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How to make BBQ pulled pork

Updated: Apr 24

Pork being cooked on a barbeque

If you're planning a summer BBQ or looking to impress your guests with a delicious dish, learning how to make BBQ pulled pork is a must. This mouth-watering dish is a crowd favourite and is perfect for any BBQ catering event. From choosing the right cut of pork to mastering the low and slow cooking technique, this guide will walk you through the steps to creating the perfect BBQ pulled pork.

Choosing the Right Cut of Pork for Perfect Pulled Pork

When embarking on the journey to prepare BBQ pulled pork, selecting an appropriate cut is crucial.

The pork shoulder, often referred to as pork butt, is the choice par excellence for this purpose.

Renowned for its optimal fat marbling, this particular cut ensures the meat remains succulent and flavoursome throughout the cooking process. A substantial fat cap atop the shoulder not only imparts additional taste but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining moisture, making it a critical factor to consider during your selection.

When visiting your local butcher or supermarket, it's advisable to opt for a pork shoulder that displays a generous amount of this fat cap. It's this attribute that significantly contributes to the overall taste and texture of your final dish. Furthermore, size matters in this instance; depending on the number of guests you're catering for, ensure you choose a cut that will satisfy demand. A larger pork shoulder may require extended cooking time, but the result is an ample supply of tender, pulled pork that will delight your attendees.

The essence of BBQ pulled pork lies not only in the seasoning and cooking technique but fundamentally in the quality and cut of the pork itself. By paying close attention to these details during the selection phase, you're laying the groundwork for a truly memorable dish that will stand out in any summer BBQ or catering event scenario.

Preparing Your Pork Shoulder with a Memorable Rub

The initial step towards achieving that delicious BBQ pulled pork begins with the preparation of your pork shoulder using a distinctive rub. A rub forms the foundation of flavour, seeping into the meat during the cooking process to ensure each bite is infused with a harmonious blend of flavours. A traditional BBQ rub might include elements such as salt and black pepper for the base notes, accompanied by paprika for a touch of warmth. Garlic powder and onion powder add depth, while a dash of brown sugar introduces a caramelised sweetness that perfectly balances the savoury aspects of the meat.

To elevate your pork shoulder above the ordinary, consider incorporating additional spices into your rub. Elements such as cumin for a smoky hint, or a pinch of cayenne pepper for those preferring a spicier undertone, can personalise your dish. Moreover, for an aromatic twist, integrating dried herbs like oregano or thyme can introduce a subtle complexity to the flavour profile.

It is crucial to apply the rub generously, ensuring every crevice and surface of the pork shoulder is thoroughly coated. This not only guarantees a robust flavour but also helps to create a delicious crust on the meat’s exterior as it cooks. The act of massaging the rub into the meat not only enhances the penetration of flavours but also tenderises the meat, setting the stage for a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is the hallmark of a superior BBQ pulled pork.

Mastering the Low and Slow Cooking Technique

The essence of producing tender, succulent pulled pork is encapsulated in the low and slow cooking approach. This method involves a prolonged cooking duration at a reduced temperature, typically around 110°C (225°F), to gently coax the meat into a state of sublime tenderness. This technique not only preserves the meat’s inherent juiciness but also allows for the intricate melding of flavours imparted by your rub.

Utilising indirect heat is paramount, irrespective of whether you're employing a smoker, charcoal grill, or your kitchen oven.

Direct exposure to heat can result in the exterior of the pork becoming overly charred before the interior has had the chance to properly cook through and tenderise. Thus, arranging your cooking apparatus to generate heat around and not directly under the pork shoulder is essential.

The meat’s readiness is gauged not by time but by its internal temperature, which should ideally fall within the range of 90-96°C (195-205°F). At this juncture, the pork's connective tissues have sufficiently broken down, allowing for it to be effortlessly pulled apart. It’s advisable to employ a reliable meat thermometer to accurately monitor this.

Patience is a virtue with this cooking method, as the process cannot be expedited without compromising the dish’s texture and flavour. The low and slow technique, though time-consuming, is fundamental in achieving the pinnacle of pulled pork perfection, ensuring it becomes the highlight of any BBQ catering or summer BBQ event.

Finishing with the Perfect BBQ Sauce for Catering

Selecting an impeccable BBQ sauce is the crowning glory of your pulled pork masterpiece. The choice of sauce can significantly influence the dish's final flavour profile, making it imperative to opt for one that harmoniously melds with the spices and seasonings already present in the pork. A variety of sauces are available, from those that favour a sweet and tangy palette to others that introduce a fiery, smoky undertone. It's crucial to consider the preferences of your guests, especially when catering for a diverse crowd at a summer BBQ. For an authentic touch, homemade sauces offer the flexibility to adjust sweetness, acidity, and spice levels to your exact liking, ensuring a tailor-made complement to your pulled pork. Alternatively, quality shop-bought options can provide convenience without sacrificing flavour. The sauce can be brushed onto the meat during its final cooking stages to infuse additional flavour or presented alongside as an accompaniment, allowing individuals to customise their dining experience. Whichever route you choose, the right BBQ sauce can elevate your dish, securing its place as a standout offering at any catering event.

Pink Diamond Catering specialise in catering for outdoor events. Check out our BBQ Menu choices for your event, or get more BBQ hints and tips from our dedicated BBQ page.

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