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Need Help with a family dinner - Pulled Pork

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Shinob1

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I'm hoping you guys can help me out, I have a dinner coming up with my in-laws that I want to knock out of the park. I'm wanting to do pulled pork sandwiches with sides. I'm thinking green beans cooked with bacon, cornbread pudding, and something else, perhaps a potato dish.

The main issue I'm facing is the pulled pork. I don't have a smoker. The equipment I have is a large crock-pot, and an oven. I know this won't be a true "bbq", but my thoughts are on how I can slow cook the pork butt.

I'm thinking I could put it in a roasting pan, covered in foil for 225 for 10 hours or brown the meat and then stick it in the crock-post for 10 hours, (mine has a 10 hour setting). If I go the crock-pot route, how much liquid should I use? I've read that 1 cup is the most you'll need, previously I had filled the crock-pot with liquid to where it almost covers the meat.

Any tips on how to prepare the beans and any ideas for sides would be greatly appreciated.
 

stereo.pete

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Save the pork drippings for the beans to add that extra punch. I am in the same boat as I do not have a smoker but I routinely will slow roast a pork butt in the oven overnight at about 225 degrees. Make sure you have a decent rub recipe and it will be finger licking good, but watch out because when you take it out of the oven and start cutting into it, you might end up eating it all yourself.
 

stereo.pete

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P.S. I don't pretend to be someone who has a talent at putting together complete dishes but you will need something acidic with those rich foods. Perhaps make your own pickles or pickle something, just some thoughts. Oh yeah and good luck and pictures are mandatory. :cop:
 

Lucretia

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When I smoke a pork butt, I finish it in a 200 degree F oven overnight. It won't be overcooked--sounds like stereo.pete does his overnight, too.

If it were me (just making this up off the top of my head), 2 days ahead of time I'd make up a rub of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, black pepper, and a little allspice. (Ingredients listed in order of quantity.) Smoked paprika is great if you can find it, and will help add a smoky flavor. You might even want to add a few chugs of liquid smoke or some chipotle powder (if you like spicy bbq) to add a little more smoke flavor. Rinse the butt and dry with paper towels, and rub the seasoning into the meat. Wrap it with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator overnight. One day ahead of time, remove the butt from the fridge about an hour before you're ready to cook it. I'd toss it uncovered in a 400-ish degree oven for about 10 minutes to brown it up some. Remove from the oven, reduce heat to 200-225 degrees, cover the butt well, and stick it back in the oven overnight. No additional liquids.

For sides: cole slaw (good as a side, and some people really like it on their bbq sandwich). Corn is coming into season, and if you can find some wonderful corn on the cob, it's good with bbq. Potato salad and baked beans are also classics. A nice thing about many of these dishes is you can do the prep work well ahead of time. And if you split your rolls, slather them with garlic butter, and then toast them before you make your sandwiches it's really nice.
 

tgraypots

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P.S. I don't pretend to be someone who has a talent at putting together complete dishes but you will need something acidic with those rich foods. Perhaps make your own pickles or pickle something, just some thoughts. Oh yeah and good luck and pictures are mandatory. :cop:

definitely slaw for the acidic part, as Lucretia mentioned. Finely chopped cabbage, apple cider vinegar, sugar and a little ketchup or bbq sauce is simple and tasty.
 

Eamon Burke

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Rub it with spices, especially smoked hungarian paprika, then put it in your oven at 225. All your missing is smoke.

For pulled pork bbq sauce, go thin, acv for tartness, liquid hickory, and shoot for sweet and smokey, not spicey or tart(though you need some of all 4).
 

Namaxy

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I have a big offset smoker, but sometimes if I have to be away or don't want to get up in the middle of the night to add wood, I'll smoke the meat for only a few hours and finish in the oven, as others have described. Do you have an outdoor grill of any sort? It would be a pain to try to smoke long term on a grill, but you could for an hour or two with just some wood chips wrapped in foil. I've done this on friends' gas grills. Soak the chips in water, wrap in a foil pouch, pierce it with a fork a few times and heat over the grill until it smokes. Keep the meat away from the heat - only heat the side of the grill with the chips.

And I second everyone's thought that coleslaw and pickles would be a good addition!
 

SpikeC

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I have some smoked sea salt that adds a great smoky hit in a dry rub.
 

mhlee

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Don't bother with the crockpot. I can't imagine a full butt fitting in one, but, even if it's large enough, a crock pot isn't what you'll want to use because it's a sealed environment. You'll have watery pork that has no crust. Use the oven.

