If you dream of achieving the perfect pulled pork or a tender, juicy brisket like your favorite pit-house, follow these 7 easy steps to learn how.
Carolina Pulled Pork with Lexington Red Sauce
Credit: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

There are two key concepts to remember when barbecuing meat: low temperature and smoke. The low heat allows the meat to tenderize while the smoke provides a much-desired pinkinsh ring called the "smoke ring". Even if you don't have a traditional pit smoker, your charcoal or gas grill can still do the trick.

Step 1: Start with the right cut of meat. Try a whole pork shoulder, Boston butt, or beef brisket. Trim the fat to about 1/8-inch thick and season generously with your favorite rub. Wrap the meat tightly with plastic wrap and let it chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2: If you want to use wood chips to achieve a smoky flavor, soak them in water overnight. Soaking prevents them from burning so as the chips smolder, they produce smoke that flavors the meat and yields the desired smoke ring. Experiment with different flavors such as hickory, alder, apple wood, or mesquite. Assume you will need about 1 handful of chips per 30 minutes.

Step 3: Get an early start because slowly barbecuing meat takes time. Light your smoker or prepare your charcoal or gas grill using indirect heat. Bring the temperature of the smoker or grill up to 250°. While the grill heats, remove the meat from the fridge and let it sit out for 30 to 45 minutes to bring it to room temperature. This will ensure even cooking. Note: when using a gas grill with two burners, light one side and set the meat above the other side. Put the smoking chips in a cast-iron smoker box and place the box on top of the heat source.

Step 4: Place the meat fat side down and cook for two hours. Turn the meat fat side up and continue to cook maintaining the temperature in the smoker between 225° and 250°. Assume 1 1/2 hours per pound for the total cook time. Every time you add wood chips or charcoal, spritz the meat with a vinegar-based sauce or apple juice to add moisture.

Step 5: When 2 hours remain, spritz the meat generously with the sauce or apple juice and wrap the meat in aluminum foil. Place it back on the grill to finish cooking. When the internal temperature reaches 195° for pork and 155° for brisket the meat is ready. For truly tender brisket, continue cooking until 185°. Remember that when smoking, the temperature of the meat, not the time is the most important factor in determining doneness.

Step 6: Remove the meat from the smoker and let it cool for 15 to 30 minutes before removing and discarding the foil. Remove the bones and then begin pulling, or shredding, the meat with two large forks. Remove and discard any fat.

Step 7: Add the sauce of your choice to the pulled pork and toss (Mouthwatering Barbecue Sauces).