BBQ PULLED PORK NACHOS

BBQ Pulled pork nachos are a big hit for families and parties!
BBQ pulled pork nachos are a big hit as either an appetizer or a main dish!

Whenever I smoke a pork shoulder (aka- pork butt) for my family, I end up with a lot leftover. Since there are five of us in my family and seven pounds of pork, we usually have some left. Good thing with pulled pork is that it reheats very well. Probably the best out of all of the BBQ meats. One of my favorite things to do with leftover pulled pork is making BBQ pulled pork nachos! Easy to make and can be served up as either an appetizer or a main dish.

Nacho Necessities

When I make BBQ pulled pork nachos, I prefer to do them in a large cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a good-sized cast iron, then feel free to use something else that you feel comfortable cooking with on the grill. With that said, grab a bag of your favorite tortilla chips and put down a single layer, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Layers of nachos put together and ready to hit the grill.
Layers of nachos put together and ready to hit the grill.

Next, add the pulled pork. I recommend grabbing a handful and dispersing evenly across the chips. Then I grab a can of black beans, drain the juice out of the can, then grab a handful and spread around in the skillet. Then I grab a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and spread around. Finally for this layer, I drizzle BBQ sauce on top. Add another layer of tortilla chips and simply repeat the layering of the same ingredients. Put on the preheated grill at 350 degrees over indirect heat using hickory wood. Cook for 10-15 minutes then remove for the final steps.

Can I cook this in the oven?

Absolutely! If you don’t feel like going outside and getting your grill going, you can totally cook up these BBQ pulled pork nachos inside in your oven. You won’t get that hint of hickory smoke flavor in the whole dish, but it’ll still taste pretty dang good.

The finishing touches

Dice up some avocado and cilantro for finishing touches. Jalapenos optional, but encouraged.
Dice up some avocado and cilantro for finishing touches to your BBQ pulled pork nachos. Jalapeños optional, but encouraged.

Once you’ve pulled the skillet of BBQ pulled pork nachos off the grill (or out of the oven), dice up some cilantro and avocado to sprinkle on the top. We do this after it cooks so these ingredients don’t get browned and wilted. If you want to spice them up a little, put some pickled jalapenos on top as well. I love keeping the nachos as they are in the skillet because it maintains that authentic, visual effect. I do recommend you grab a handful before serving to your family and/or guests because they will vanish fast!

The video!

Coming soon!

The recipe!

Yield: 8-10 servings

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

BBQ pulled pork nachos are an excellent use of leftover pulled pork. They can be served up as either an appetizer for a small crowd or a main dish for a small gathering.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • 2 Cups pulled pork
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Cup black beans
  • 1/2 Cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tsp cilantro, diced
  • 1/4 Cup jalapeños, pickled

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 350 degrees over indirect heat using hickory wood. Place layer of tortilla chips in large cast iron skillet, covering the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle on a cup of pulled pork, cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of black beans, and drizzle 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Add another layer of tortilla chips and add rest of pulled pork, shredded cheese, black beans, and BBQ sauce.
  2. Place skillet on grill and cook for 10-15 minutes. Dice up cilantro and avocado and put on top of nachos. Add jalapeño to spice it up.

Notes

1. This can be cooked in the oven. It won't have that hint of hickory smoke flavor, but will still be tasty.

2. Feel free to add other ingredients such as diced onions, tomatoes, etc.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10 servings

Serving Size:

1 Cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 225gSaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 1000mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2.5gSugar: 12gProtein: 20g

NOTE: nutrition information isn't always accurate.

Smoked Kalua Pork

Kalua pork has sweet and savory flavors.
Kalua pork has sweet and savory flavors.

I have been BBQ’ing for a full year now and during these 12 months, I have smoked dozens of pork shoulders. I was doing them the same way for a while in order to get myself more confident with the process. In fact, you can find the recipe I used repeatedly here. Now that my comfort level is to the point that I no longer need to refer to a recipe, I’ve decided to experiment a little more with the Boston butts. The warmer time of year gets me thinking about tropical vacations and the fun meals that come along with them. One of my many sisters-in-law (I married into a family of eight siblings) has been wanting to get family together and have a backyard luau with kalua pork. I summoned the powers of cyberspace and looked up recipes I could use in the smoker and came across one from Harry Soo at www.slapyodaddybbq.com. I used the kalua pork recipe from his site and added some personal touches of my own.

