Big Green Egg Pulled Pork: Kansas City Style

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:

  1. Meat
  2. Dry Rub
  3. Sauce
  4. Injection Fluid
  5. Cooking & Pulling

Preparring Pulled PorkMeat

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.

 

Rub

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.

Kansas City RubRubbed Boston Butt

Sauce

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.

Kansas City Sauce IngredientsCooking Kansas City Sauce

Joe's Kansas City Sauce

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.

Injection Fluid

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.

Lighting a Big Green Egg at 3amInjecting a Boston Butt

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.

Pork Shoulder at 3am

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.

Boston Butt on the Big Green EggPork Shoulder on the Big Green Egg

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.

Resting Pork Shoulder

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.

Big Green Egg Pulled Pork: Kansas City StylePulled Pork on a Bun

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

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  • Keith

    Thanks for sharing, going to try this Saturday and your post will be helpful.
    Keith

  • Steve

    “Fat cap”?? Thanks for sharing

  • Boostable

    Read it, made it, cooked it… Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Probably my best butt yet. I tweaked the sauce a little, but other then that, took it step by step and love it!

    • Joe Gelata

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. How did you tweak the sauce? I haven’t had the opportunity to make this sauce as often as I want (my wife won’t allow me to cook it in the house anymore – and with good reason ;) so any tips to enhance it would be appreciated!

  • ML

    Do you have to refill the charcoal at all during the cook? BGE newbie here

    • Boostable

      ML, put enough in it and you should easily be able to do a 12hr cook without adding anything. I am doing 2 butts tonight for a cookout tomorrow, and will set it and forget it.

  • Scott Crawford

    Made it exactly as described, except for no wood chips. It was amazing. The sauce is sooo addictive. Thanks for the great write up.

    • Joe Gelata

      My pleasure Scott – glad you enjoyed! The sauce is a little scary when you’re making it but when it comes together it’s magic!

  • messmcgee

    Do I brush sauce on while cooking or just use after done cooking??

    • Joe Gelata

      I wait until I’m done cooking then allow everyone to add their own sauce. This gives the dish flexibility in case someone doesn’t like the sauce, wants a little, a lot, etc.

      It might be a fun experiment to add sauce near the end to give it a sticky shell like you would on ribs. Make sure not to do this too early though – otherwise your sticky coating will be carbon armor!

  • Big G

    Doing my first pork shoulder this weekend on the BGE and going to follow your cook time . I have made my own rubs that everybody likes in my family can’t disappoint them . Looking forward to the outcome will post back on how it came out . Going to make a dry and wet patch

    • Joe Gelata

      Good luck! I’m doing one this weekend as well. I’m going to use Cluck & Squeal rub and see how it turns out.

  • pwquigle

    I have been talking about a BGE for a while now and my soon-to-be-wife bought me one as a graduation present for finishing my MBA. This recipe will be my first attempt at cooking on it and I’ll be doing it in T-minus 5 days – I’m going to follow this step by step – it looks amazing! Thanks for posting this!

    • Joe Gelata

      @pwquigle, welcome to the BGE club! It’s a great investment that will provide a lifetime of great eating!

      Good luck with the shoulder! Check back and let us know how it goes.

      • pwquigle

        My first GBE experience is done! For any starters, here is the best advice I
        can give you. Don’t invite a bunch of people over for dinner on your first cook!! There is a lot of learning that I did yesterday that I didn’t expect to
        be doing. Here is how the day broke down. I got up at 3:30a to light the BGE
        for the first time. It was easy – I used the BGE lump charcoal and the BGE starters. In no time the EGG was lite and burning away at about 600 degrees. I didn’t expect it to get so hot so fast. I should also add that this was my
        first time cooking with charcoal as well. It took quote a while to get it down to a steady 225F. The entire cook I basically had all of the vents completely closed (top and bottom). I did the injections per this article and used the recommended rub (both were great). I made the rub Friday and put it on the butt and had the butt in the fridge by 4p. I put a 7.8lb Boston Butt on at about 4:30a. Up to this point, everything was going great. I left the meat untouched for the first 5 hours then started spraying it and adding additional wood ships every hour after that (is that too much? Not enough?). The problems (and I use that term loosely) started about 7/8 hours in when the butt got to 160/162F and stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed there. So long that I thought the meat probe broke so I got two more and added them to the butt.
        They all said the same thing. It stayed at 160F/162F for 4 hours before I decided to up the temp from 225 to 250 – then again from 250 to 275. That
        seemed to get the meat temp rising again until it hit 183/185 then it plateaued
        again! At this point it was about 9:30p and the meat had been cooking for 17 hours. People were starting to get hungry and antsy so I took the butt off at
        this temp, wrapped it in foil and put it in a small cooler for 30 minutes. I took it out after 30 minutes and started shredding it. I had very little hope at this point because it didn’t get to 195F and it did get the full hour in the cooler, but people had to eat, so it had to be done. Much to my surprise, it came apart fairly easily and tasted pretty good. I also learned that I need to transfer the meat from the foil to a plate before shredding!

