I first discovered how good pulled pork can be on a trip to the Carolinas, in America. That first bite of pulled whole hog was like a piggy symphony with all of the different cuts being mixed together. The highlight was the crackling, chopped through, playing hide-and-seek in the meaty pork. This is my version using pork scotch fillet, a nicely forgiving cut.
- 1 pork scotch fillet, around 4 kg (see Note)
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 batch red dip, split in half (recipe )
Pulled pork rub
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp dry mustard powder
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
If you don't have a smoker, here are some suggestions for alternatives.
Mix your rub ingredients together and liberally season your pork with it.
Mix the cup of apple juice with half the recipe of the red dip.
Place your pork on your smoker (see Note) at 125°C for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, do the scratch test to see if your bark has set. Once your bark is set, baste with the red dip and apple juice mixture every 30 minutes for another 3 hours.
At this stage, your bark should be nicely set and caramelised from the extra basting.
Wrap the pork in silver foil, seam side up with any remaining baste, around 3 tablespoons. If you are out of baste, use apple juice (3 tablespoons) and return to the smoker for 2 more hours.
Remove the pork to test for doneness. If your pork is tender, remove it and allow it to rest covered, until the internal temperature drops to 65°C. Before starting to pull the meat, reserve any juices.
When pulling the meat, remove any fat and try to leave the pieces as large as possible to avoid them from drying out. Once all the meat is pulled, add the remaining red dip and massage it into the meat. The texture should change and become more combined. The large chunks of meat are now broken down as they absorb any sauce. Add the reserved juices at this stage.
Serve with some BBQ sauce of your choice on the side.
• In Australia, butchers are being trained in how to cut meat American-style. Over there you can order picnics or Boston butts. The picnic is the shoulder above the hock, or leg. The Boston butt is from higher up on the pig. It’s what we in Australia refer to as scotch fillet. It is sometimes hard to find the cut with the bone-in, which is my preference, however don’t let that stop you making a wonderful pulled pork. The scotch fillet is wonderfully forgiving as it has a high percentage of fat, so it is easier to keep unctuous than brisket.
• I prefer to use apple wood and cherry wood to smoke my pork.
Photography by Mark Roper. Styling by Vicki Valsamis. Food preparation by Lance Rosen.