For your reference, the term “kalua” means “cook in an underground oven.” Not to be confused with Kahlua, the sweet, coffee-flavored alcoholic beverage from Mexico. I’m sure you could incorporate Kahlua into your kalua, but I chose Worcestershire Sauce instead because I don’t like to party.


SMOKED KALUA PORK

Ingredients:

1 pork shoulder (Boston butt), about 7 lbs.

2 teaspoons Hawaiian red sea salt

2 Tablespoons chicken bullion

1/4 Cup of your favorite BBQ rub

1-2 banana leaf/leaves

Mopping Sauce:

1 13 oz. can crushed pineapple

1/4 Cup (or half stick) butter, melted

1/4 Cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons apple juice

1 Tablespoon Teriyaki sauce

Wood: hickory, peach

Smoker temp: 275°F

Meat temp: 195-203°F

Time: nine hours (five unwrapped, four wrapped)


To begin, I started the night before to let the ingredients flavor up the shoulders a bit (note: don’t forget to rinse and pat dry the pork shoulders prior to seasoning). You can do this at least an hour before smoking, but I didn’t want to wake up earlier than I needed to I chose to do it this way. First, I like to apply the Worcestershire sauce to help the other ingredients stick. The Hawaiian red sea salt, chicken buillon, and your favorite rub can be mixed together and applied, but I put them on one at a time. Regarding these ingredients, Hawaiian red sea salt can be tough to find locally. That is, unless you live in the Aloha State. I was able to find this at an Asian market, as well as the banana leaf to be used later. If you have no luck finding it near you, there’s always Amazon. If you’re like me and don’t purchase chicken bullion much, if at all, then here’s a tip for you I learned from this experience: bullion doesn’t always come in cubes. You can buy it already in the powder form. If you buy it in cubes, then you have to beat it down into powder, which I did by placing in a plastic bag and pounding with a rolling pin. For the rub, I tried the Bacon BBQ rub from Meat Church. It was my first time using it and I loved the flavor when I sampled it at my local BBQ shop.

The pre-seasoning ingredients.
The pre-seasoning ingredients.

After seasoning, I placed both pork shoulders into a large bowl and let rest overnight (FYI- the recipe I am posting is for one pork shoulder).

These two pork shoulders were seasoned and left in the fridge overnight.
These two pork shoulders were seasoned and left in the fridge overnight.

I got my smoker going the next morning and got the temperature of 275°F. Some do it at a lower temp and have it cook longer, but I like the 275°F temp and keep it in there for about 5 hours for this first step. Usually with Kalua pork recipes, they call for mesquite wood to smoke with. Since I had no mesquite wood on me, I used hickory and then I also wanted to put some Peach wood in there for a little bit of a sweeter flavor. I let that go for five hours, spritzing with a mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar once an hour.

Measuring temp on the pork shoulder with the Chef Alarm from Thermoworks.
Measuring temp on the pork shoulder with the Chef Alarm from Thermoworks.

After five hours and the internal temperature at about 150°F, I removed from the smoker. Leading up to this, I lay down two layers of heavy duty foil first, then a banana leaf. The banana leaf is usually a difficult one to find, but I found mine locally at an Asian market, just like the Hawaiian red sea salt. Rinse the banana leaf put it down on the foil, and then get the pork shoulder and place it on the banana leaf for wrapping, but don’t wrap yet.

Pulled from the smoker after five hours and placed directly on the banana leaves.
Pulled from the smoker after five hours and placed directly on the banana leaves.

Now you want to get your mopping sauce (hopefully you thought ahead unlike me and have already put it together) and spread it all over the pork shoulder. If you forgot what the ingredients were, then check the picture below:

Ingredients for the mopping sauce.
Ingredients for the mopping sauce.

I didn’t use all of the sauce, but plenty enough. The melted butter, brown sugar, and crushed pineapple together made me want to eat this mixture by the spoonful, but I exercised restraint and added the other two ingredients for mixing. I improvised with the teriyaki sauce. It just seemed fitting that a Hawaiian dish but have some sort of Teriyaki flavoring to it.

