A Splash Of Apple Cider Is The Key To Tender And Juicy Pulled Pork

Nothing beats the succulent, smoky flavor of excellent pulled pork, but one of the common issues when cooking it is to strike the balance between developing smokiness without allowing the meat to dry out. Tasting Table recipe developer Petar Marshall offers the perfect solution to this problem with his apple cider smoked pulled pork recipe. Apple cider and apple cider vinegar come together in this dish to give the smoked pork a subtle sweetness and reintroduce some moisture back into the cut of meat. Apple and pork are a classic flavor combo — just think of pork chops and applesauce. 

Marshall evokes this flavor pairing with an innovative technique, by whisking together apple cider vinegar and apple cider. He then transfers the apple concoction into a spray bottle and sprays it all over the pork two hours into the smoking process. "Spraying comes in after two hours on the smoker because it would be too wet at first," he notes. From there Marshall sprays the entire pork butt every 30 minutes. "The spray is meant to help keep moisture once the meat starts to dry out," he explains. It continuously adds moisture to the meat and replenishes any juices lost during the smoking process. The proper term for this technique is spritzing, and it's commonly used when barbecuing and typically features a combo of vinegar and juice as Marshall uses. 

Additonal techniques to keep your pulled pork moist

Keeping the pulled pork moist doesn't end with spritzing, and Marshall advises to wait an hour after the pork finishes cooking before shredding it. The cooling period is crucial to the integrity of the dish because the pork "will dry out if ripped apart immediately," he notes. Before serving the pork, Marshall pours the remaining apple cider and apple cider vinegar mixture over the shredded pork. Aside from keeping the meat extra juicy, this step infuses a more prominent apple note and an additional tanginess from the vinegar, resulting in a balanced flavor profile of sweet, smoky, and tangy — everything you want in barbecued meat.

If you end up with leftover pulled pork, there are certain ways to reheat it to ensure it remains flavorful and juicy. One of the most popular methods is to set your oven at a low temperature and add some liquid to the pork so it rehydrates. You can even use some of the apple cider and apple cider vinegar mixture to keep that flavor profile. Another popular way to reheat is the microwave. Like the oven technique, you'll simply add some of the apple mixture or just straight apple cider to the pork before reheating. This ensures your leftovers are just as succulent as the original version.