Smoking a pork shoulder yields a flavorful and tender piece of meat, and knowing how often to spritz pulled pork is a trick worth learning. Smoking meat takes patience and tools, so let’s dive into the process below before you learn how to perfectly spritz your pulled pork for maximum flavor.
How to Perfectly Spritz Your Pulled Pork
Some master smokers use a technique called spritzing. This is a method that ensures the meat does not dry out during the smoking process.
Fill a food-grade spray bottle with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or water. (Some cooks use equal parts apple cider vinegar and water to cut down on the sweetness.)
After the first few hours of smoking, you’ll open the smoker and spray the roast liberally with whatever liquid you choose.
You’ll continue spritzing the meat at regular intervals until the pork has come up to a temperature of roughly 165 degrees.
FAQs about Spritzing Pork
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about spritzing your pulled pork.
Should you spritz pulled pork?
Yes, spritzing pulled pork is a great way to enhance the smokey flavor and keep the bark from burning.
How often should you spray meat when smoking?
Now, there are differences of opinion when it comes to the time intervals between spritzes. Some experts say that spritzing works best at half-hour intervals. Others say spritzing every two hours is sufficient. Ultimately, understanding that the smoke wants to adhere to moisture is important. If you have a small roast, smaller time intervals are best.
How often should I mop pulled pork?
There are plenty of opinions about how often to spray or mop pulled pork. It’s generally considered a good idea to mop the meat roughly every hour to ensure the moisture holds.
Does spritzing help bark?
All professional barbecue chefs agree that spritzing keeps the bark of the meat from becoming dry and allows the interior meat to stay tender and juicy.
Barbecue and Its American History
Countless states across America have their own tradition of barbecue. That stems from the Native American tribes that cooked food on wood over a fire. They called this type of cooking barbacoa. Christopher Columbus carried on this tradition while exploring America and passed it on to conquistadors who followed him.
Each region of the United States has carried its specific traditions and spices for barbecue through the ages. For example, some states have a vinegar-based barbecue sauce while others use a ketchup-based barbecue dressing. Still, other regions use dry spices while smoking their meat.
A few of the most famous states known for outstanding barbecue are Kansas, North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina. Memphis, Tennessee is another map dot that boasts the best barbecue at every single one of 100 barbecue restaurants in the city.
Types of Barbecue Throughout the United States
It’s important to know what types of barbecue there are in each state so you aren’t surprised when you order from a restaurant. Although vastly different, the variety of barbecues across the country gives you a taste of their heritage. Let’s take a look at the different types in each state.
North Carolina is a massive state with two kinds of barbecue to offer visitors. Eastern North Carolina has a recipe that involves at least half a day of smoking the meat before pulling it apart and soaking it in a spicy vinegar sauce.
Western North Carolina barbecue uses a tomato-type sauce and exclusively uses pork shoulder. The Eastern variety is the original taste of North Carolina barbecue to this day.
Texas is so big that there are three main barbecue styles in the state. The Central Texas style uses beef and gets all its flavor from salt, pepper, and the wood used in a long, low smoke.
East Texas uses all kinds of meat for barbecue, including chicken, beef, and pork. It is served in a ketchup-based sauce and typically on a sandwich.
South Texas barbecue is rooted in Mexican techniques that date back to the 16th century. The approach is to slowly smoke the meat in pits underground pits. This style of barbecue is dying because it uses uncommon meats such as cow tongue and goat, and it’s not easy to keep an underground smoke pit. It gets served alongside salsa, guacamole, and sweet, sticky barbecue sauce.
South Carolina is known for using the entire pig in a good old pig roast style. The signature barbecue sauce for South Carolina barbecue is mustard-based, as passed down from German settlers. They pride themselves on the nice smokey flavor achieved from the pit.
