Virginia Willis Pulled Pork

Virginia Willis Pulled Pork

“I grew up eating home-cooked pork barbecue…there is simply nothing in this world that tastes like pork kissed by fire and bathed in smoke.” -Virginia Willis


4 lbs (1.8 kg) pork butt, on the bone
2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil
1⁄4 cup (55 g) brown sugar
1⁄4 cup (28 g) paprika
1 tbsp (18 g) garlic salt
2 tbsp (30 g) coarse kosher salt
1 tbsp (6 g) Piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper
1 tbsp (6 g) black pepper
4 cups (.9 L) wood chips, for smoking, soaked in water

Mama’s BBQ Sauce Instructions, for serving (see below for recipe)

Remove the meat from the refrigerator. Combine the sugar, paprika, salt, garlic salt, black pepper and Piment d’Espelette. Rub the meat with oil and rub liberally with the spice blend. Leave at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Set the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking at 275°F/135°C using wood chips for flavor (I use bourbon barrel chips; cherry and hickory would be good, but stay away from mesquite.) Soak the chips in water for at least an hour, then wrap them in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil- wrapped chips on the coals. (Soaked chunks are better for the long cooking time needed for full butts; soaked chips worked fine for the half butt.)

Place the butt in the EGG and cook until the internal temperature is 165°F/74°C; this should take about 5 hours. You want to keep the EGG temperature around 250°F/121°C; the goal is low and slow. Then, remove the hunk of meat and wrap it in a double layer of foil. Return it to the EGG and cook until desired doneness (for sliced pork, cook until the internal temperature reaches 180°F/82°C and for pulled pork, 190°F/88°C.) This will take another 2 to 3 hours.

Remove the meat to a cutting board with a moat (drip groove). Cover it with foil and let it rest for about 20 to 30 minute; the temperature will continue to rise.

Chop the meat with a chef’s knife, or shred using a pair of Big Green Egg Meat Claws, discarding the fat and bones. The meat should fall apart and have a pink, smoky ring.

Place the meat in a bowl and add sauce to taste. Mix well and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy, slowly!

Serves 6.

Mama’s Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, very finely chopped
2 1⁄2 cups (590 ml) ketchup
2 cups (475 ml) apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp (24 g) firmly packed brown sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp (12 g) freshly ground black pepper

Mama’s Barbecue Sauce Instructions

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and simmer until soft and melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until flavors have smoothed and mellowed, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe and photo from Big Green Egg and courtesy of Virginia Willis. For more on Virginia, check out her chef page. You can also find her spotlighted in Lifestyle Magazine.