I would go with a combination of all the recommendations here. Smoked salt, smoked paprika and even liquid smoke if you want (I know liquid smoke is heresy). Since you're not actually smoking it, and if you want to further increase the flavor in the pork, you might want to also consider using an injection. Let the rub penetrate and marinate for at least 24 hours. I've had relatively good results letting the injection penetrate for 24 hours as well. However, I WOULD NOT let any injection with a lot of salt or vinegar (still can't believe people put vinegar in an injection IMHO) penetrate for too long.

Cook it at, at least, 250 uncovered. I recommend this temp over lower temps because it will take a noticeably less amount of time, you'll have better crust development and you'll render out more fat. At lower temps, you may end up with pockets of fat that have not sufficiently rendered. I also don't cover or wrap the meat because it inhibits the creation of a crust.

Use a remote thermometer if you have one to make sure the temp gets to 170-175 (for slicing), over 185 for pulling and shredding. If you want a crunchier crust, increase the temp for the last 15 minutes or so to 350. Let the meat rest at least half an hour before serving. You can cover it or wrap in foil now. If it's done well in advance of the dinner, you can double wrap in foil and put it in a cooler and cover it with bath towels. It will keep very warm for 4 to 5 hours using this method.

If you want to go with commercial products and recipes, I recommend Big Bob Gibson's rub, competition red sauce and pork injection recipe. I've personally used all of three.
 

99Limited

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Lucretia's is spot on. As far as the crust goes, since you're not smoking the pork, I wouldn't worry about it. Keeping the roast wrapped while cooking will help make the roast nice and moist. You could also use a cooking bag.
 

Shinob1

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Thanks for the advice so far. I think I'm 100 percent going to use the oven. My plan was to cook it for 10 to 12 hours. I thought about putting it in around Midnight the night before and taking it out around noon the next day. The sides I'd like to prepare ahead of time or while the meat is cooking that morning.

I'm also going to do some coleslaw for sure, does anyone have a good recipe? Need specifics on the quantities of the ingredients.

As for the green beans, I've never used fresh beans before, (I know shame shame!). What do I need to do in order to prepare them? Do I just give them a wash and put them in to a pot that had bacon cooking in it with some stock? How long do they need to cook for?

Thanks again for all of the help!
 

mhlee

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How to cook green beans depends on what kind of end result are you looking for. Are you looking to make stewed green beans that are very soft, or something where the green beans are tender, or still crisp.

Personally, we cook green beans often and never stewed. We blanch them in salted boiling water until just cooked through, about 5 minutes, then shock them in iced water until cool. Then render lardons of bacon until crisp, take out the bacon, add aromatics like shallots until wilted, then add the blanched green beans until cooked through, salt and pepper, add a touch of stock if you'd like, then finish by adding the reserved bacon. You can add nuts - almonds, walnuts, for crunch - or use pancetta for a different flavor (and top with shaved parmesan).
 

apicius9

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I like my green beans more like the Greek make them, sweat some shallot in olive oil, add the beans for a moment, add chunky tomato sauce/chopped peeled tomatoes, season and simmer until the beans are very soft.

Stefan
 

BobCat

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:plus1: on the smokey paprika. We like Pimenton de la Vera picante, a hot spanish paprika. Great flavor to pork.

Green beans: meh
 

Shinob1

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I don't know if you all have been to City BBQ, but it's there green beans that I am trying to recreate. I'm 99 percent sure they are stewed.

However if I were to abandon green beans in favor of baked beans, how would I go about it? Previously all I've done is open a can up and heat it.
 

SpikeC

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For cole slaw I like to use napa cabbage. I mix some seasoned rice wine vinegar into some mayo for the dressing, and add some grated veggies that are handy. It always goes over well.
 

sw2geeks

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I have a smokers so I am just thinking off the top of my head, but if you want a crust I have had good luck hitting the outside of beef roast with a blow torch before roasting at a low temp. Also I would make sure your roasting pan is deep so it can hold all the melting fat without overflowing.
 

