Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

Here is the process I typically use to cook a "hot & fast" barbequed pork butt, which then becomes the much more familiar pulled pork. The Memphis part comes from the dry rub that I use.

Way back in the early days of this blog I shared my hot and fast beef brisket process, and this is really the same thing, but with a cut that is obviously from a whole 'nother beast.

Traditional barbecue is typically cooked "low & slow" (a long time at a low temperature), but, as the name implies, it takes a very long time. With a hot and fast method (a shorter time at a higher temperature) you take the same basic steps, but you get to eat much sooner — typically in as little as half the time. The goal is to achieve the same quality end product in a much shorter time. To help quantify things, a 7-8 pound butt can generally take 10-12 hours to cook low & slow. Here I'll show you how I get the same result in five hours.

Among BBQ purists the usual response to a hotter and faster cook is, "Yeah, but can you tell the difference?" To that I simply reply, "No!" I've cooked both styles at home and in competition and the only difference I see is in the amount of sleep I get. It really is the same product in a much shorter time. If you're a busy family guy like me (or you like to get some sleep at competitions, like me), that makes all the difference in the world.

Let's get on the bidness end of some hot & fast hog!

Ingredients
7-8 lb Pork Boston butt
3/4 cup Memphis-style dry rub (recipe follows — makes more than needed)
6 oz Ginger ale
Canola oil spray

Memphis Dry Rub
1 cup Sea salt, medium fine (no table salt, please)
1/2 cup Unrefined evaporated cane sugar (no table sugar, please)
1/2 cup Brown sugar, golden/light
2 Tbs Sweet Hungarian paprika
2 Tbs Chili powder, medium heat
2 Tbs Granulated onion (not onion "powder")
2 Tbs Dry mustard
1 Tbs Granulated garlic (not garlic "powder")
2 tsp Dry thyme
2 tsp Dry oregano
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Celery salt
2 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Ground cayenne (optional)

Method
Combine all of the rub ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a
whisk or stand mixer.

Trim the pork of any loose fat and season all sides with a fairly heavy coat of the rub (about 2/3 cup). Make sure that you season all of the exterior parts of the pork, including any portions between the muscles that you can get to.

Put the pork in a lipped pan with the fat cap down, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 12-36 hours (the longer the better).

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

About six hours before you want to serve, Fire up your grill/cooker for indirect cooking at 325º grate temperature using the smoke wood of your choice. I use Kingsford® Original (blue bag) with four small chunks of hickory and two small chunks of cherry.

Note: You'll need enough coals for a five-hour cook, or be prepared to add coals as needed. If you're using a gas grill, make a few smoker pouches.

While your coals are starting, uncover the butt and hit all sides with another light coat of rub (about two tablespoons).

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

When your coals are ready, put the butt on the cooker with the fat cap down.

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

Cover and let it cook for 3 hours at an average grate temperature of 325-350*. Here's how mine looked at two hours.

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

...and at three hours.

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

At the three hour mark (mine was 165º internal), wrap it fat-side-up in a triple layer of heavy-duty foil, adding the ginger ale. You want to wrap it as tightly as you can without the risk of piercing the foil.

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

Put it back on the cooker and cook indirect for another two hours. The finished temp should be about 203º in the thickest part of the butt. If it's below 195º, continue cooking, checking the internal temperature about every 15 minutes.

Note: Once it's wrapped you can finish the cook in a 325º oven. Yes, it's sort of like cheating, but nobody will know. If you're pressed for time, just increase the heat to 350º.

Remove the butt from the cooker, open the foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

Pull the pork with a large fork in each hand (or by hand wearing gloves), discarding any noticeable pieces of fat. I season the pulled meat with a little bit of the rub and I add some of the wrapping liquid (skimmed of fat) to keep it moist.

Hot & Fast Memphis-style Pulled Pork

Serve the pulled pork on a bun topped with BBQ sauce and some of your favorite slaw.

Enjoy, then enjoy some more!