        Next time, I will do everything EXACTLY as I did it this time with a few minor changes. The rub, I wouldn’t change – it was great. The injections, I wouldn’t change. The apple juice spray, I wouldn’t change. The start time, I would change. I’ll start the butt the night before, probably around 8p/9p. I hope that will give it enough time to break through those plateaus without needing me to up the temperature. My fear is that upping the temp dried out the meat or made it tougher then it could have been. All that being said, the meat turned out good (not great – but pretty good) and I was pleased with the final product. I’m sure that the few extra hours of additional beer drinking and increased hunger levels added to the taste of the meat – but it was really good, pretty tender, and juicy.

        Thanks for posting this article! I’ll trying this again the weekend after next
        and see if the longer cook time helps or hurts. If anyone has any advice, tips, similar plateau problems and solutions, etc, please reply to this! I am open to
        ideas and suggestions!

        • Joe Gelata

          @pwquigle:disqus , you’re moving on to more advanced skills – you’re now a Level 2 Egghead!

          The temperature ‘stall’ is common. I actually ran into a nasty one a few weeks ago and had to pull the shoulder early just like you.

          The stall is caused when the water in the meat evaporates and cools it. Sometimes it cools just enough to plateau the temp – other times it can actually decrease the temp. Although it’s a scary process it’s completely normal.

          There is a way to avoid the stall called the ‘Texas Crutch’. The theory is that you wrap the meat in foil when it hits the stall to prevent evaporation from cooling the meat. Once you reach your target temp you can remove the foil and create the bark. It helps cook the meat faster and gives a juicier result.

          I recommend reading this post: http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/the_stall.html. It goes into the science behind the stall and provides some great tips on the Texas Crutch.

  • MrsR

    Hi. I’ve owned a BGE for several years but am always looking for GOOD recipes for large roasts. How would you do a 6-8 lb sirloin roast (very lean) to make sure it’s nice and juicy as well as tender? Thanks

    • Joe Gelata

      @MrsR, I have a solid recipe for Sirloin Tip Roast that I’ll post someday. Here’s a summary:

      Rub: Brown sugar, Paprika, Garlic powder, Black pepper, Chilli powder, Ground ginger, Sea salt.

      Directions:
      1) Mix rub and apply to roast

      2) Rest rubbed roast in fridge for 5 hours

      3) Remove from fridge and prep Egg to 275-300 degrees with a plate setter.

      4) Smoke with hickory

      5) Cook to 125-130 degrees

      6) Rest in tin foil for 40 minutes

      7) Slice thinly and serve

  • Thomas Syrotchen

    Just wanted to say thands for this write up. I made a pork for the wifes graduation party, it got rave reviews and the sauce was appropriately named just stupid good. Thanks for sharing. FYI, I slipped a little bourbon into the injection.

    • Joe Gelata

      @thomassyrotchen:disqus, my pleasure! I love the idea of a bourbon additive. I’ll have to give that a ‘shot’ next time I do a shoulder!

  • Greg

    How do you add chips during the middle of the cook? Do you take the meat and grate off?

    • Joe Gelata

      Hi @Greg, during a perfect cook I can get away without having to add wood. The trick is to use lots of charcoal and use wood chunks instead of chips so they take much longer to burn.

      Spread the wood chunks over the entire surface of the charcoal (or mix it in) but only light a small area of the charcoal. The best tasting smoke is created at high temperature so you concentrate all the temperature and smoke creation in a small area without increasing the overall temperature of The Egg too much.

      Use large lumps of charcoal so you get the maximum volume of charcoal and still maintain good airflow. Stay away from the little pieces at the end of a bag – they will clog your air flow.

      If you have enough charcoal the burn area should grow slow enough to get you through the entire cook without having to refill.
      In reality I have to add charcoal and wood during most cooks – especially when using a large shoulder. To do this I cover the shoulder in tinfoil and remove it with the gate. I then have a strange looking contraption made from wire coat-hangers that I use to lift out the Plate Setter. Once I add the new charcoal and wood I give it a few minutes to start burning then return the Plate Setter, grate, and shoulder. It’s not a pretty process but it gets the job done.

      On rare occasion I only need to add wood and not charcoal. When this occurs I have a grate that flips up on the side and I can usually cram a few chunks through the space beside the Plate Setter with tongs without having to remove the meat.

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