Hawaii, although not the first to come to mind for barbecue, is a top competitor in delectable barbecue. They pride themselves on their multicultural heritage and often mix flavors when creating barbecue sauces. The sticky pineapple sauce is the most commonly-used barbecue sauce in Hawaii, and it glazes many types of meat and fish.
What Cut of Pork Should You Use?
Before you endeavor on your pork smoking recipe, you’ll need a great piece of meat. Don’t head to the supermarket just yet! It is a great idea to learn about the different cuts of pork and what you want to use for a smoking recipe.
There are several different pork roasts that most supermarkets sell:
The pork shoulder is meat from the front shoulder and upper front leg of the pig. It is well-marbled and is the cheapest roast out of all the pork. It is fantastic for smoking because of its high-fat content and does best with a low and slow smoking approach.
Pork butt, also called Boston butt, is meat from the pig’s shoulder to the spine. It is often confused and can be interchangeable with pork shoulder since it is adjacent to the shoulder cut. It is similar in fat content and does well with a long cook on the bbq.
The pork hock is a piece of meat in the picnic portion. (The picnic portion includes the shoulder and butt.) The hocks look like chicken drumsticks but bigger. They are excellent in the smoker in a rotisserie setting.
Trotters is another name for feet. Although it is rare to get these from a local supermarket, you can go the extra mile and get these from a butcher. They will take some prep and lots of time for cooking, but the result will be worth the time and effort.
This thin slice of perfectly marbled pork is from where the shoulder and loin come together. It is a specialty cut with roots in Spanish cuisine. Although it gets cooked at high heat, the smoking technique still adds incredible flavor to this cut of pork.
The ribs are a common choice for smoking. Although you don’t get enough meat from the ribs for pulled pork, the ribs still benefit from smoking and spritzing.
The Best Smokers for Barbecue
Now that you know the ingredients for your smoking adventures, let’s talk tools. Smoking meat is a timely investment that is well worth the wait. The right smoker makes all the difference in your experience as a cook, and the results will be evident.
Here are five of the best smokers for beginners:
Masterbuilt Vertical 1050 won the best overall smoker. It is a combination grill and smoker, so it does double duty. You can use charcoal or wood, which determines the flavor of your meat. It gets made in three sizes ranging from 560 square inches to 1,050 square inches.
The best bang for your buck is the Pit Boss Pellet Smoker. This smoker comes in second place for best smokers for value and excellent customer service business. The size is huge, and in comparison to others its size, it is inexpensive.
Coming in at number three is the Masterbuilt Bullet Smoker. This charcoal or wood smoker boasts an easy-to-use design and quality comparable to the Weber Smokey Mountain unit, which is much more expensive.
The Traeger Pro 780 is number four on the list. It is a pellet smoker that offers all the conveniences you could ever want. The WiFi technology built into this smoker allows temp control from your cell phone, among other perks.
And number five is the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker. Although it is at the bottom of this list, it does take number one for the best electric smoker. You can’t mess anything up with this one as you just insert meat, set the temp and a timer, and let it go. Unfortunately, you won’t get a great smokey flavor from an electric smoker.
How to Smoke Your Meat
Now that you’ve got your meat and smoker, let’s get cooking! The reasons you want to smoke meat rather than just cook it in an oven include flavor and tenderness. Pork butt or pork shoulder is extremely tough. Cooking it low and slow will break down those tough fibers and make the meat fall off the bone.
To start, you will want to bring your pork roast up to room temperature. Next, cover the pork in either a dry spice rub or a paste dressing of whatever barbecue style you choose.
Set the smoker to roughly 225 degrees and place pork, with the fat side facing upwards, into the smoker. There is no need to wrap the pork in aluminum foil; just place it directly on the grill grates.
If the smoker is a wood or charcoal style, you’ll want to pick a flavor of wood or charcoal that complements the rub you put on the pork.
The pork will need to cook for roughly 15 hours. The best way to determine if your pork is ready is by inserting a meat thermometer into your roast. Once it reads about 200 degrees, your pork is ready for pulling.