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13 Comments:
Anonymous Rod in Florida said...
Hey, this is great. I like FASTER especially when it doesn't compromiste the outcome. Thanks.
Anonymous Kenny C said...
I know you used the ginger ale on chicken before and it turned out great when I tried it. Does the ginger ale serve as a tenderizer and to add moisture during the cook on this recipe? Oh and can I come over sometime? Your food always looks good.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Kenny - I use ginger ale simply because it's cheap, easy, wet and sweet. Lemon-lime soda (not diet), or even Dr. Pepper or cola works just as well. It might help tenderize the meat a bit, but I doubt it.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Looks excellent! Two rookie questions: why do you place the pork fat cap down? I'd have thought fat cap up, then the fat can tenderize the meat, but perhaps this meat is marbled enough that it doesn't need additional tenderizing? Also, how do you apply the Ginger ale? Do you pour it over the meat, or do you let the soda simmer and create a moisturizing steam to bathe the pork?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - I always cook with the fat down, especially when cooking hot-n-fast. First, it keeps the meat from sticking to the grate. The fat is throwaway, meat isn't. Second, it provides insulation from the heat below, which is very much needed at high temps. Third, the fat doesn't penetrate and moisten the meat. It's simply a myth. The fat just runs down over the outside and I find it makes the sugar in the rub scorch more easily, which is a bad thing.

I hope this helps.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Oh, as for the ginger ale, I just form a boat out of the foil, pour it around the outside of the butt, then seal it up well. The foil will push the liquid up around the sides of the pork.
Anonymous John Setzler said...
John, that looks delicious. I still haven't tried the hot and fast method on a butt but I intend to give it a whirl soon. Maybe that will be a good test run on a new big green egg when it gets here... Nice work as usual!
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just wanted to say thank you Patio. Used this method in my comp yesterday and took 3rd place for my pulled pork. I used my UDS as well and followed the cook method exactly but did not use the gingerale. Had no problems holding 325* and 350*. The UDS is amazing. I quad wrapped the PP in foil and it came out extremely juicy. I do not have a diffuser/water pan and it still turned out awesome. I think I may do this method from now on but maybe have it sit in the smoke for 4 hours then wrap and if I add an extra hour to my cook time then thats ok. But after 3 hours I was at 165* internal, then bumped the UDS to 350 and I hit 200* 2.5 hours later. Let it rest for about 45 mins and it was so good. I had a 2nd one I brought home and I pulled it 5 hours later and it was still hot and tasted amazing. So thanks again!!



mark
Blogger John Dawson said...
Mark - That's awesome! I'm flattered that you'd try the recipe for a competition, and I'm very happy that it was successful for you. Way to go!
Blogger JoyousMN said...
Doing this today. I decided to do pulled pork at the last minute. (I know, contradiction right?) Found your site and thought I could make it work.

Husband got me an 8lb butt and I cut it in half and rubbed it, it's been on the grill to two hours now. I'm keeping the temp on the top indicator around 375 cause down by the meat it's prolly closer to 325-350. I'm going to try to get it to 165 somewhere between 3-4 hours on the grill, then I'll wrap it. I'm thinking it's going to go in the oven so I can just forget about it for a couple hours.

Has anyone here ever tried oven bags for the wrap? I was thinking that it should work just as well as foil...but I haven't decided yet. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks! for the quick cook technique.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
with the hot and fast method what temp would you cook it to for slicing the money muscle. I would think less but pork has not been nice to me. Thanks
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - For slicing I recommend about 198*. For competition I cook the whole butt to 202*, but the money muscle is a bit loose at that temp.
Blogger John Tanner said...
Finishing in the oven is the way to go, particularly in the winter! Just did an 8 lb boneless shoulder blade roast on the PBC....3 3/4 hours, 167....it's like the higher temps powered it through the stall. Finishing in the oven, wrapped tight with apple cider, at 275....still trusting a lower oven temp to melt those collagens and elastins. But no stall? Amazing.

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