Pineapple Pulled Pork Al Pastor – Holy Smokes This Was Good

When I roast, or smoke a pork shoulder outside on the grill, I usually break a few rules, and by a few, I mean pretty much all of them. I use too high a heat; I don’t wrap my meat halfway through; or even bother mopping the meat with a marinade; and yet despite ignoring all those best practices, I’m always thrilled with how it comes out.

Maybe it’s the brine, or that I’m just easily satisfied, but it’s been my experience that if you season aggressively, and cook the meat over smoky coals to an internal temp of 195 F., you’ll be rewarded with tender, moist, and very flavorful meat. By the way, this was inspired by the famous al pastor taco’s spice blend, and pineapple element, but I wouldn’t want anyone to expect this to taste exactly like that magical meat.

Having said that, this particular flavor profile really works here, especially when the pulled pork is topped with grilled pineapple salsa. In fact, that stuff was so delicious, you should make it even if you’re not barbecuing the shoulder. It’s great on anything, including ice cream; so don’t let the last of those hot coals go to waste.

The only real challenge here is maintaining a steady temp in your grill of between 300 and 325 F. I try to keep it just above 300 F., which is accomplished by adjusting the vents under, and on top of the grill, or smoker. I also like to start with a good amount of (real) charcoal, so I don’t have to reload it halfway through, but that depends on your set-up. Thanks to the brine, and spice rub, even if you end up having to do this in the oven, I still think it comes out quite well. In any event, there’s nothing like a juicy, pulled pork sandwich, and this is one of my favorite versions, which is why I really hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 9-10 pounds)
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1 quart pineapple juice
3 quarts water
For the Rub (will make extra):
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup ancho chili powder, or any ground chili pepper
1 tablespoon ground chipotle
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin optional
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the Pineapple Salsa:
2 cups chopped grilled pineapple
1 finely diced Serrano chili pepper
2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon spice rub, or to taste
additional salt to taste

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