So I’ve been wanting to try my hand at “Hot ‘N’ Fast” pulled pork for a while now. For those of you who don’t know, “hot ‘N’ fast” barbecue is just what it sounds like – you run at a higher temp than normal, and therefore you’re able to cook your meat faster than normal.
For some folk’s, that would be sacrilege. Historically, the cuts of meat used for barbecue are tougher cuts of meat with a lot of fat running through it. By cooking the meat at a low temperature (typically between 225° – 250°F) over a long period of time, you’re able to slowly render a lot of that fat out of the meat without making it tough. Instead, the meat becomes as tender as your mothers love (Credit to Matt Pittman of Meat Church for that line).
However, you can cook at slightly higher temp (I was aiming for 325°F) and still have delicious, tender meat in much less time.
Anyway, onto the cook!
- 2-3.5 lbs Pork Picnic Shoulders (I typically try to cook larger pork shoulders, but frequently I can only find small picnic shoulders like these.)
- 5-6 TBSP of your favorite Sweet BBQ Rub – For this cook I went with:
The night before I planned to cook my pork shoulders I trimmed off any the fat caps and seasoned with my rub. I’ve amassed a small collection of commercially available rubs, and while I like to try new and different rubs from different regions of the USA, it can be fun to make your own rubs. If you’re looking for a place to start, I strongly recommend “Meathead’s Memphis Dust“, from AmazingRibs.com!
Once my shoulders where rubbed up, I wrapped them in saran wrap and placed them in my refrigerator overnight. While the shoulders are in the refrigerator, the salt that is in the rub is slowly bringing the moisture out of the meat. That moisture is in turn dissolving the rub and allowing the dissolved rub to be absorbed back into the meat.
I like to consider myself a student of barbecue, and in that spirit I’ve decided to cook exclusively with lump charcoal for the remainder of this summer. I have no real reason for it. It’s not that I dislike briquettes or anything. I simply wanted the challenge of cooking with a different fuel.
I set my grill up for indirect cooking, with my meat on one side and my charcoal and hickory chunks on the other. I lit two Weber lighter cubes on the one side of my charcoal so for it to burn like a wick from one side to the other. I learned this time around that the best way to do this is with one cube and to “bury it” at the bottom of my lump in the one corner.
I also placed a pan of baked beans under the two pork shoulders. I used Meathead’s recipe for Boston baked beans. FACT: PORK FAT MAKES BAKED BEANS AMAZEBALLS
At this stage I left both the top and bottom vents open on my Weber Performer 100% to let my grill come up to 325°F. Once my grill reached this temp, I choked back the top vent to 50% to keep it from rising anymore. I monitored the temperature of my pork and of my grill by using my handy-dandy wireless Maverick ET-732 thermometer.
I had to refill the charcoal basket at the two hour mark. Then at the three hour mark it was time to wrap the two pork shoulders in tinfoil with a splash of apple juice (about 1/8th of a cup per shoulder). By wrapping in tinfoil and adding the apple juice the pork shoulders begin to basically braise and become tender.
Another hour later (4 hours total cooktime) and these pork shoulders where done. I took them off the grill and wrapped them each in a towel (still wrapped in the tinfoil, of course). If it is going to be a while before you plan to eat dinner, you can keep your pork shoulders (or any large hunk o’ meat, for that matter) hot for hours if you place the towels in a dry cooler. But I was planning to eat these within an hour, so I just left them in a pan on my stove top.
After letting the pork shoulders rest for an hour and a half, it was time to pull! As you can see, the bones slipped out with no trouble. The meat was still hot to the touch, but not to the point of burning my fingers.
I served these to my guests on a hearty supermarket roll with a mustard based sauce that I just threw together with the leftover rub I had used on the pork, bottled mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.
This was my first try at cooking anything using the Hot ‘N’ Fast method, and I have to say it was quite the success! I didn’t find this pulled pork any different from any I had cooked in the past. The only downside was that this was my first time wrapping a pork shoulder, and it did result in the bark not being a little more “moist” than I like it.
But it did beat getting up early on my weekend to cook pulled pork.