Barbecue University™

Pulled Pork in a Hurry: Introducing 3-2-1 Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork in a Hurry: Introducing 3-2-1 Pulled Pork

If you have six hours of daylight, you can barbecue a pork shoulder and sit down to an incredible meal before the sun slips below the horizon. Tough, now that we’ve gone off Daylight Savings Time. But doable.

This was all Steven’s idea. Buoyed by the success of 3-2-1 ribs, one of our most popular blogs, Steven wondered what would happen if we treated a pork butt (aka, shoulder) to 3 hours of smoke, 2 hours wrapped in butcher paper, foil, or parchment paper, and 1 hour unwrapped.

If you have any experience with it, you know pork butt is one of the most forgiving meats there is, absolving you of most sins you could ever commit against it. It’s the poster child for “low and slow,” often taking 8 to 10 hours to reach 195 degrees—the threshold temperature for pulling. Anything less, and you’ll have to resort to chopping it or slicing it.

But let’s say you don’t want to chop or slice it. You want textbook, Instagram-ready, Pinterest-worthy pulled pork. And you want it fast.

Enter 3-2-1 pulled pork. Yes, we’ve found a way to speed it up by manipulating the time and the temperature. Here’s how it goes.

At 10 a.m. I generously seasoned a 4-pound pork butt on all sides with Steven’s Project Smoke Carolina Pit Powder. A great alternative is his All-Purpose Rub (find the recipe here). If you want, slather the pork with mustard (cheap yellow mustard or Dijon) before seasoning.

I intended to use my trusty Weber Performer, but the relentless rain disabused me of that idea. My back-up plan was my Traeger, which lives on a big screened-in porch. As a bonus, I can set the exact temperature and use the pellets of my choice—hickory, in this case. I set the smoker to 275 degrees—on the outer edge of smoking temperatures. I then set my seasoned pork butt on the grill grate.

At 1 p.m., I wrapped the pork—now bronzed with smoke—in butcher paper and reset my iPhone alarm for 2 hours. The meat was looking beautiful when those hours were up. But 1 more hour (unwrapped) was needed to firm up the bark. By 4 p.m., the pork was ready to pull. I always let it rest for 20 minutes, then don rubber insulated food gloves to pull the meat into large chunks and remove the bone. While you can use table forks, meat claws make quick work of pulling the chunks into meaty shreds.

I was a little skeptical when Steven suggested this unorthodox method. But now I’m sold. The key is to barbecue the pork at a slightly higher temperature (275 degrees), and then wrap it in butcher paper, parchment, or foil. And the pork butt I used was relatively small—4 pounds. If you need to feed a crowd, barbecue multiple pork butts. Your grill or smoker can likely accommodate several. I can’t guarantee this method would work on an 8 pound pork shoulder because I haven’t tried it yet. The pork butt I barbecued (bone-in, by the way) was about 3 inches thick.

For more information on barbecuing perfect pulled pork, click here.