How Do I Barbecue Pork Roast?

Dan Harkins

Barbecued pork is beloved by many, whether they are mere diners or the chefs who devote their lives to perfecting and sharing their opus recipes. Barbecue pork roast is the mother of many a culinary treat, from pulled pork to delicately marinaded loins roasted in the oven. Still, others take the preparations outside to finish their pork in a proper smoker. In any case, brining could help make the meat more tender and bring out more of its natural flavor.

Different cuts of pork.
Different cuts of pork.

A common method to barbecue pork roast is in a crock pot. This is a way of combining a marinading period with a slow cooking that brings out the meat's tenderness. Shoulder and butt are other cuts that are regularly used this way, with bone-in having the best reputation. Though some make their own barbecue sauce, it would not be uncommon to add the roast to the crock pot with some water and chopped onions on the bottom. Then a store-bought barbecue sauce could be poured over the top before a half-day of slow cooking on low heat.

Salty brine actually makes pork juicier via osmosis.
Salty brine actually makes pork juicier via osmosis.

When a crock pot is not used, the meat should have at least four hours — and in many cases, a full night — of marinating before going into the oven. This will help to preserve moisture during what should be a "slow and low" baking. Southern celebrity chef Paula Deen makes her own barbecue pork roast marinade with soy sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic and celery seed. She coats her pork in this sauce and lets it set for four hours in the refrigerator, and then bakes it at 325°F (about 163°C) for two or three hours.

In all cases, a barbecue pork roast should be about 165°F (74°C) inside before it is ready. If a brining has been performed or if cooking in the slow cooker though, it can go to 200° (about 93°C) for optimum tenderness without becoming overcooked. A general rule is that the lower the heat and slower the cooking time, the more a barbecue pork roast will exhibit "pulled pork" characteristics.

One way that chefs preserve a barbecue pork roast's tenderness through a long cooking is by brining it first. This is especially necessary when using a grill, smoker or stove, which will employ a slow-cooking temperature. A brining can take the place of a pre-cooking marinade; it merely goes about the process in a different way. Instead of a sauce marinade, the meat undergoes a refrigerated bath of salt-saturated water that is also infused with ingredients like brown sugar, garlic powder and onion powder.

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