Susie Bulloch, creator of the blog Hey Grill Hey, shares her mouth-watering Cider Brined Pulled Pork recipe. For more great recipes from Susie, go here.
Cider Brined Pulled Pork
Servings: 8-10 people
1 bone-in pork shoulder or Boston butt 5-7 lbs
Buns and BBQ sauce for serving (if desired)
6 cups apple cider
4 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
Simple Sweet Pork Rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup cracked black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
In a large plastic container or food safe bucket, combine all of the brine ingredients and stir until the salt and sugar crystals have completely dissolved. Be sure the pork is almost fully immersed in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, but no more than 12 hours.
When ready to cook, start your smoker going at 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. While the grill gets up to temperature, remove the pork from the brine and set on a large cookie sheet with raised edges. Do not discard the brine liquid. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Using a meat injector, inject the pork with some of the remaining brine about every two inches across the entire roast. Pour about 6 cups of the remaining brine into a pot and bring to a boil to kill any raw pork germs and discard the rest.
Now that the meat is brined and injected, it is time to rub. Combine all of the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and rub liberally onto your pork butt, using your hands to massage the rub across every surface of the meat.
Put the pork directly on your grill grate, fat-side up, and cook for 3 hours, mopping with your reserved brine every hour after the first hour.
After 3 hours, the pork is going to have taken on as much smoke flavor as it can, so it is time to turn up the heat! Transfer your roast to a large disposable aluminum foil pan and pour about 1 cup of the brine liquid in the bottom of the pan. Increase your grill temperature to 250 degrees F, and cook for 6 to 8 additional hours, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat (but not touching bone) registers 195 to 200 degrees F. If the pork starts to brown too much, you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil. I usually put foil on after the pork has been on for 6 hours or so, but that is personal preference.
Once your pork is up to temperature, remove it from the grill and carefully transfer it to a large cutting board or serving dish and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Pour the juices from the bottom of the aluminum pan into a liquid measuring cup and separate any fat that rises to the top. Now it's time to pull the pork into lovely shreds. You can use your hands, Bear Paws, or whatever method you like Discard the bone and any lumps of fat, including the cap. Season the pulled pork with additional rub (if desired) and moisten with the reserved pork juice.
Serve on buns with BBQ sauce, if you like! Freeze any leftovers in labeled gallon freezer bags. Will keep in the freezer for at least a month for your future use.