Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recipe - Pulled Pork Leg (Fresh Ham)

Loblaw and Real Canadian Superstore had whole pork legs on sale last week for $0.89 per LB . . . that's pretty cheap! I went there and bought a 22 LB leg; not exactly sure what to do, I thought I would smoke it and pull it - I'm glad I did!

Typically pulled pork is made from the shoulder (Front Leg) from one of two cuts - either the Picnic Roast or the Boston Butt. Since I had neither, I used the back leg.

Ready? Here we go.

  • 2 Cans Apple Juice
  • Chili Powder
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Powder
  • Fresh Ground Peper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Dry Mustard
  • Oregeno
  • Ground Coriander Seed
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • BBQ Sauce (your choice)
  • Pig Leg

Here is shot of what the Pig Leg (Sometimes referred to as "Fresh Ham" looks like:
STEP 1: Trim off the skin and excess fat from the leg, but leave a good 1/4" of the fat on top. It should look something like this:
The bottom of the leg should look something like this:
Step 2: Prepare a Dry Rub - check out my dry rub recipe in my other blog post titled "Rub your Pork"
STEP 3: Rub your pork
Step 4: Inject a mixture of Apple Juice, Apple Cider Vingar and Kosher Salt into the Pork. Here was my formula:
  • 1 Cup Apple Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
Dissolve the salt into the liquid then use a meat syringe to inject the juice into the meat - DO THIS OVER A BAKING SHEET - IT WIL LEAK!
STEP 5: Cover in plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight
STEP 6: If applicable, shovel the snow around your Smoker . . . (I did this in January)
STEP 7: Prepare your smoker as the instructions say (get it warm and smoking) and place the roast, fat-side up, on the rack. I used a digital thermometer to keep track of the temperature of the smoker. Since I did this in January, it took a couple of hours to reach 225f. After that, the temp seems to hover between 250f and 270f - as soon as I opened the door it instantly dropped to 120f. The pro's say the ideal temp is 225f, however since I had so much heat loss every time I opened the door, I was comfortable with the higher temps.
Here is a pic of the smoker doing it's job - I used Hickory Wood and wound up going through an entire 5LB back of wood chips for this roast.
At 4 hours into the cooking, here is how the leg looked:
After 8.5 hours, the leg has reached an internal temp of 190f. This is how it looked:

STEP 8: Let it rest under some foil for 30-45 mins and then tear apart with 2 forks. Discard as much fat as you can, but try to save as much of the "bark" (the rub that has crusted around the outside).

STEP 9: Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and as much BBQ sauce as you wish - be careful, don't let the BBQ sauce over-power the hours you spent adding flavour the hard way!

After about 30 minutes of pulling, I wound up with 10 lbs of pulled pork:

I made up a simple coleslaw of cabbage, mayo, sugar, white vinegar and toasted cumin seeds and put everything together on some hamburger buns.

THOUGHTS: At first, I was a little unsure that this would actually taste good. I was pleasantly surprised! This is easily as good as a picnic roast or a Boston butt - probably because the leg has a few different cross-sections of meat.

If I were to do this again, I may inject the meat with the Apple Juice the morning of the cook, as opposed to the night before as I lost a lot of juice while the meat sat overnight in the fridge. Apart from that, I wouldn't change a thing.


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