Pulled Pork - 2 Ways

Carnivore Combat (episode 1): Pulled Pork Two Ways

We buy a lot from Costco – which seems silly since it’s just the two of us, but thanks to our FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System we buy in bulk and immediately toss into the freezer so we have various proteins at our disposal without having to go hunt and gather all the time. You have probably already read my glowing reviews on the wonders of keeping peeled, raw, frozen shrimp on hand in my Shrimp Fried Rice recipe, but pork is the other white meat (sorry couldn’t resist) we keep in stock. 

We used to buy the massive pork loin at Costco (not to be confused with pork tenderloin which is just a small part of it). This recent trip we got a pack of 4 pork sirloin tip roast which were individually packaged and it seemed about the same price – what’s the harm?! Well, one big issue is I have seen VERY little on the Internet about how to cook this particular cut of meat.

We had a big party coming up, Mr T and I were in debate about the best way to cook it. We knew we wanted pulled pork for the party – he wanted to smoke it, I thought it would be best in my Instant Pot so we decided to go up against each other in a battle of the brains…a delectable duel…a…CARNIVORE COMBAT!!!! Skwaaaa!

We decided the best way to do this was to marinate them both the same – we did a wet rub with some dried and re-hydrated chilies, mustard, spices and olive oil and let sit in the fridge for an hour then room temp for an hour. Then we got to cooking!

Pulled Pork Marinade
Meat in the raw!! 

In the smokers corner – T.Rex’s technique

Thankfully I got the easier job.  After the marinade in the fridge I took the pork out and let it get to room temperature for about an hour. After pre-heating the grill to 225 degrees I filled the drip pan with water, put the pork on the top rack and inserted the wood chips. It is best to soak the wood chips for an hour or longer, but I also find I can in a pinch put in a few that are dry. My Masterbuilt Electric Smoker does not flair up and catch the wood on fire like some other smokers.  I also inserted the thermometer into the pork until the end of the thermometer meets the center of the pork. Watch the smoke coming out of the vent. You may need to open or close the vent to keep the heat consistent without letting too much smoke out. About every 30-45 minutes I add more chips to keep the smoke rolling. The cool  accessory to my smoker is it has a wireless remote. I don’t have to run outside and get all smokey to check the temperature of the smoker, the time left or the thermometer. You can bet on just about an hour per pound of pork. Once the meat hit 150 degrees I removed the pork, set it on our counter and put an aluminum tent over it for 20 minutes minimum. It will continue to raise the internal temperature. 

Under Pressure – D. Rex’s technique

Using my Instant Pot Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, I set it to the Saute function and browned the pork on all sides. Once the pork was browned I added in my secret liquids and set it to pressure cook for 60 minutes. Honestly I was so worried this would overcook it – but I wanted something super tender and fall apart when you stuck a fork in it. I was reading on various threads that the best way to get that tender, fall-apart meat was to let it come to natural release (Mr. T will tell you, this is more patience than I usually have – it took everything not to just toggle that switch). About 10-12 minutes later it was cooled enough to open the lid. Success! The meat was super tender and flavorful. Mr. T was able to get it to easily shred with a fork.

Pulled Pork - 2 Ways

The one you see on the left is the smoked (half pulled, half still intact) then the one on the right is the Instant Pot version.

The Verdict:

I know you are asking for an annihilation of one over the other, but honestly both methods proved worthy. While the instant Pot version rendered an easier shred and more tender, the smoked pork happened to be overall more moist, although much harder to shred. The smoked version also had some areas that were just impossible to shred, but they made ‘steaks’ that Mr. T was able  to add to his lunch the next day.  Since we were using these for a party (pulled pork sliders with homemade slaw) we went ahead and combined them for shredded pork that was both moist and tender, with that hint of smoke, but not overwhelming! We added in more BBQ sauce, set it in the slow cooker so it would stay warm for guests.  It was a big hit at the party and now extinct in our kitchen.

