the barrel.

The pork butt is my preferred and best option for pulled pork. The added marbling renders it more moist and resistant to overcooking. Perfect for us beginners.

When you talk to your butcher, you can customize your butt. Again, this is more of a preference and personal choice.

  1. Skin on or skin off; leaving the skin on will give the butt a lot more fatty and juicy consistency. You will also not need to spray juice on the roast as much, when it is smoking.
  2. Bon in or out; it does not affect the flavor. It just makes it easy when you need to shred the meat.

Overall, slow roasting a pork butt will take 6-9 hours, depending on the size you buy. The bigger the butt, the more time it needs to become tender.

Slow Roasting Time

You only need a few ingredients and tools to make slow roasted butt.

  • Spicy mustard – the amount of mustard needed depends on the size of the butt
  • Honey Run BBQ dry rub – plenty
  • Traeger beef jerky dry rub – generously
  • 1 cup of Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of Worchestershire sauce
  • A can of beer of your choice
  • Meat thermometer
  • Large tin foil tray
  • Tinfoil

Some people like to use plastic gloves when working with meat. I like to feel the meat and massage the butt. Vikings never used gloves. Hands are the best tools for cooking and dealing with meat.

  1. Preheat your Traeger to 190F
  2. Place the meat on a large cutting board
  3. Rub mustard all over the pork butt. Massage that butt!
  4. Sprinkle and rub in plenty of honey run BBQ dry rub
  5. Sprinkle the Traeger dry rub all over the butt
  6. Assuming the grill is ready, place the butt directly on the grate.
  7. Insert the thermometer, making sure it measures the middle of the roast
  8. Set the alarm to 160F, and wait.
  9. It can take 3-4 hours to reach an internal temperature of 160F

Let the waiting commence, but don’t leave the area. Spray the butt every 30-40 minutes with my secret juice.

While the roast is heating up, you should prepare the secret juice you need to use o get the roast moist. This is the most labor-intensive activity during the roasting time.

You need to invest in a sprayer for BBQ adventure. This really helps you when attempting to keep the roast moist. You can, of course, use a basting brush as well. All these choices!

Either way, mix all the wet ingredients in the bowl or spray bottle; beer, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar.

Spray the roast roughly every 30-40 minutes. This helps to keep the roast moist. Moisture and juices will make the pulled pork amazing, tender, and soft.

  1. When the internal temperature reaches 160F, bring it back into the kitchen area, unless you have an outdoor kitchen or work area.
  2. Increase the grill temperature to 275F
  3. Transfer the roast to the tinfoil tray
  4. Pour the juice mixture from your bowl or tray bottle over the roast
  5. Cover the roast with tinfoil
  6. Insert the meat thermometer into the pork, through the tinfoil
  7. Place it back in the grill
  8. Set the meat temperature alarm to 203-205F
  9. Please don’t open the grill until it has reached the internal temperature.

Again, it can take 3-4 hours (or more) to reach the internal temperature. Just have patience.

Once the alarm rings, take out the tray. Be careful, the tray is full of juices, and it is hot. You do not want to spill these juices on your feet or legs … as I’ve done. It is painful.

Let it sit on the counter for 10-15 before you start ‘pulling’ the pork.

I invested in bear claws. These suckers allow you to pretend to be Wolverine even if it is tiny claws compared to his Adamantium blades.

You use these claws to pull the meat apart. It is so much faster than using forks and less painful than using your fingers.

I leave the meat to soak in the juices. It keeps the pulled pork nice and juicy. The juice will ensure that the meat gets soft again when you reheat it after a few days in the fridge.

It is excellent when preparing your meal plan as it allows you to use it throughout the week for lunches and dinners.

The pulled pork is excellent for sandwiches, baked beans, burritos, salads and Pho.

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