Lucretia

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Shinob1, I'm starting to get a little nervous about this. One of the cardinal rules for a successful dinner party is don't cook anything new. Not that anything you're doing is that complicated, it's just that you won't be familiar with the quirks and timing. And the family WILL crowd into your kitchen and interrupt at crucial times to tell you that great-great uncle Henry's second cousin's dog has fleas, and oh, by the way, I can't find a bottle opener can I use your knife to open my beer...let me just grab it from you for a minute while you put out the fire on the stove. One thing you might want to do with the pork is go ahead and try it. If it doesn't get done on time, is dried out or nasty, you don't have a train wreck in front of family. If it turns out well, you can put the pulled pork in the freezer, and when it's time for the family meal put in in the crockpot with a little stock or bbq sauce to slowly warm up to make your sandwiches.

Cole slaw is something you can experiment with in small batches. Starting with shredded cabbage & carrots, I like mine with mayo, sugar, lime juice, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Or mayo, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, sugar, salt, pepper, ginger, mandarin oranges, scallions & sunflower seeds. It all boils down to what you like. Start with what looks like enough mayo to lightly coat your cabbage, start adding things a little at a time, and taste as you go along. Season the cole slaw sauce a little more strongly than you want the final result--the flavors will fade a bit as the cole slaw sits and chills.

Doctoring a can of baked beans can give a pretty good result. Dump your beans in a casserole dish and add a couple good squirts of ketchup and plop of mustard. Add brown sugar to suit your taste & some onion powder for flavor. Stir and taste--adjust seasonings. Also good to put some bbq sauce in there. Put a couple of strips of raw bacon on top, and bake at 350-375 for 1/2-1 hour until bubbly. Beans are pretty forgiving, and will sit on the counter and wait for you.

To prep green beans (aka "string beans")--holding the bean in one hand, grab the tip of the bean with the other and bend it until it snaps, then pull down the length of the bean to remove the "string". Repeat with the other end of the bean.
 

Namaxy

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I think one of the keys to coleslaw is sweating the water out of the cabbage before dressing it. Slice the cabbage and toss it around in a colander with a few large pinches of salt. Let it stand in the sink for a while.....it will give off a lot of water and result in crispier, less watery coleslaw. I can come up with a more specific recipe if you like.

For your green beans, I'm not familiar with the restaurant you are trying to emulate, but I love roasting them, and it's a forgiving, non time critical method. Just put the beans in a roasting pan with several peeled and halved shallots, a few glugs of olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven until tender. The shallots caramelize and sweeten the beans. This can be done the night before, or the morning of, and then needs just a quick reheat.
 

Shinob1

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Lucretia, I think you're right, I need to dial down the amount of new things I'm trying. I'm working from home this week so I can make everything ahead of time, (dinner is Saturday). Worse case I'll head out to our local BBQ joint to pick up sides, etc. The main thing I want is for the pulled pork to be really good.

How can I tell when the pork is done? I have a thermometer with a remote, so monitoring tempature is no problem. I read that it has to hit 200 to breakdown the fat. When should I pull it out to rest?
 

lowercasebill

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just saw the cooks illustrated spring time menu magazine.. feature article on making pulled pork in the oven at home.. i did not have time to read it before work but it looks like just what you are looking for ..
send pm if i can help .. i cook mine on big green egg but no experiece doing in the oven
and you want to take the pork to 195 + or - . poke at i with your themo pen to check the tenderness as well
 

adletson

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I've cooked well over 1,500 lbs of pulled pork in the last couple years in a lot of different ways and I can attest it is a very forgiving dish. Couple of thoughts:

1. How much do you need to make? I always figure on 50% yield by weight. Some have boasted they can get 60% but I have never gotten higher than 53%. I usually plan a generous 6 oz cooked pork per diner. That would mean for 20 people you need 120 oz cooked or 240 oz or 15 lbs precooked. You may already have that figured out but thought I would mention it.

2. When I'm mass cooking pork for a crowd, I don't worry about crust or bark as to me it is largely lost in the final product. That is up to you, but I wouldn't stress over it. I don't even season the outside of it for that reason. I just unwrap and throw it in the cooking vessel. I've found you can cook pulled pork as high 350 degrees and have a virtually indistinguishable product, but the window of optimum doneness is much smaller. Since it sounds like you have never done this before, I would go with 250 degrees and figure on 2 hours per lb of whole pork butt (10 lb butt, allow 20 hours). It probably won't take that long, but if it finishes early, whole, unpulled pork butt wrapped in aluminum foil holds beautifully and can be stashed in a cooler with towels for 4 or 5 hours without ever going into a dangerous temp zone.

