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Smoked pulled pork has a deliciously smoky and savory flavor, with a tender and juicy texture. The long, slow cooking process of smoking breaks down the tough connective tissues in the pork, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s easy to pull apart with a fork. Smoked pulled pork is made using pork shoulder. The smoke from the wood imparts a distinct flavor that enhances the natural richness of the pork, making it a favorite among barbecue lovers.

How to Choose Fresh Pork Shoulder

When selecting a pork shoulder for smoking or roasting, look for one with good marbling, which means it has a good amount of intramuscular fat throughout the meat. This fat will keep the pork shoulder moist and tender during the cooking process.

Choose a pork shoulder that is fresh, with no discoloration or off odors. The meat should be firm to the touch, and the bone should be intact. Opt for a pork shoulder that is evenly sized and shaped, with a good balance of lean meat and fat.

How to Store Fresh Pork Shoulder

To store fresh pork shoulder for cooking, you should refrigerate promptly, ideally within two hours of purchasing. If you will not be cooking within four days, you should wrap the pork shoulder tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer for longer term storage.

If storing in the refrigerator, place the pork shoulder on the bottom shelf to prevent any potential cross-contamination with other foods.

Wood Pairing for Smoked Pulled Pork

The best wood to use for smoking pulled pork is a hardwood that imparts a mild to medium smoky flavor, such as hickory, oak, apple, or cherry wood. These woods complement the natural sweetness and tenderness of pork without overpowering it.

Hickory is a popular choice for pulled pork, as it provides a strong and savory flavor that can enhance the pork’s natural taste. Oak is another good option, as it imparts a milder smoky flavor that won’t overwhelm the pork’s delicate flavor. Apple and cherry wood are also excellent choices, as they can add a slightly sweet and fruity flavor to the pork.

Using a mild to medium hardwood is generally the safest and most flavorful option for smoking pulled pork.

Side Dishes for Smoked Pulled Pork

If you’ve already got the smoker fired up, why not make some sides to go with those smoked pulled pork? We’ve got some recommendations for easy, delicious sides you can cook right alongside your main course. Recommendations below are grouped by wood type. Try to choose sides that pair just as well with your wood choice as your pulled pork does.

Select the wood type for your Smoked Pulled Pork:

How to Store Pulled Pork

To store cooked pulled pork, you should refrigerate it within two hours of cooking. You can store it in an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Cooked pulled pork can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.

It is best to divide the pulled pork into smaller portions before storing to make reheating easier.

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

To reheat cooked pulled pork, it is best to let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before reheating. The easiest and most effective method is to reheat it in a covered dish in the oven at 250°F (120°C) for 30-45 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Another option is to reheat it in a covered pan on the stove over low heat. Be sure to add a little bit of liquid like broth or water to keep it moist. It is important to stir occasionally and check the internal temperature to ensure it reaches the safe temperature for consumption.

Avoid using the microwave as it can dry out the pork and affect its texture.

What is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, is a cut of meat that comes from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder. Pork shoulder is known for its rich, juicy flavor and tender texture when cooked slowly over low heat. It contains a significant amount of fat, which adds to its flavor and helps keep it moist during cooking.

Pork shoulder is typically prepared by roasting, slow-cooking, or smoking. It can be seasoned with a variety of spices and marinades to enhance its taste. It is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat that is commonly used in stews, soups, and casseroles. Pork shoulder is also a good source of protein and essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, zinc, and iron.

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