Pulled Pork a la Alton

I adapted Alton Brown’s molasses brine to make one of the most tender and moist batches of pulled pork to ever come out of my Big Green Egg.

2 quarts water
12 ounces kosher salt
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon chili powder
Basic Pig Rub (or your favorite barbecue rub)

6 to 8 pound pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)

The Brine

Combine molasses, salt, chili powder, 1 tablespoon of the rub, and water in 6 quart stockpot over medium heat. Stir and cook only until the salt has dissolved and everything is well-combined. Remove from heat and let cool.

Trim excess fat from pork shoulder. Make shallow cuts through the remaining fat cap every half inch or so.

Put the roast in a big Ziploc bag and add the brine. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. I like to put the bagged roast right back in the stockpot and arrange it so that the meat is fully covered by the brine.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, overnight is better yet.

The Cook

Remove the roast from brine and pat dry. Dust heavily with barbecue rub, working it in with your hands to get a good coating. Wrap the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Set up your cooker for an indirect cook of at least 18 hours at 225°F. Add some chucks of pecan or hickory for smoke. Use a drip pan to catch the fat as it renders off.  Pork butts take about 2 hours per pound to cook at this temperature, so this is really a job for a smoker or ceramic cooker.  I like to set it up as an overnight cook starting at 6pm so I can plan on serving pulled pork for lunch the next day.

Begin checking butt for doneness after about 10 hours of cooking. Pork butts are done when the collagen and connective tissue has melted into tasty gelatin and the meat literally starts to fall apart. I like to get mine to about 190°F internal, and then wrap it in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and put it back on the cooker for another hour or so until it reaches 210F internal.

When the butt is done, remove it from the cooker and let it rest in the foil for an hour. When it has cooled a little,  pull the meat apart using a couple of forks (or better yet, a pair of these bear paws) to separate the fibers. The idea is to remove all the remaining inedible bits, break the meat down into bite-sized pieces, and ensure an even distribution of the chewy bark.

I like to serve it on cheap white buns with dill pickles, sweet potato chips and an assortment of barbecue sauces.

5 thoughts on “Pulled Pork a la Alton”

  1. I’ve never brined a butt before, don’t usually even inject. So this made a huge difference for ya huh? Flavor too or was it more the texture? You have me curious.

  2. Huge difference in flavor and a little in texture. Not hammy, but denser. Kind of like the difference between light and dark meat.

  3. if i used a smaller pork butt- about 3-4 lbs do you think i could cook it for only 12 hours. i don’t like the idea of leaving the grill on overnite and this way i could start in the a.m. and be finished by evening. so do you think that this would be ok?

    1. Sure, I sometimes cut mine in half to reduce to cooking time. Figure a 6-8 hour cook for a couple of 3-4 pound butts. Just make sure you leave some space between them on the grate or they tend to act like one big piece of meat.

  4. I always love your posts. Nice detailed instructions. I’ve brined butts that came out on the hammy side. Will have to try molasses in the brine. Thank you!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: