There are many styles of BBQ and I enjoy most but my favorite has to be Kansas City style. Low and slow, sweet and spicy, thick and juicy – you can’t beat it! I recently threw a surprise birthday party for my fantastic mother and knew there was only one way to truly show our appreciation for her – Big Green Egg Pulled Pork: Kansas City Style.
I spent many hours scouring the Internet and flipping through cookbooks to find the perfect combination of components that would come together for this feast. Below is the final recipe. It needs no further modification and will long live as my standard pulled pork recipe.
Big Green Egg Pulled Pork: Kansas City Style
Like all great barbecue there is no easy way to great taste. It’s not as simple as throwing some meat on a flame then eating it. This recipe has several components that all work together to make this masterpiece:
- Dry Rub
- Injection Fluid
- Cooking & Pulling
I go with the standard cut for pulled pork – a Boston Butt. Despite the name, this is actually pork shoulder. I prefer bone-in with a thick layer of fat. The size depends on how many people are eating but I find about 8 lbs is usually a nice, tasty size. I get mine from Brady’s Meat & Deli in Waterloo, ON.
I found a great Kansas City dry rub by Derrick Riches on About.com’s BBQ & Grilling site. You can find the recipe here. I cut out the salt because I’m pretending to eat healthy but I’m sure it taste great with it too.
The afternoon or evening before cooking I cut the blanket off the pork leaving as much fat as possible. Then I ‘rub the rub’ into the shoulder and pop it in the fridge until it’s time to cook. At this time I also prepare the sauce and injection fluid.
The only way I can describe this sauce is ‘stupid good’. When I was cooking up my first batch I became worried I had over-dosed on vinegar because of the strong smell (this is actually normal). I tasted a spoonful to make sure I was still on track then proceeded to eat a bowl of the sauce – it’s really that amazing. It gracefully slides into your mouth with a thick, sweet taste courtesy of the brown sugar and molasses. Then it gently punches your taste buds with a fist full of heat that quickly disappears leaving you wanting more. This sauce will forever more have a place in my fridge.
I came across the recipe on AmazineRibs.com. You can find it here. I use about 3/4 of the listed vinegar. You can increase/decrease depending on how tart you like your sauce. You can also raise or lower the heat depend on your preference. This sauce is designed to be double-cooked; once when it’s mixed then again on your meat while it’s cooking. However, I find it’s just as good slathered on meat after it’s been cooked.
This component is by far the fastest and simplest to prepare. I simply mix the ingredients in a jar and it’s done. The actual injection doesn’t happen until right before the meet goes on the Big Green Egg but it’s nice to have it ready before hand. I’m not sure where I came up with this concoction but I assume it’s a hybrid of several different recipes. Here’s what I use:
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
Cooking & Pulling
The final steps are where everything comes together. I get up at 2:30am to get things going. First I mix wood chips and set them to soak. I use hickory, apple wood, and a touch of maple. Next I light the Big Green Egg. While it’s warming I inject the meat with the injection fluid. When the temperature is up to about 250 degrees I drop in about a third of the wood chips, load the plate setter, place a drip pan on it, place the grill on top, and add the pork. There’s a long-standing debate about whether to place the fat cap up or down. I’m not married to either method so I just add it whichever way it happens to be sitting after I run it.
With the addition of the wood chips and plate setter the temperature drops a few degrees. The goal for the pork is to reach an internal temperature of 195 degrees. At this temperature the connective tissue in the meat breaks down making it easy to pull. To get to 195 degrees I cook at about 210-225 degrees for 1.5 hours per pound. At 8 pounds it’s a 12 hours cook.
I don’t touch the meat for the first 4-5 hours (mainly because I’m back in bed sleeping or feeding kids breakfast) but I check it occasionally after that. Each time I spray the shoulder with apple juice and add some wood chips. For the last few hours I don’t add any more smoke. At this point in the cook the pores in the meat have closed due to the heat so smoke won’t be absorbed and can even give the meat a chemical taste.
Once the meat is at 195 degrees I pull it off the Big Green Egg and wrap it tin foil. I let it rest at least an hour or even longer if the rest of the meal isn’t ready. The meat holds the heat for a long time so there’s no rush.
Just before the meal is served I unwrap the shoulder and place it in a serving dish. Then comes the best part of the process: I pull out the bone. You have to do it to truly appreciate the beauty. The bone is lodged in there before the cook but after it slides out like it’s coated in butter. Then I squash the meat with my hand and watch it fall to pieces. I finish by pulling the remaining chunks of meat into smaller pieces using a pair of forks.
To serve I pile the pork on a warm bun and douse it in the sauce. Then it’s chow time! I usually put back a pile without the bun just to get a pure taste of the masterpiece. I’ve cooked a lot of things on m Big Green Egg but this is by far my favorite. It’s an investment in time to prepare and cook but it’s well worth every minute.