Fourth of July Pulled Pork

Listen: Create your own Fourth of July playlist. Ours is rocking right now. This year’s mix is a hope for peace. It includes “Imagine” by John Lennon, “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens, “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan, and “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Sip: We’re enjoying some sun tea this afternoon (recipe posted earlier on blog) while we baste the pork and sing and dance with my son, Charlie. Later, in the shade of our amazing Chinese Elm tree, we’ll enjoy a cool gin, tonic, and lime [Doug goes sans tonic] made with Old Grove Gin from a local San Diego brewery and distillery, Ballast Point.

photo 3-1

the view from under the Elm looking into the canyon...cheers
the view from under the Elm looking into the canyon…cheers

Doug’s Pulled Pork (Warning–Doug always”gilds the lily,” so adjust flavors, ingredients, and quantities to your own taste.) Okay, Gilligan, Ginger, and Skipper, this is definitely not a three-hour tour. The whole Pulled Pork Adventure will take close to 9 hours, so plan accordingly…the trip begins around 9am in order to eat around 6pm.

Prepare the grill by heating it to 250 degrees. We use a Traeger Texas Grill and Smoker from Mt. Angel, Oregon. It’s an amazing invention, and we cook on it almost every night, year-round. It’s an electric grill with a hopper for wood pellets. Today we’re using apple wood pellets. It has a thermostat to control the temperature and a smoking option including a separate, cool-smoke attachment which we use to make smoked cheese and smoked salt. We highly recommend Traeger for grill enthusiasts. Doug’s been cooking on a Traeger since 1993!

our well-used Traeger with the cool-smoke attachment to the right
our well-used, old-faithful Traeger with the cool-smoke attachment to the right

Remove the pork from the frig and let it lose its chill as you prep. Today, we’re using a 6 plus-pound pork butt from Siesel’s in San Diego, our favorite butcher. This will make about 8-10 servings of pulled pork.

Make the rub by mixing the following ingredients together in a small bowl:

  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2T fennel seed
  • 2T kosher salt
  • 1T yellow mustard
  • 1T paprika
  • 1T garlic powder
  • 1T cumin
  • 1T cayenne pepper
  • 1T chipotle
  • 1T ground coffee
  • 1T cocoa nibs

photo 2Taste and adjust seasonings. Bump up flavors as you wish. Doug says the sugar, fennel, and salt are the most important, thus we listed them first. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the rub for the basting sauce and an additional 2 tablespoons for the dipping sauce…see below.

Place the pork in a roasting pan on a rack to raise it above the surface of the pan. Lovingly apply a generous portion of the rub to the pork. Loose bits of rub will drop into the pan, and we say, “hooray!” because all that flavor is still in the pan. Pour one cup of bourbon (Jack Daniels), and enough water to fill the pan with about one inch of liquid. Since it’s going on the smoker/grill, you may want to use a recyclable aluminum pan as we do, and place it on an old cookie sheet for support. photo 3 Place the roasting pan in the smoker/grill and cover the grill. Make the basting sauce by mixing the following together in a glass measuring cup:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup Jack Daniels
  • 2T dry rub

photo 4 Baste the pork as it slow roasts and smokes, and rotate the pan every hour for 5 hours. Maintain a grill temperature of 250 degrees.

This is the pork butt at the end of the 5-hour, slow roasting stage.
This is the pork butt at the end of the 5-hour, slow roasting stage.

After the 5-hour slow roast and smoke, pull the pork off the grill. Turn the grill heat up to 300 degrees. Select a smaller roasting pan that is closer to the size of the pork butt. Place the pork in the pan and discard the water/drippings and recycle the large pan. Fill the new, smaller pan with enough water in the bottom of the pan to fill about 1-2 inches. Pour the remainder of the basting sauce over the butt and let it slide into the water. The pork will now be sitting in the water without the rack. photo 1-1 Cover the pork with foil and return to the 300 degree grill. Braise the pork for 3 hours. Rotate the pan once every hour or so…we’ll post the results when they’re off the grill…

photo 5-2

We’re serving the pulled pork with “corn off-the-cob” (posted) and a fresh cucumber salad made with Persian cucumbers, Sweet-100 cherry tomatoes, and basil from the garden tossed with a bit of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

the easy, garden-fresh salad
the easy, garden-fresh salad
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