Which Meat is Best for Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is a great place to start your culinary learning curve of smoking and barbecue. Not only is it relatively inexpensive and incredibly delicious, it is a forgiving meat that can still taste good even if you serve it slightly over or under-cooked, unlike cuts such as brisket and ribs. These reasons and more makes pulled pork one of the easiest smoked meat recipes to learn as a beginner.

Although it may seem intimidating at first, anyone can “pull off” a pulled pork dinner. But the first step to a good pulled pork is selecting the proper cut of meat. Continue reading to learn which cut of meat is the most popular for pulled pork and why.

Smoked Pulled Pork Dinners 317-688-7290

Smoked Pulled Pork Dinners 317-688-7290

Pork Shoulder is the Good Choice

By far, the most popular cut of meat to use for smoking pulled pork is pork shoulder. This is for a few good reasons. First, pork shoulder is pretty affordable compared to other cuts; you can purchase quality pork shoulder for a little more than $3 per pound.

It is also readily available at most grocery stores, butcher shops, and artisanal meat shops. At grocery chains, pork shoulder is generally sold in two cuts: pork butt and pork shoulder. At your local butcher, you can request a whole shoulder (which can weigh between 12 and 16 pounds) or a custom cut if you like.

Another reason why pork shoulder is a great choice for pulled pork is that it doesn’t dry as quickly as other pieces of meat. If you accidentally overcook it, you can still serve it and enjoy it with your favorite sauce. So long as you maintain within safe temperatures, you can even get away with under-cooking it a bit.

Also, the amount of collagen and fat in pork shoulder help a lot. The collagen breaks down into simple sugars during the smoking process, making the meat sweet and delicate. And the amount of fat that melts away gives the meat a tender and juicy consistency that builds a flavor without using any rubs are sauces.

Pork Shoulder Vs. Pork Butt

Pork shoulder makes up the whole front leg and shoulder of a hog. If you are shopping at the neighborhood grocery store, you can expect to find pork shoulder divided into two cuts. These two halves are the pork butt and pork shoulder, also referred to as the “Boston roast” and the “picnic roast.”

Pork butt is also known as “Boston butt” because it is the thicker section of the hog shoulder where there is more concentrated marbling, or fat running through the muscle. Sometimes pork butt contains shoulder blade bone, but most of the time, it does not. These monikers are where many people get confused. Pork butt actually comes from the shoulder of the hog, not the rear end. The term, “butt”, in this sense, is used to describe a blunt or thick end of something, like a gun or cigar.

The actual pork shoulder is from the same cut that the pork butt comes from, but at the thinner, triangle-shaped end. It has more bone than Boston butt, but will weight around the same, which is between 5 and 6 pounds. Picnic cuts can come without bone, but it is recommended to get one with the bone. As for champion pulled pork, pork butt is the top choice cut to use. Picnic cuts work just as well, but some compare it to unprepared ham.

Get Ready to Try Some Pulled Pork!

Pulled Pork Dinner at Rackz BBQ

Pulled Pork Dinner at Rackz BBQ 317-688-7290

Visit Rackz BBQ in Carmel, Indiana for delicious pulled pork entrees, hand-crafted barbecue sauces, and homemade side items, like peach baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and more. From appetizers and sandwiches, to salads, entrees, and desserts, there is much to choose from on our comprehensive BBQ menu, so be sure to try them all! Contact us at 317-688-7290 to ask us about our menu prices, weekly specials, and more. We accept call-ahead and takeout orders too!

3 Reasons Why You Should Tie a Roast

It is a common culinary practice to tie up various large cuts of meat prior to cooking, including chicken, beef tenderloin, pork loin, prime rib roast, and more. Although it isn’t a must, tying a roast can give your dish the extra “wow” factor you’ve been missing; it can even add a little convenience. In fact, if you give it just one try, you may never go back to your former roast preparation methods!

Continue reading to learn when you should tie a roast, and how to do it right!

