Perfect picnic pulled pork recipe

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This pulled pork recipe makes finger-licking, falling-off-the-bone-tender pulled pork perfect for serving either on the traditional soft buns or plain. Dish up plenty of extra vinegar sauce.


  • 6- to 7-pound picnic pork shoulder, preferably bone-in
  • The Rub:
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • The Mop Sauce:
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco(r) or similar hot red pepper sauce
  • The Accompaniment:
  • fluffy white hamburger buns


  1. The day before you want to serve this pulled pork recipe, set out a Ziploc-type plastic bag large enough to hold the pork shoulder
  2. Measure into the bag the pulled pork recipe rub ingredients: brown sugar; garlic powder; paprika; white, black, and cayenne peppers; dry mustard; sage; thyme; and allspice
  3. Close the bag and shake the contents to mix the spices well, pressing out any clumps of brown sugar between your fingers
  4. Pat the pork shoulder dry with a paper towel and place it in the bag
  5. Seal the bag, then shake and turn it until the meat is well covered with the rub
  6. Refrigerate, tightly closed, overnight.
  7. Some 8 or 9 hours before you want to eat the pulled pork, take the pork in its bag of spices from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature while you fire up the smoker
  8. Once the coals are glowing and you've added smoking wood to the fire pan and hot water to the water pan, transfer the picnic shoulder to the grill.
  9. Smoke, covered, at 200 to 220 degrees F. for 3 to 4 hours, replenishing the cooker's wood and water supplies as needed
  10. Then prepare to start mopping. Pour the vinegar, corn oil, and Tabasco or other hot red pepper sauce into a medium-size stainless steel or flameproof ceramic saucepan and whisk until well mixed
  11. Baste the shoulder with the mop, using a long-handled barbecue brush or a mop
  12. If you're cooking a bone-in shoulder, be sure to work the mop in around the bone where the meat has begun to separate from it
  13. Continue to smoke the picnic for another 4 to 5 hours, mopping the crusty black surface every 30 minutes or so. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the shoulder will have long since registered the 160 to 170 degrees F recommended for pork, and by now, you'll find, the meat can be pulled apart into luscious, incredibly tender strands all peppery around the edges.
  14. Just before taking the shoulder from the grill, bring the liquid remaining from the mop to a boil in its pan, simmer briefly, and pour into a pitcher to pass around the table. Some folks like their pulled pork really vinegary.
  15. Have soft buns handy for purists.