Friday, June 7, 2019

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


Unknown said...

Thanks for the recipe Chef John! Any tips on making this in a slow cooker?

Lupe said...

> When I roast, or smoke a pork shoulder outside on the grill, I usually break a few rules, ... and yet despite ignoring all those best practices, I’m always thrilled with how it comes out.

The German Barbeque Sports Club (Grillsportverein) has a large forum, possibly the largest grill-related forum in the world. That forum has a thread that has been running since 2013 <a href=">Mythos Pulled Pork</a>. And there, in the first post, is a long list of things you can do or not. Most of the time it's "piepegal" (roughly "not worth a damn").

Sorry, it's too much to translate, but have a look. Just the size of the list is impressive.

Unknown said...

OMG....Chef...I live in an it possible to make this without a grill? Please, tell me if its works in a oven. I make almost every dish you put a video out for and THIS..... I for dang sure want to make.

Betsy said...

gosh this looks so good. Pineapple always makes meat tender and tasty. I am trying this one.

Jeff said...

Completely off-topic, but I'm not sure how to contact you about a "food wish". It may be too exotic, but many years ago I was in Hong Kong and had this amazing noodle dish I love -- tantanmen (dan dan noodles... many ways to spell). As off-topic as it is, you don't have to approve this post for the site, but I hope you will read it. The dish contains some exotic ingredients, but I think you are talented enough to create a dish that comes very close to the flavor. You've done "cheater" Asian recipes before that were brilliant.

Jeff said...

follow up -- It's the spicy version (with chili oil) - Sichuan, Schezuan

Mozella said...

For any low and slow charcoal cooking I always use my automatic temperature controller. It's a simple PID thermostat connected to a small computer cooling fan. A temperature probe goes inside the grill near the meat and the fan cycles on and off to control the air coming into the air inlet of the grill in response to the temperature probe. Mine will hold a steady temperature within one or two degrees for more than 12 hours on my Green Egg style cooker completely unattended, but they work as well on a Weber type grill too.

I made mine for 50 bucks and you can too if you are able to solder and read a data sheet. But you can buy them in the $150 range by searching for BBQ Temperature Controller. Mine can be powered from a household extension cord or from a small $30 battery pack. Anyone cooking pork shoulders or beef briskets will quickly fall in love with their temperature controller, especially if they're trying to maintain temperatures as low as 220F for many hours.

Mike said...

Hi Chef John. How do I make a donation to My son is a big fan and I want to make the donation for his birthday.

BTW if I try to go directly to without the blogspot, my virus detector tells me not to go there. Mike

Chris said...

How would I be able to do this in an oven?

El Habitante said...

Soooo....what about that those "vent adjusting" guidelines you promised?
Saludos Chef John!

Howard said...

I made this over the weekend. It was amazing! That pineapple brine really is wonderful.

Steph (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ said...

What kind of dish did you use? Just a glass pyrex lined with tinfoil? Would one of those disposable aluminum pans work instead?

Steph (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ said...

What kind of dish did you use? Just a glass pyrex dish lined with tin toil? DO you think one of those disposable aluminum pans would work instead?

OCKI said...


I have one question. The pineapple juice for the brine, is that canned juice?

Thanks in advance

Mozella said...

My wife and I rarely cook a shoulder just for the two of us; however, we frequently cook a rack of ribs. We enjoy the ribs on the bone the first night, but we always pull and/or chop the remaining ribs to make sandwiches topped with slaw the next day or two. Depending on the size and meatiness of the ribs, we get between two and 6 sandwiches.

Sanfordja said...

Will the cooking time vary if our pork shoulder is half your suggested size? Thanks.

Sanfordja said...

Will our cooking time differ if our pork shoulder is 4.5 lbs?

Unknown said...

If I was to do this in a insta-pot, would cooking the pork in the brine work? Or a water/pineapple juice mixture be better?

Joey Threesticks said...

Thanks John, this was fantastic!

I only wish I could have found a pork shoulder as big as the one you had in the video, because man oh man did this go quick!

charles said...

I made this in a dutch oven indoors otherwise following the recipe exactly. It was really fantastic. Thanks for everything you do.

George P said...

Amazing. Going to have to throw a party. Give me a reason to make it. Thanks Chef !

SouthernVet said...

Canned juice is fine as long as it's real juice.

Geoff said...

Holy smokes was this good. Best pulled pork I've had. I smoked with cherry wood and it turned out heavenly.