3. Pork is done when it's done. I know that sounds pretentious and unhelpful, but temps can fail so often. 195 is usually a good goal to shoot for, but you want to make sure the whole butt has broken down and tender. One of the quickest to get illogically and hysterically angry is to try and pull a butt that is not quite done (speaking from experience). I would recommend taking the probe of the therm and poking all over it, making sure it says at least 195 everywhere and that it glides in with little resistance all over.

4. Pulled pork is dry. I don't care who you are or what you do, when you pull pork and expose all that surface area to air, evaporation wreaks havoc. That is why I always reserve as much liquid as possible from the cooking process and add it back as necessary. One great way to do that is with cooking bags. I would start the butts out unwrapped until it looks like the outside has dried out some (maybe 120 to 140 degrees) and then wrap them in the cooking bags. This will not only save the liquid for you, it will also prevent a big mess. These roasts will put out a gratuitous amount of moisture. Be forewarned. I have woken up to a kitchen floor full of pork fat before where it overran the sheet pan underneath it and leaked out the oven door.

5. My usual finishing sauce is 3 parts reserved liquid, 2 parts white vinegar, 1 part BBQ sauce of choice. Add salt and bbq rub also as necessary to get the flavor you want. If you want a more neutral finished product, use reserved liquid, vinegar, butter, and salt. That will allow more flavor room for sauce on the sandwich if desired.

6. I have never seen any advantage to injecting unless you are presenting the roast in a whole, unpulled form. If you are going to pull it, you have access to the inside of the meat anyway and it is much easier to flavor it when you can taste it.

7. If you want to make baked beans, let me know. I've got a great recipe that is virtually impossible to screw up and has turned out great whether made for 250 people or our family for dinner.

Sorry for the rambling. Hope this helps and that it turns out great!
 

Pensacola Tiger

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If you want to make baked beans, let me know. I've got a great recipe that is virtually impossible to screw up and has turned out great whether made for 250 people or our family for dinner.
You've made me want to make some, so post the recipe, please.

Rick
 

chazmtb

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My secret rub, anything that I can find but usually, garlic powder, seasoned salt, chilli peppers, light brown sugar and smoked paprika.
I use a large home made Alton Brown terra cotta smoker with the electric heating element, natural lump coal and hardwood wood for smoking (mesquite).

I smoke my butt for about 5-6 hours where the internal temp is at about 140, wrap it in foil and finish it off in the oven where I can control the temperature more easily. I set the internal temperature at 180, because I like the meat more firm and less mush. I have done it where it was at 200 internal temp and it was too mushy for me.

Definitely do it in the oven. Leave it uncovered for about 5 hours at 225-250. Wrap it in foil after that and let the meat go to your desired temperature. If you want a little smokiness, add liquid smoke to it, just a tad.
 

adletson

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Keri's Hog-Apple Baked Beans

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 12-15, depending on how much meat is put in

Software:
1 lb bulk pork sausage
1 green pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 28-oz cans Bush's Baked Beans, drained
1/2 c. favorite BBQ Sauce (I prefer Sticky Fingers)
1 can apple pie filling, apples diced
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. prepared Mustard
1 tsp cayenne powder (optional, to taste*)
1 tsp BBQ rub of your choice

Hardware:
Large skillet
2 9x13 pans

Preheat oven to 325º.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage, making sure to thoroughly break it apart, and remove to a plate. Drain all but 2 tblsp fat from the skillet. Sauté onion and green pepper in the skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. In a very large bowl, mix the sausage, onion, green pepper, and remaining ingredients. Pour the beans into two 9x13 pans and bake, uncovered, at 325º for 1 hour or until the beans have thickened.

*This is a rather spicy recipe due to the chipotle/cayenne powder. Feel free to leave it out if you'll be feeding those who prefer a less spicy taste.

*If serving as a main course, substitute 1 lb. smoked leftover smoked pork or beef for the sausage.

Hope everyone enjoys!
 

mhlee

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I'm just going to add one comment here because I agree with most things here. I have found a noticeable difference in the flavor of interior meat using an injection because you're seasoning right from the start and allowing both salt and sugar (usually) to penetrate. I think the key is using a sufficient amount of salt and sugar to season the interior meat. Granted, covering all of the meat with sauce before serving eliminates the need for injecting; however, if you just put the meat out without sauce, there is essentially no seasoning in or on the interior meat, which is how I prefer to serve it.
 

chazmtb

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For me, after the pork is pulled, I season it with vinegar and salt to taste. I usually use balsamic vinegar. People can put sauce on afterwards, but I like to have my meat seasoned before it is presented. Haven't heard of a complaint yet.
 

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