Get the most out of dry rubs and time on the grill with smaller pieces.
Forget the full pork shoulder roast, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, and go for the boneless country-style ribs (not really ribs at all). Country-style pork ribs are the best pork to use for pulled pork using this method because there's more surface area in contact with the smoke and it saves cooking time.
Most butchers will simply slice the pork shoulder/butt to make country-style ribs and if the shoulder blade is left in, you'll find bone-in country-style ribs. Because it is reduced to manageable pieces, there's more surface area for the flavor of the rub and smoke to penetrate (ideal for grilling).
Using these techniques, it should only take about an hour on the grill to pick up a good amount of smoke flavor—you're not trying to cook it through at this point because it will finish in the oven.
Of course, you can let it go longer if the wood chips are still providing good smoke and you have the time to monitor temps and keep the surface moist when needed.
Check out this article for more Tips to Get More Smoke Flavor from Your Grill
Recipe for Pulled Pork Sandwiches Using Smoked Chile Pork Rub:
- 4 pounds country-style pork ribs (4-5 lbs)
- 5-6 tablespoons Smoked Chile Pork Rub
- 12 ounces beer -- or 1/2 cup each of apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and water
- Homemade Sandwich Buns -- toasted
- Coleslaw -- optional
Special Equipment: spray bottle (optional)
- Arrange the pork country style ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and rub seasoning evenly over the pork to coat. Place in a zipper bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. *Remember to prepare any wood chips for grilling, if necessary.
- Remove pork from refrigerator and bring to room temperature while lighting and prepping a gas or charcoal grill with wood chips and water pan, with direct and indirect heat zones. Once the grill is maintaining around 325°F, place meat on the grill over indirect heat leaving an inch in between the pieces to not crowd and allow smoke to circulate. Grill for about an hour, rotating the meat halfway through so the closest to the heat source changes. After 30 minutes, spray the meat with apple juice or beer to keep the surface moist.
- Note: During this time, wood chips should be producing a steady stream of smoke. Grilling time can be extended as long as the wood chips are smoking and the internal temperature of the meat doesn't go above 200 degrees.
- Once the meat has been on the grill for an hour or so, heat oven to 325°F. Transfer the pork onto a rack inside of a roasting pan in a single layer and pour beer in the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook in the oven about 2 hours or until pork is 200°F internal temperature when testing the thickest piece. The exact time will depend on the thickness, so it is important to check after the first hour.
- Once the pork has reached 200°F and is tender, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet until cool enough to handle. Using your hands, pick up chunks of the pork and rub it between your thumb and fingers to shred, removing bone, connective tissue and fat as you go. (I like to wear surgical gloves for things like this.)
- Optional: Strain and skim fat from juices in pan. Taste to determine if the juices are suitable to pour over the shredded pork (if you like the flavor, it's a yes)--add a small amount of water to dilute if needed. This liquid can be reserved to moisten the pork when reheated or pour a little into each bag when storing for later meals.
- Toast the buns by lightly buttering each slice and place under the broiler on HI for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. When ready to serve, reheat the pork with barbecue sauce mixed-in 2-3 minutes. Serve 1/2-2/3 cup per serving on each toasted bun, or serve plain with sauce on the side. Top with a scoop of coleslaw, if desired.