I will say the smoked pork has a better smokey flavor. It did not
pull very well but would be better served as a pork steak or smaller cuts of meat. The pork was beyond more juicy and succulent than the Instant Pot pork. It had a well developed flavor. If you like a more meaty texture and not just fall off the bone buttery consistency the smoked pork is a great alternative. If you are looking for a pulled pork with BBQ sauce added on a slider, the Instant Pot totally wins.

Pulled Pork Slider on low carb bun and homemade coleslaw

Pulled Pork – two ways (choose your favorite!)

1 1.5 lb Pork sirloin tip roast – or 2 if you want to brave both options!

Marinade:
2 whole, dried guajillo chilies
1 whole, dried chipotle chili
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cumin
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Truvia
Salt & pepper

Option 1 Smoking Ingredients:
Apple Chips, soaked
Water

Option 2 Instant Pot Ingredients:
1 cup diet coke or sugar-free soda
½ cup reserved chili liquid
2 Tbsp chipotle in adobo (leave this out or cut in half if you don’t like spicy)
1 tsp Truvia
2 Tbsp low sugar ketchup
1 cup low sugar BBQ sauce
1 tsp worchester sauce.

For the marinade: take of the stem and remove seeds from dried chilies. Bring a cup or 2 of water to boil and add in chilies for 5-10 minutes to re-hydrate. Once soft remove chilies (save the liquid!), add to a blender (I like my magic bullet) with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Blend until a thick paste. Add to pork and marinate for at least an hour. We did 1 hour in the fridge and 1 hour on the counter to get the meat to room temp.

Option 1 – smoking the meat: After the marinade in the fridge, take the pork out and let it get to room temperature for about an hour. At this time, soak the wood chips in water. Pre-heating the smoker to 225 degrees and fill the drip pan with water. Put the pork on the top rack and inserted the wood chips. Insert the thermometer into the pork until the end of the thermometer meets the center of the pork. Open or close the vent to keep the heat consistent without letting too much smoke out.  About every 30-45 minutes I add more chips to keep the smoke rolling. Plan for about an hour per pound of pork. Once the meat hits 150 degrees, remove the pork from the smoker, and let it rest on a counter, with an aluminum tent over for 20 minutes minimum. It will continue to raise the internal temperature. Once it’s done resting, take two forks and shred the meat.

Option 2 – pressure cooking the meat: Set the functions to the Saute, add 1 Tbsp of ghee to the bottom of the Instant Pot and let melt. Add in the pork roast and let it brown on all sides. Once lightly browned, add in the 1 cup of diet coke and about ½ a cup of the reserved liquid from when rehydrating chilies (if you don’t have this chicken broth or even water will do). Set your Meat/Stew function and increase the time to 60 minutes. When the 60 minutes is up, let the IP release naturally – usually takes around 10-15 minutes. Remove and shred pork with two forks.

With the leftover liquid from the Instant Pot, set the functions back on Saute. Add in the rest of the Instant Pot ingredients and let it thicken. Toss with the Instant Pot pulled pork to warm back up. Enjoy!

Ideas for the pork: pulled pork sliders (we used this Soul Bread Sesame Rolls recipe to keep the carbs down) and my own homemade slaw, Pork tacos or lettuce cups, pork breakfast hash with poached eggs and pickled red onions.

To freeze: This makes a lot (especially if you did the 2 like we did). The pork freezes very nicely. I like to put it in individual pint freezer bags so it thaws fast and can easily feed the 2 of us for a meal.

Serves: 6

Estimated Nutrition Stats: Just pork with marinade (no sauce) 6 servings: Calories – 135 | Carbs 3g | Net carbs – 3g | Fat 4g | Protein 22g | Fiber 0g. With Instant Pot sauce: Calories – 161 | Carbs 8g | Net carbs – 3g | Fat 4g | Protein 22g | Fiber 0g.