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Top 3 Secrets to Award-Winning Pulled Pork

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

We've teamed up with World Champion BBQer, Chris Marks, to help debunk the myths surrounding smoked pork shoulder "Pulled Pork" and extracted 3 secrets to success.

Chris Marks, is an expert at his craft of BBQ. He has travelled for over 20 years teaching BBQ around the world. He's placed in over 600 competitions and been titled grand champion of BBQ in over 20 national contests (awards).

Over the last few weeks, I've interviewed Marks and attended a presentation he did on Smoking Pork 101 at the National High School BBQ Association's conference and competition in Round Rock, TX, where we also had the opportunity to present Tappecue's story and products.

I was able to extract three secrets to success for award-winning pork. In this article, I'm going to share with you those three secrets that might help you take your BBQ game up to the next level.

1) You don't need to brine, season a day ahead of time, or inject the pork to create award-winning results

He never said you can't do any of these, but he said it's not necessary. Brining your pork and seasoning it a day ahead of time will only make an insignificant amount of difference in the taste and flavor. Injecting will help with retaining moisture, but pork is already fatty enough that it has no problem retaining moisture while you cook. This means spritzing isn't necessary either; in fact, you can do more harm than good by opening up your chamber several times over the smoke to spritz causing your cook to take longer than necessary.

Marks suggest just letting the smoker do its work and leave it alone. Which brings us to our next point.

2) Don't get wrapped up in wrapping

What does wrapping actually do? The technical term for wrapping is braising - defined as: the cooking of meat or vegetables by heating them slowly with oil and moisture in a tightly sealed vessel. Which means, you're switching cooking methods in the middle of the cook... So what will that do? It can make your meat more tender at the risk of becoming mushy, and you'll lose the crispy bark and smoke flavor that you've been working so hard to get for the last 6 hours. If smoked properly low and slow, you shouldn't lose any moisture in your cook and you'll get a crispy, outer bark with a smoky flavor.

However, if you are cooking too hot and let it rest for too long, you will risk it cooking unevenly and drying out.

3) Pull at 190-205 and let rest for ONLY 15-30 minutes

Use the Tappecue AirProbe3 to monitor your smoke. Keep the heat at 225 and just let the smoker do its work. Don't look at it, spritz it, wrap it or even breath on it. Wait until the internal temperature gets to 190 or 195 and take it off the smoker. Wait 15-30 minutes... if you let it rest any longer, you risk over-cooking it and it becoming dry. You'll want to pull it apart before the internal temp reaches 205 as the temperature could still climb while resting.

For the best flavoring and crispy bark, all you have to do when preparing your pork is use these three award-winning ingredients by Three Little Pigs BBQ Sauces and Rubs:

Start with the Mustard Style sauce because the vinegar against the meat will help break down the proteins to allow the salt, pepper and spices in the Kansas City Championship BBQ Rub to dive 1/4" or so into the meat. Then after adding the KC Championship BBQ Rub, add a light dusting of the Touch of Cherry. The sugar in the Touch of Cherry BBQ Rub is what caramelizes and makes the bark crispy towards the end of the cook. That crispy bark is what makes it true barbecue.

Marks suggest using a lighter smoke flavor such as Pecan or Applewood to bring out the brightness of the meat.

You can purchase Three Little Pigs BBQ Sauces and Rubs online or at a dealer near you.

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