Everybody loves your pulled pork. The question is how can you make it without missing any of the party or game?
You know the scenario: The game starts at noon, which means the tailgate party starts somewhere between dawn and breakfast. It takes at least 12 hours to smoke a pork shoulder, but sometimes it stalls out and takes 14. If you start it at 10 p.m. the night before, you’ll make the party or the game, but you might also sleep through it all.
Here are two different methods to make sure you get to have fun, too.
#1: The Warm Cooler Method: You really can sleep while smoking a perfect pork butt. Follow my pulled pork recipe on The Big Easy™ and dream of your team winning while The Big Easy™ does all the work. Wake up and smell the perfect pork butt.
Now transporting that smoked pork to the tailgate takes a little finesse. You want to keep it warm for a number of hours while it’s Bloody Mary time, and pull the pork to oohs and ahhs at the tailgate. You also want to be sure the pork doesn’t fall below 140°F for more than four hours for food safety.
Here’s a time tested method of keeping your pork warm that actually improves it. When your shoulder reaches the desired temperature on the Big Easy™ (about 185-190°F), heat a small cooler by pouring hot water in it. Wrap your hot pork butt in multiple layers of plastic wrap so it is sealed. Pour out the hot water and place the pork in the toasty cooler-turned-insulated warmer. Take it to the tailgate and enjoy. Don’t forget to bring a pan, sauce, buns and utensils for pulling the pork.
#2 The Planning-Makes-Perfect Method: This is the obvious one. Make it a day ahead! Smoked pork shoulder, whether it’s the full bone-in “picnic” or boneless “Boston butt” cut, is one of the most forgiving cuts of meat and it just gets better with time. Smoke your pork a day ahead and let it rest for 30-40 minutes. Pull it and chill, covered, in the refrigerator.
One hour before the pre-game party, add some of your favorite barbecue sauce – just a little to moisten the meat. You don’t need to drown that beautiful smoked pork. Then reheat it in a casserole pan, covered with foil, at 250°F in the oven. Stir it a few times. Carry it to the game in an insulated casserole carrier if you have it, preferably with your team’s colors.
As you can see by the not-so-subtle photographs, my team is the Huskies. I’m strictly a college ball gal. Go Dawgs!