The mopping sauce.
The mopping sauce.

I apply the sauce and the pork shoulder looks like a mess. That’s okay, because it’s supposed to happen. Now wrap up in the banana leaf. The pack I bought had some pretty long leaves and I used one to wrap it up. It didn’t cover the pork shoulder completely, but the foil will help keep things in place.

The pork gets sauced.
The pork gets sauced.

I’m still unsure how relevant the banana leaf is to the flavor. I do know it is tradition to have it in the recipe for wrapping purposes because the leaf can hold the heat and juices in. When I find out for sure, I’ll update this post with that info.

Wrap upon wrap.
Wrap upon wrap.

Now that the banana leaf has wrapped around the pork shoulder, I wrap the foil around it and then throw it in the oven at 275°F for four hours *GASP!* Yep, in the oven because 1) I don’t wanna mess with regulating the heat in my smoker for four hours and 2) the meat had already absorbed five hours of smoke and won’t be able to take in much more than that.

There's something tasty cooking under that leaf.
There’s something tasty cooking under that leaf.

After four hours wrapped in the oven, the shoulder reaches 195°F, which is where pulling the pork gets to the point of easy shredding.  I unwrap and let it sit for about 20 minutes so the juices build up.

Kalua pork has sweet and savory flavors.
Kalua pork has sweet and savory flavors.

Between 195-203°F, the internal temp of the pork becomes easier too shred, thus meaning less time it takes to do that and the sooner you can your guests can dig in!

Ah, a savory sea of swine.
Ah, a savory sea of swine.

Enjoy!

Bacon-wrapped Pineapple with Pulled Pork

Pineapple gets an upgrade.
Pineapple gets an upgrade.

When browsing Instagram, I like to find things that inspire me. I usually repost them on my account (@learningtosmoke) and sometimes I end up trying them myself. I found a magical fusion of sweet and savory, reposted it, and then made it myself. These bacon-wrapped pineapple chunks with pulled pork were worth a try in my mind. Here’s what I did:

BACON-WRAPPED PINEAPPLE WITH PULLED PORK 

Ingredients: 

1 pineapple, cut into chunks

12 slices of bacon, halved

4 oz. pulled pork (usually from leftovers…when that actually happens)

1/2 cup brown sugar

Rub, as much as you wish

Maple syrup, enough to drizzle at the end

Wood: apple

Smoker Temp.: 240°F

Time: 75 minutes, grill/broil afterward to crisp the bacon

Pineapple. Pulled pork. Bacon. Come together...right now...
Pineapple. Pulled pork. Bacon. Come together…right now…

When looking for a pineapple, there are various ways to find a ripe one. I like to lightly tug at one of the leaves on the crown on top. If the leaf pulls with little resistance, then buy it because that bad boy is ripe! Other methods, such as smelling a sweet scent on the bottom or some yellow coloring on the skin, are good indicators.

When slicing the pineapple, start by cutting off the crown and the bottom. Next, slice the rough, outer skin off because ain’t nobody got time for eating that. Once that is done, you are ready to slice off some pineapple chunks. I start at the top and cut down in an X-formation, making four quarter portions. I get rid of the core by carving it off the inside of each portion. Now I put the freshly carved side down and make two evenly-spaced slices long ways and then start cutting them horizontally, cubed into chunks. Once I got my chunks made, I sprinkle brown sugar on them to sweeten it up and let it sit so it can blend with the juices from the pineapple. Now that I’ve made you read all of this, here’s a video on what I’m trying to describe… and more: How to choose and slice a pineapple.

Next is the bacon. I used regular-sliced bacon because I think it wraps better. I apply rub to the individual slices and then cut them in half, slicing across the grain.

Rubbed and sliced...well, some of it at least.
Rubbed and sliced…well, some of it at least.

Once that is done, it’s time to take some of your leftover pulled pork and a pineapple chunk and wrap them in the bacon. You will want to wrap it a little tight so the pulled pork doesn’t come loose and fall out. I put them on a skewer, three at a time. You can also use toothpicks to keep them together if you wish.

Wrapping and stabbing.
Wrapping and stabbing.

