pulled pork for 80

George got married yesterday–hooray! My contribution to the wedding was bringing pulled pork for the dinner. I’ve made pulled pork about half a dozen times now, but this was only the second time I was using my sweet new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (aka “Weber Bullet“). As you’ll see, though, I couldn’t fit all the pork (about 75 pounds all told) into it, and there’s no way in hell I was going to do two batches, so Nelson (my pork shoulder mentor/idol) lent me his bullet as well for dual smoking action!

I started with 3 pounds of molasses and 4.5 pounds of salt mixed with three gallons of water for the brine.

Our biggest cooler was just capacious enough to contain the 9 boneless pork shoulders as they brined overnight:

On Friday evening after work, I pulled them out of the brine. They were visibly plumped and brown from the molasses. Then I started in on making my secret rub, which is not actually a secret. In fact, here’s a picture with all the ingredients. OK, I’ll just admit that this is the Cook’s Illustrated basic barbecue rub. Are you happy? Didn’t you find it more intriguing when it was a secret?

I rubbed the shoulders and tied them to get them ready for the grill. Check out the awesome leather apron that Leslie got me for the occasion!

Next, I prepped the two smokers, filling the water pans and adding cold charcoal to the fire rings. I started a chimney worth of coals and added just about 10 hot coals to each ring. These 10 would light the others and slowly spread the fire over the next 8-10 hours before the first time I had to add fuel–this amazing technique for no-maintenance fires is called the “Minion Method,” and I can’t say enough good things about it. It almost sort of lets you sleep through the night.

With the fires lit, I stacked the pork two stories high in both smokers, and we were off.

(Not pictured: the next 15 hours of maintaining the smokers’ temperatures within 10 degrees of 225 with the help of just one remote thermometer, a headlamp, and a light touch on the air vents surrounding the fire rings. Let’s just say I was pretty tired by the time we got to the wedding.)

And just like that, we’ve got barbecue!

Leslie and I were forced to do a quick taste test before serving it the the wedding guests–just looking out for their well being!

2 thoughts on “pulled pork for 80”

  1. I would like to know the cost of the ingredients stacked on the counter. It is a reminder that good flavor has its price. Rubs and marinades are especially costly. What a wonderful gift!

    1. Excellent point! The spices there cost me about $150–a bit more than the pork itself. But I grossly overestimated what I’d need and probably could do this three more times with the leftovers. In fact, I used the wedding leftovers to rub all our 4th of July ribs and chicken…

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