Smoked Meat Dinners 317-688-7290

Smoked Meat Dinners 317-688-7290

Why Tie?

There are several reasons why tying a roast is beneficial. Usually, the reason stems from necessity. For instance, if you are preparing a stuffed entrée, binding the meat will help keep the filing inside during cooking. Likewise, if your roast is greatly misshapen or irregular, tying it up can give it a more uniform look and ensure even cooking.

Here are the top 3 reasons why it may be useful to tie a roast:

A Misshapen Roast – Often times, cuts of meat are uneven in shape and girth. Beef tenderloins, for instance, are usually thicker in the middle and thinner at the ends. By binding the ends beneath the roast, you can ensure even cooking and create a more appealing presentation.

A Filled or Split Roast – If you are preparing a roast that has been split down the center and filled with a stuffing of sorts, you risk losing a large amount of that stuffing during the cooking process. By binding the meat together, you can enclose the roast and keep the filling inside.

A Prime Rib Roast – For a truly lovely prime rib roast, many chefs remove the rib bones and tie them beneath the roast to create elevation during cooking without the use of a rack. This allows the heat to cook the roast evenly, all around.

Choosing a Twine

When it comes to using a twine to tie your meat, consider a butcher’s twine. Also referred to as “kitchen twine”, these products are made of cotton and grip the meat particularly well. Most culinary professionals use and recommend butcher’s twine. Although you may also use linen twine, it is generally more expensive. Avoid using colored, synthetic, or poly twine; but if you are in a pinch, you can substitute unwaxed dental floss.

Steps to Tying a Roast:

Create a slip knot on one end of your roast as the anchor. A slip knot will allow you to adjust the placement and tension of the string while tying up your roast.

Connect the twine to the anchor and begin wrapping it in a series of loose loops around the roast at one inch apart. You may need to shimmy the loops up to ensure you are covering the entire roast evenly.

Once the width of the roast is wrapped, create another piece of twine down the length of the roast, winding around each loop. Pull it tight at the end (do not squish the meat) and then secure it to the anchor knot.

It should look like this:

For Great Smoked BBQ, Call 317-688-7290!

A Tied Beef Tenderloin

Get Great Pork BBQ in Carmel!

If you are craving delicious barbecue and smoked meats, come to Rackz BBQ in Carmel for authentic flavors and great prices! We offer a wide selection of barbecue classics, house-made sides, and tasty desserts, all prepared using the freshest local ingredients. We also offer call ahead take out ordering and catering! Call 317-688-7290 to learn more about our current menu selections and specials, anytime.

A Basic Recipe for Seasoning Baby Back Ribs

When you are new to smoking barbecue, it is wise to start with the basics and work your way up the learning curve. One great way to do this is to memorize some fundamental “ground” recipes for certain cuts of meat you intend to work with. A good choice for beginners are baby back ribs since they are an easy cut if meat to season and prepare well.

Continue reading to learn a rudimentary recipe for seasoning pork ribs.

Rackz BBQ Carmel, IN 317-688-7290

Rackz BBQ Carmel, IN 317-688-7290

Whether you are cooking with a conventional smoker or Weber-style kettle grill, baby back ribs will turn out juicy and delicious if you use the right combinations of seasonings and technique. They are a real crowd pleaser, so mastering this recipe and then building on top of it will lay the foundation for you to become a meat smoking expert. There are infinite ways to season and dress pork ribs, so get familiar with this basic recipe, and then make it your own by changing it overtime!

Starter Baby Back Rib Rub:

Firmly-Packed Brown Sugar 1/4 Cup
Sweet Paprika 1/4 Cup
Black Pepper 3 Tablespoons
Coarse Salt 3 Tablespoons
Hickory-Smoked Salt 1 Tablespoon
Celery Seeds 2 Teaspoons
Garlic Powder 2 Teaspoons
Onion Powder 2 Teaspoons
Cayenne Pepper 1 Teaspoon


✏ This recipe calls for 2 to 3 teaspoons of seasoning per pound of meat, and makes around 1 cup.

