I decided that my husband’s smoker has gone unused too long, so last weekend I pulled a pork blade roast out of the deep freeze (I like to shop sales) and put Operation Pulled Pork Sandwich into action. I came up with a rub, a mop sauce, and a time-frame. Mr. ATX Food News manned the pit for most of the cooking time except for the short nap he took from which I woke him screeching about the fire going out. In my defense, it was my first experience smoking pork, and I tend to be excitable.
Y’all, it was amazing. We had pulled pork sandwiches topped with my homemade Sriracha cole slaw (in fairness, I also used a bit of Yellowbird Sauce) that night. The tender and flavorful meat with sweet, slightly vinegary and spicy crunch of coleslaw was a huge payoff for the time spent tending to the smoking temperature. If you’ve been thinking of smoking a pork roast or shoulder, do it. And make sure you have plenty of people waiting to eat it, or else do what I’ve done and re-purpose it into the week’s meals and/or freeze some.
I ended up freezing a batch of meat after enjoying pulled pork a variety of ways. That first night was sandwiches, another dinner was tacos of pulled pork, sauteed onions and red bell pepper topped with Oh Kimchi’s Vegan Daikon kimchi. My husband loved his chopped pork quesadilla, and it was quick and easy to fix. For breakfast one morning, I scrambled eggs, pork, onions, and cheese, and served it with toast. It’s a versatile meat, for sure.
I spent a lot of time researching how I was going to turn this raw roast into delectable deliciousness. I know I was overthinking the process, but in the end, I kept it pretty simple. I prepped the roast by slathering it with a combo of yellow mustard and black pepper, and bringing it to room temperature by letting it rest on my kitchen counter for around an hour. Then I carefully pressed my rub mixture onto it, deposited it into our smoker, and said a quick prayer to the God of Smoking (no, not Aaron Franklin). After a few hours, I began a ritual of spraying my mop sauce on it with a plastic spray bottle, just to add some moisture and, of course, more flavor, once an hour. Whether it was beginner’s luck or not, this was a mighty fine pulled pork, and while pulling it, I ate way more than I’ll admit in a court of law. The bark was salty, sweet, garlicky divine. Please don’t ever skip trying the bark on smoked meats, ohmahgawd it is the best! Don’t be scared off by the look of it, don’t think it will only taste burnt, just close your eyes and nibble. You’ll thank me later.
I cobbled together my rub and mop sauce from about ten different sources, both offline and online. Below are my recipes if you’d like to try them out. If you do, please let me know how it turns out.
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
scant 1/4 c. kosher salt
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 Tb. garlic powder/granulated garlic
2.5 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients well. I’ve found using a whisk to mix them together works quite well.
Kay’s Mop Sauce
12 oz. Guinness beer or other stout brew
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 small onion, quartered
3-4 clovers garlic, smashed or chunked
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let rest for at least an hour, and up to 4 hours. Strain, pouring liquid into a spray bottle. Spritz pork roast once every hour, starting a few hours after smoking has begun.