Barbecue-Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders
Recipe courtesy Lee Ann Whippen, chef-partner, Chicago q
Helmed by Chef-Partner Lee Ann Whippen of TLC’s hit grilling show, BBQ Pitmasters, this urban ’cue joint in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood draws crowds for its lip-smacking barbecue, house-made rubs and award-winning sauces—all in a modern, upscale setting. Whippen brings 14 years of barbecue competition experience to the table, and is a Certified BBQ Judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society (she also defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a pulled pork-themed Throwdown, a Food Network cook-off show). This summer-ready recipe is perfect for a backyard barbecue.
1 pork butt (or “Boston Butt”), approximately 6–8 pounds
1 cup Chicago q’s BBQ Championship BBQ Rub (see recipe below)
¾ cup apple juice
1½ cups barbecue sauce
12 (4-inch) pretzel rolls
Smoker or charcoal grill/gas grill with
room for indirect heat
Hickory- or apple-wood chips (soaked in
water for 1 hour prior to use) or hickory- or apple-wood chunks (approximately 4” x 2”)
The night prior to cooking, trim the fat off the pork butt to ¼-inch thick and coat heavily with dry rub. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap, or place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
Remove pork from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to cooking. Heat the smoker to 225–250˚F and place seasoned pork butt in smoker, fat side up.
Add 3 large handfuls of wood chips or 3 wood chunks on top of the coals or in smoke box. After 3 hours, add 3 more large handfuls of wood chips or 3 wood chunks and spray with the apple juice. Continue to spray the pork with apple juice every hour, for 12 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190–195˚F when inserted into the meat. If the exterior of the pork becomes too dark during the smoking process, wrap it with heavy-duty aluminum foil with ½-cup apple juice in bottom of foil.
When the pork has finished cooking, use a fork to shred the meat into the desired consistency and top with barbecue sauce. Serve on toasted pretzel rolls. Serves 10–12.
Championship Pig Powder Dry Rub
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup chili powder
1½ tablespoons Spanish paprika
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup granulated sugar
Combine the salt and brown sugar in a food processor or blender and process until well blended. Add the chili powder, Spanish paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, taco seasoning, onion powder, dry mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry powder, coriander and cumin and blend well. Next, add the granulated sugar and process again until all the ingredients are well mixed.
Wine Recommendation: Beverage Director Claudio Aceves recommends a Pinot Noir from Flowers Winery on the Sonoma Coast to pair with the pulled pork. “It has crisp acidity and medium tannin levels that balance nicely with the savory flavor of the pork,” she says. For another great pairing, try this barbecue dish with a full-bodied Tempranillo.