Competition Pulled Pork With Apple Butter

Flashback BBQ Recipe

This BBQ recipe is a “Flashback Recipe” from the first year or two for House of Q as a competition BBQ team. This recipe was one of the BBQ entries for BBQ Brian Misko and his cooking partner Glenn Erho.

The first time this pulled pork recipe was used was at the BC Chilli and BBQ Festival held at EAT Vancouver in May of 2005. If all the details could be recalled, this pulled pork was probably only the fourth or fifth time the duo had even cooked a pork butt. For today’s competitors, it is more likely for some teams to cook 6 or more pork butts in a single cook yet alone in total for experience! Admittedly there has been tremendous improvements made over the years as more experience was absorbed… In fact so much so, BBQ Brian and House of Q were at the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational BBQ Competition in 2014 where they were awarded amongst 92 teams from 24 countries, the 6th best pulled pork in the world! So, yes, improvements indeed from this very early recipe.



8-10 lb – bone-in pork butt
1/2-3/4 cup – House of Q Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce

Pork Rub:

This is a recipe from Paul Kirk, the “Baron of BBQ” from Kansas City, in his book “Championship Barbecue”. It is simply called “Barbecue Pork Rub” and it is a perfect example to understand balance… that is, balance of saltiness to sweetness to savouriness. Paul Kirk is THE master of spices and flavour in our opinion and his books and classes taught BBQ Brian and Glenn many things about competition BBQ.

1 cup – light brown sugar
2 TB – sweet paprika
1 TB – dry mustard
1 TB – onion salt
1 TB – celery salt
1 TB – chilli seasoning
1 TB – seasoned salt
1 TB – black pepper

Basting Spritz:

3/4 cup – maple syrup
3/4 cup – apple juice

Shredding Sauce:

1 cup+ – House of Q Apple Butter BBQ Sauce
1/2-1 cup – apple cider vinegar
Salt – optional and to taste
Pork Rub – optional and to taste


Start by mixing all the spices for the rub in a bowl. A colander can be helpful to make sure it is all mixed well. Put in an air tight container and set aside.

To prepare the pork butt, slather the entire roast with Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce. Yes, I used the word “slather” – that is what it was called when we learned how to do competitive BBQ. It seems that terminology changes in time and the modern term is somehow to call this step a “binder”. Whatever you call it, don’t skip this step! It is critical to adding flavour to your pork! Slather that mustard sauce all over! Then sprinkle fairly liberally all sides with the Pork Rub including the bottom. Set aside once done.

Prepare your cooker for indirect smoking. If using charcoal, fill your charcoal ring with coal and light ONLY two or three coals. Place them in the center of the unlit coals and add wood chips throughout. We like using maple, oak and cherry for flavour and colour. Stabilize your cooker at 225 – 235 F and get ready to cook.

Once your cooker is ready, place the pork butt on your cooker and close the lid. Cook for 4-6 hours without lifting the lid. Monitor the cooking temperature to keep it at the goal of 225 – 235 F.

Spritzing pork

After the first 6 hours or so, the pork is no where ready however it needs your attention. Check to see if the roast needs to be rotated for even cooking, check internal temperature and record in your cooking log book and spritz with the apple juice and maple syrup mixture. Close the lid and keep cooking. Repeat this check and spritz pattern every hour for another 2-4 hours until the meat temperature is ABOVE 165 F. It might be even best to keep this pattern up until the roast is above 175 F (or broken through the “stall”). The important part here is that large pieces of meat as they are cooked at lower temperatures will “stall” and frustrate many new cooks. Keep going… the meat still has a long way to go to be at the target finished temperature.

At this point, take a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and place the pork butt on the foil. Wrap tightly. It might take two sheets of foil. Return to the cooker and keep cooking at 225 – 235F.

There’s no need to sprit through the next steps however you need to monitor the temperature of the meat. It is ready to be removed from the cooker to rest when it reaches above 200F. For us as a competitive entry we would stop ready the temperature number and start to feel for the right texture. One day the temperature will be 202 F and the next time it will be 209 F. But both pork butts will have exactly the same texture. This is what one may call or describe as the “art of BBQ” where each person has their own feeling for the right texture.

Once the pork butt has been removed from the cooker and rested for 30 or more minutes it is ready to be shredded. Open the foil carefully catching the liquids from inside the foil. Set the liquids aside and use either two forks (simple method) or your hands covered with cotton gloves and then food gloves on top of that to finger shred (better method). Shred until there is consistent sized pieces and you have removed the bone, any cartilage or un-dissolved fat pockets.

The pork needs more flavour now even though it took on smoke and created an awesome “bark” or crust. Taste the un-sauced pork. Check for seasoning… does it need salt? more rub? Add those in small quantities if needed and check the flavour once again. Add House of Q Apple Butter BBQ Sauce and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the apple cider vinegar. Check for the right taste once again. Adjust as you see fit.

The Role of Vinegar:

The unique part of this method is the use of vinegar in the shred. We did this for our competition trays for a number of years since it added a nice layer of flavour to the smoke, rub and sauce. The origins of this are from the Carolina’s in the United States where vinegar sauces are dominant as versus fruit or tomato based sauces. Either way you like your pulled pork, the judges loved what we were doing! We won awards for it too! This exact recipe won House of Q first place pork at our third-ever contest in Calgary, Alberta.

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