Memphis Style Pulled Pork Barbecue

March 29, 2010
1 Rating
Author Notes

This recipe was originally submitted several years ago as oven-barbecued pork and was a Community Pick. Where it really shines, though, is on a grill. The ingredients and prep are exactly the same; I've gone through and edited the headnote and directions, starting with Step 2. You need eight hours on a charcoal grill, but I promise, it's worth it. —Kayb

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe yields some of the best barbecued pork we've ever tasted. After a few low and slow hours in the oven, the roast comes out super moist, sweet-spicy, peppery and crispy. The rub is balanced and really penetrates the meat, leaving a nice, pink ring around the outside edge. The sauce has just the right amount of tomato-y tartness for balance. We found this to be an embarrassingly easy way to get barbecue flavor without having to go outside, or do much work at all. - Emily —The Editors

  • Serves 8
  • 3 tablespoons each of kosher salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, and coriander
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons each of ground ginger, dry mustard, and celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons each ground thyme and dried oregano, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 5-6 pounds Boston butt roast or half pork shoulder
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup or tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • hot sauce to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Mix the spices, herbs and sugar in a small bowl until thoroughly blended. Set aside 6 tablespoons of the mixture, and use as much as needed to heavily coat the pork roast. You may have rub left over; it keeps well in an airtight container and does wonders for any kind of pork or chicken. Wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, remove roast from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. While it's warming, build your fire: two equal piles of charcoal briquettes on either side of a grill (barrel grills or other rectangular ones work best, though you can also use a kettle style smoker). Let the coals burn until they're covered with grayish white ash. Put the butt in between the two piles, so it gets indirect heat from both sides.
  3. Meanwhile, in n a small saucepan, blend reserved 6 tbsp. dry rub mix, vinegar, water, tomato paste or ketchup, and worcestershire sauce. Add hot sauce to taste (a dash or two is good).
  4. Once pork has cooked for an hour, baste with sauce every 30 minutes for 1 1/2 hours, and then go to an hourly baste for another six to seven hours, or until the bone in the pork wiggles freely. You will probably need to add coals during this process; build a separate fire and add the after they've already burned down to ash-covered. You can probably get by with adding coals twice during the period of cooking.
  5. When bone wiggles freely and meat is pull-apart tender, remove from grill and tent with foil; allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. Serve by pulling chunks of meat from bone. Should, to be authentic, be served with vinegar cole slaw and baked beans; bread is optional, but roasted corn on the cob is nice. And gallons of iced tea and lots of cold beer.
  6. If you want a sauce to serve on the side, take remaining basting sauce (or make more), add another 4 tbsp tomato paste, and simmer until it reaches the desired thickness.

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  • Kayb
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    Pat E. in SLO
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I'm a business professional who learned to cook early on, and have expanded my tastes and my skills as I've traveled and been exposed to new cuisines and new dishes. I love fresh vegetables, any kind of protein on the grill, and breakfasts that involve fried eggs with runny yolks. My recipes tend toward the simple and the Southern, with bits of Asia or the Mediterranean or Mexico thrown in here and there. And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a float in the lake, as pictured, is a pretty fine lunch!