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Pulled pork is a classic barbecue dish that involves cooking a pork shoulder or pork butt low and slow until it is tender enough to be easily pulled apart or shredded. While there are many ways to cook pulled pork, using a charcoal grill can add a unique smoky flavor that is hard to replicate with other cooking methods.
To make pulled pork on a charcoal grill, you will need to set up the grill for indirect cooking and maintain a low and consistent temperature for several hours.
The process can be time-consuming, but the result is a flavorful and juicy meat that is perfect for sandwiches, tacos, or other dishes. With the right technique and a little bit of patience, you can create mouth-watering pulled pork on your charcoal grill that will impress your family and friends.
Why should you use a charcoal grill for making pulled pork?
Using a charcoal grill to make pulled pork has several advantages that can make the end result even more delicious. Here are some reasons why you should consider using a charcoal grill for making pulled pork:
- Smoky flavor: One of the main benefits of using a charcoal grill is the smoky flavor that it imparts on the meat. As the charcoal burns and the wood chips or chunks smoke, they infuse the pork with a rich and smoky flavor that is hard to replicate with other cooking methods.
- Even heat distribution: Charcoal grills provide even heat distribution, which is essential for cooking pulled pork low and slow. The indirect cooking method involves placing the meat on the cool side of the grill and maintaining a consistent temperature for several hours. Charcoal grills are ideal for this cooking method, as they provide consistent heat and allow for precise temperature control.
- Tender meat: Pork shoulder or pork butt are tough cuts of meat that require long, slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and make them tender. Charcoal grilling is an excellent way to achieve this, as the low and slow cooking method allows the meat to cook slowly and become tender and flavorful.
- Versatility: Charcoal grills are versatile and can be used for a wide range of cooking methods, including smoking, roasting, and grilling. This versatility makes them an excellent investment for any home cook who wants to experiment with different cooking techniques and create a variety of dishes.
Overall, using a charcoal grill to make pulled pork can enhance the flavor and texture of the meat and create a mouth-watering end result that is perfect for any occasion.
How to make pulled pork on charcoal grill
Here is a basic recipe for making pulled pork on a charcoal grill:
- 1 (4-6 lb) pork shoulder or pork butt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups wood chips or chunks (hickory, apple, or cherry wood)
- Prepare the pork: Remove any excess fat or skin from the pork shoulder or pork butt, leaving a thin layer of fat. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper to make the dry rub. Rub the mixture all over the pork, covering it evenly.
- Prepare the grill: Set up the charcoal grill for indirect cooking. Build a medium-hot fire with charcoal on one side of the grill and leave the other side empty. Add 2 cups of wood chips or chunks to the hot coals to create smoke. Place a drip pan on the empty side of the grill.
- Cook the pork: Place the pork on the grill grate on the side of the grill without the coals. Close the lid and cook the pork low and slow at a temperature of 225-250°F for 6-8 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 195-205°F. Add more charcoal and wood chips as needed to maintain a consistent temperature and smoke.
- Rest and shred the pork: Once the pork reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the grill and place it in a large, shallow dish or tray. Cover the pork with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any excess fat or bone.
- Serve: Serve the pulled pork with your favorite barbecue sauce and sides, such as coleslaw, baked beans, or cornbread.
Note: Cooking times can vary depending on the size of the pork and the temperature of the grill, so it’s important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork. Additionally, be sure to monitor the grill temperature and add more charcoal and wood chips as needed to maintain a consistent heat and smoke.
How long to make pulled pork on charcoal grill?
The cooking time for pulled pork on a charcoal grill can vary depending on the size of the pork shoulder or pork butt, the temperature of the grill, and other factors. In general, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of pork to cook low and slow on a charcoal grill.
For example, a 6-pound pork shoulder would take approximately 9-12 hours to cook at a temperature of 225-250°F. However, it’s important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork, as this is the most reliable way to determine when the pork is fully cooked and tender enough to shred.
The internal temperature of the pork should reach between 195°F and 205°F. Once the pork is fully cooked, it’s important to let it rest for at least 30 minutes before shredding it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes it easier to shred.
Tips for making pulled pork on charcoal grill
Here are some tips for making pulled pork on a charcoal grill:
- Use a meat thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork shoulder or pork butt. The ideal temperature for pulled pork is between 195°F and 205°F. Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone.
- Use a dry rub: A dry rub adds flavor and helps to form a crust on the outside of the meat. Rub the dry rub all over the pork, covering it evenly. Let the pork sit with the rub for at least an hour before cooking, or overnight in the fridge for maximum flavor.
- Set up the grill for indirect cooking: Pulled pork requires low and slow cooking, which means setting up the grill for indirect cooking. This involves building a medium-hot fire on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty. Place the pork on the side of the grill without the coals and let it cook slowly for several hours.
- Add wood chips or chunks for smoke: Adding wood chips or chunks to the charcoal provides smoke that adds flavor to the pork. Hickory, apple, and cherry wood are great options for smoking pork.
- Maintain a consistent temperature: Keeping the grill at a consistent temperature is key to making great pulled pork. Use a charcoal chimney to light the charcoal and add more charcoal as needed to maintain the temperature. Be sure to adjust the air vents to control the temperature.
- Let the meat rest: After the pork is finished cooking, let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before shredding it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes it easier to shred.
- Use two forks to shred the meat: Use two forks to pull the meat apart, shredding it into small pieces. Discard any excess fat or bone.
By following these tips, you can create delicious and tender pulled pork on your charcoal grill that is sure to impress your guests.
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