Let me tell you, these are our favorite sandwiches of all time! We love to make them so often that when we smoke the pork, we do a large amount so we can freeze leftovers for future meals. The seasonings and authentic Carolina BBQ sauce make the most delicious pulled pork. Pile it high on a slider bun and top with coleslaw and you have a meal everyone will rave about!
Smoked Carolina Pork Sandwiches
Serves a crowd
5-8 lb. pork butt, bone in
8 cups apple juice (64 oz. bottle)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons dry rub (recipe below)
2 bay leaves
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Prepare the dry rub by combining all ingredients in a container with a lid. Shake to mix evenly.
Rinse off the pork and add to a large stock pot. Pour in the apple juice and just enough water to cover the pork. Add the remaining brine ingredients and stir around the pork to mix. Put on the lid and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
When ready to cook the pork, remove from the brine (keeping it) and pat dry with paper towels. Remove 2 tablespoons of the dry rub and set aside. Rub the remaining dry rub all over the pork and in any flaps and cracks. If baking, place pork in a roasting pan or 9X13" baking dish. Bake at 225°F for 12-14 hours or until a thermometer in the thickest part reads 200°F. If using a smoker, prepare smoker at a temperature around 225°F. If using a drip pan, fill with reserved brine for moist smoking. Place the pork on a rack and smoke slowly until it reaches 200°F, internal temperature. This will take somewhere between 12-14 hours. A good indicator that it's ready is that the bone can be removed easily from the meat.
Once pork is done, remove from oven or smoker and wrap in foil and let rest if desired. Using two forks, shred the meat and remove the bone and any fat and discard. Prepare the BBQ sauce by combining all ingredients and whisk well. Pour half of the sauce over the pork along with the extra 2 tablespoons dry rub. Toss with forks to coat. Drizzle remaining sauce over the pork if desired.
Serve on buns with coleslaw.
Don't be pushed away by the long list of ingredients. The first time you take a bite of this pork, you will see it's worth all the effort and time! Make sure you start this a few days before you want to eat it. Get the pork butt in a large stock pot and add all of the brine ingredients. Stir them around a little to mix, then cover the pot and refrigerate for at least 12-24 hours.
After brining, remove from the liquid (keep it if doing your pork in a smoker), pat dry with paper towels, and rub it with all of the dry rub except 2 tablespoons you need to save for later. Be sure to get it in all the cracks and folds.
Cook according to above directions. We do ours on a smoker and start it the night before we want to eat it. We put a foil pan underneath the rack and fill it with the brine, then place the seasoned pork on the rack. We have an awesome bluetooth thermometer that stays in the smoker and meat so we can track it on our phones. You want to slowly cook the pork until 200°F. Be sure to save 2 tablespoons of dry rub and mix the BBQ sauce ingredients.
The bluetooth thermometer makes fun graphs like this that my physicist husband loves!
Once the pork reaches the right temperature, remove and wrap in foil to rest if desired, or place it in a bowl to shred.
The meat will be so tender. With two forks, shred the pork, removing any bones or fat you don't want. Pour on half of the sauce and sprinkle with the extra dry rub. Stir to coat all the meat.
This pork has the BEST flavor. We usually end up using all of the BBQ sauce mixed with the pork, and it keeps it moist and flavorful.
Pile it high on slider or regular buns. We love the Canyon Bakehouse Hawaiian Rolls. Top with some coleslaw.
It doesn't get much better than this! If you have any pork leftover, it freezes really well and tastes just like the day it was smoked when reheated. One of the best sandwiches you'll ever eat!
Recipe Source: Recipe adapted from a recipe at Oh Sweet Basil