Hopefully, you thought ahead and got your smoker ramping up to the proper heat temp. I used apple wood with this one, but feel free to use whichever wood you like with pork (personally, I want to try pecan wood next). Now that the smoker is up to 240-250°F, put the food on. You’ll want to keep them on for about an hour to let them absorb the smoke-flavored goodness.

Pineapple gets an upgrade.
This picture looks familiar…

Once that is done, remove from smoker and put them on high heat for a few minutes to crisp the bacon. You can do this on the grill, in the broiler, or on the stove in a pan. However you cook those strips of meat candy should work. When the bacon looks good enough for you, then it’s time to pull them off, drizzle the maple syrup, and enjoy!

Sweet. Savory. Juicy.
Sweet. Savory. Juicy.

Give them a shot and met me know what you think!

Pulled Pork

IMG_20160214_092111

One of my favorite meats to smoke is pork shoulder. I like it because it is a very forgiving meat, meaning that you can screw up (to an extent) and have it still turn out pretty good. While I’m still new to the true form of BBQ, I have smoked over a dozen pork shoulders during this short time. It is the meat I have the most experience with thus far. I have researched and experimented with different approaches to this and have come to make this one my own.

Meat: pork shoulder (aka- pork butt, Boston butt)

Ingredients: spicy brown mustard, rub(s), apple juice or apple cider vinegar

Wood: apple

Smoke: 275°F/135°C

Time: about 8 hours

Finish Temp.: between 195-205°F/90.5°-96°C

Rest: 45-60 minutes

20160218_090105-1

Once you pull the pork shoulder out of the fridge, take it out of the package and pat the meat dry from the juices in the packaging. Once that is done, I spread the spicy brown mustard all around the meat. This not only adds a little flavor, but also helps the rub stick better. I have found I like my pork with a little sweet and spice, so I go with a mix of Plowboys Yardbird Rub and Obie-Cue’s Sweet N’ Heat spicy brown sugar rub. Since I don’t like too much spicy heat, I do two parts Yardbird and one part Sweet N’ Heat. But if you dig the heat, then reverse the rub application.

Rubbed, rested, and ready.
Rubbed, rested, and ready.

Something else I’ve learned is that you’ll want to let the meat rest before putting it in the smoker. That way, the rub penetrates a little more and the meat cooks a little better at the start.

Once the smoker is up to 275°F, it is time to put the shoulders in. I keep them in the smoker for about six hours. However, I do on occasion (twice, but swiftly) lift the lid and spray apple juice or apple cider vinegar on it to help keep the meat juicy and from drying out. I also recommend putting a water pan inside the main chamber to help with that, as well. After the meat has been in the smoker for 6 hours, it can’t absorb much more smoky flavor after that point. So what I do to help accelerate the process is I pull the meat off the smoker and I double wrap it in heavy duty foil and put them back in at the same temperature for another 2 hours. I use my Thermopop digital food thermometer from Thermoworks for a quick, accurate reading to make sure it hits the zone for pulling/shredding/chopping, which is between 195°-205°F (or 95.5°-96°C for those who prefer Celcius). Note: pork is well-cooked and ready to eat when it hits an internal temp of 145°F, but if you want to reach that point in which it easily pulls/shreds/chops then it should be at the internal temps previously mentioned.

This pork shoulder is ready to be taken out and rest.
This pork shoulder is ready to be taken out and rest.

Now that it has reached the desired temperature and you’ve removed it from the smoker, it will smell and look SO delicious. You will be tempted to start pulling it apart immediately. For the sake of all that is holy in BBQ I urge you NOT to do this. The meat should sit out for at least 30 minutes before you start to pull it. That is because meat is muscle and when the meat is in the smoker, it is contracting on the inside while sweating out juices. Once the meat is done cooking, then the muscle starts to relax and let more of the juices absorb. I give it about 45 minutes of resting before I start to pull it apart.

The end result: a disappearing act come mealtime.
The end result: a disappearing act come mealtime.

Pulled pork makes a lot, so either show off to share with others or keep it for yourself and throw the leftovers in the freezer (Note: pulled pork freezes quite well, meaning it still tastes true to the original when you thaw and reheat it).

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to share in the comments.