✏ If you do not have hickory-smoked salt, you may use more coarse salt instead. If you are looking for hickory-smoked salt, you will find it with all the other seasonings in the grocery store.

✏ You can substitute hot paprika in place of sweet paprika if you want a spicier finish.

✏ Be sure to follow instructions for your smoker or grill to properly slow cook your baby back ribs.

✏ This seasoning recipe is also a great starter for pork shoulders, chicken, and other types of pork ribs.


Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl; no need to use a sifter or blender. In fact, your hands are the best tool you can use for this part. Just be sure to break up all the lumps really well. To store this seasoning rub, place it in an air-tight container and keep it in a cool, dry place. It will be good to go for up to 6 months.

Looking for Premium Baby Back Ribs in Carmel?

Rackz BBQ Carmel, IN 317-688-7290

Rackz BBQ

Rackz BBQ offers a wide selection of delicious smoked meats and southern comfort foods that are sure to please the entire family. If you don’t have time to sit down at our Carmel BBQ restaurant, place a takeout order for a hot and fresh meal on the go! Contact us at 317-688-7290 to place a call ahead order, or to learn more about our menu selections, prices, and specials.

Tips for Using Charcoal in a Smoker

Although many barbecue professionals might urge you to use hardwood logs in a smoker, there are many ordinary people out there that are perfectly fine heating theirs with charcoal. However, there are some proper ways to use charcoal in a smoker, otherwise, you risk jeopardizing the taste of your smoked meats.

Continue reading to learn some recommended methods of using charcoal in a smoker, as well as, some additional meat smoking tips that will have you cooking like a pro!

For Great Smoked BBQ, Call 317-688-7290!

Choosing a Quality Charcoal Product

Not all charcoals are a good fit for smoking meat. For instance, some self-starting products contain lighter fluid additives that induce and accelerate burning. These are not the type of chemicals you want to be cooking with. Not only are they bad for your health and the environment, they will cause meat to taste bad. So when it comes to choosing a charcoal product, the primary objective is to find one that burns for a long time at a continual high heat, and is free of additives.

Charcoal should be as clean and straightforward as possible for the best results. Beware of cheaper brands that add in anthracite or coal to make them burn hotter. Additionally, you want to avoid purchasing charcoal products that advertise “authentic flavors” of hickory or mesquite; charcoal should not have flavors at all. Instead, you can add some wood to your smoker, in addition to charcoal, to produce added flavor.

Modern,” briquette-style” charcoal is the most common on the market. These are manufactured using a natural, clean-burning, sugar-based binding agent that works well with smokers. Just be sure you choose the most wholesome product possible.

Storing Charcoal

Not only is it highly encouraged to use the cleanest, purest charcoal available, it is strongly urged to keep it protected in order for it to remain this way. Be sure to store your charcoal in a dry, temperature regulated area that is free from contaminants. It is not recommended to store charcoal in sheds or garages, since there is a high risk of contamination. Likewise, if charcoal becomes wet, it can be prone to mold growth; it won’t burn very well either.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is a great compromise between smoking with hardwood and smoking with charcoal, being that it is the closest alternative to smoking meat with hardwood, but without actually using real wood. Lump charcoal is made from real pieces of hardwood that have been fired into charcoal. When used in a smoker, it can render more authentic smoke flavors. Because it burns longer and hotter than standard charcoal products, it is usually more expensive; however, these attributes allow you to use less, which can make up for the initial cost overtime.

Got Barbecue on the Brain Now?

Rackz BBQ Carmel, IN 317-688-7290

Rackz BBQ

Visit Rackz BBQ in Carmel, Indiana for delicious smoked meat entrees, hand-crafted barbecue sauces, and homemade side items, like peach baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and more. From appetizers and sandwiches, to salads, entrees, and desserts, there is much to choose from on our comprehensive BBQ menu, so be sure to try them all! Contact us at 317-688-7290 to ask us about our menu prices, weekly specials, and more. We accept call-ahead and takeout orders too!