Commando Dave's BBQ

Yucatan-style Smoked Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe makes for EPIC street tacos, combining the fantastic flavors of our Commando Dave’s Caveman Rub with the tropical flavors of banana leaves and Mexican achiote (dried annatto seeds). This recipe is one that will have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds!

Yucatan-style Smoke Pulled Pork

The combination of smoke, citrus, and chilis - all wrapped in banana leaves - creates a sweet and savory pulled pork perfect for street tacos (as shown in the cover photo).
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time6 hrs
Resting time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: BBQ, Mexican
Keyword: Caveman Rub, Pulled Pork
Servings: 12
Calories: 302kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Smoker set to 275 degrees
  • 1 Pack of aluminum foil You'll use a LOT of foil in this recipe to encase the pork and retain all of the amazing juices you'll add back into the pulled pork at the end.
  • 2 Beach towels I use old beach towels specifically for BBQ.
  • 1 Insulated cooler I use a cooler specifically for BBQ because it tends to permanently absorb the smoke flavor.
  • 1 Large bowl For brining the pork butt, and then later for pulling the pork when it's cooked and rested.
  • 1 Small bowl For mixing the rub together.
  • 10-12 Chunks of Hickory Wood You can substitute another hard wood, but I really like the robust flavor that hickory imparts here to balance the sweetness of the lime juice.
  • 1 baking (aka cookie) sheet For use in retaining moisture during turning and the second wrapping of aluminum foil during the smoking process.
  • 1 Pair of heavy duty welding gloves For safely handling the pork butt packages during the smoking process. Heavy duty welding gloves are indispensable for working with hot grills.
  • 1 Set of Bear Claws to pull the pork You can also use forks or, as a last resort, chop your pork with knives (though this technically will make it chopped pork, not pulled pork).

Ingredients

  • 1 4-6lb Pork Butt You can do this either bone-in or boneless, though bone-in will require a longer smoking time.
  • 4-6 cups water For brining the pork butt. While brining is optional, I highly recommend it as it helps keep the pork moist during the smoking process. You want enough brine to cover the pork.
  • 1/4 cup coarse Kosher salt For use in brining, with the traditional ratio of 1 cup coarse Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. It doesn't have to be precise, hence the 4-6 cups of water to 1/4 cup of salt in this recipe.
  • 1 pkg frozen banana leaves Available at most Latin and Asian food markets
  • 3 tbsp Commando Dave's Caveman Rub
  • 1 pkg Goya-brand Culantro y Achiote Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice While you can substitute bottled lime juice, I think it's less expensive and more flavorful to use fresh lime juice.

Instructions

  • Make the brine by dissolving 1/4 cup of salt in 4-6 cups of water in a bowl large enough so the pork butt is fully immersed in the brine. Brine the pork butt for 1 hour.
  • While the pork butt is brining, unwrap and rinse off your banana leaves.
  • Place a double layer of aluminum foil (2-3 feet long) on a countertop and place half of your banana leaves on top of the foil.
  • Remove your pork butt from the brine and rinse with water. Place the pork butt in the center of the banana leaves.
  • In a small mixing bowl, blend together the Caveman Rub with the package of Goya Culandro y Achiote (Cilantro and Achiote) seasoning.
  • Sprinkle the dry rub blend evenly over the entire pork butt.
  • Carefully and slowly pour the lime juice over the pork butt. Note that the banana leaves will help stop the lime juice from pouring over the countertop, but you'll want to work quickly to prevent the juice from running away.
  • Place the remaining half of banana leaves over the top of the pork butt.
  • Fold the bottom layer of banana leaves up over the top layer.
  • Fold one side of the banana leaves up over the top.
  • Fold the remaining side of the banana leaves over the top so that the pork butt is fully and somewhat tightly encased in banana leaves. Our goal here is to create a 'package' of banana leaves that will help the pork steam and braise in the lime juice and fat rendered from the pork butt during the smoking process.
  • Fold up the sides of the aluminum foil around the banana leaf packet.
  • Fold up one end of the aluminum foil.
  • Fold up the remaining side so that it the package is fully sealed.
  • Add the pork butt package, seam side up (so it retains all those amazing juices!) on the smoker. Note: there are two pork butt packages in this photo as I was cooking for a crowd of fellow Purple Heart recipients. :-)
  • Smoke at 275 degrees for 3 hours.
  • Next to smoker, with a baking sheet as a base (to capture any juices that run out), lay out a 2-3 foot sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Using heavy duty welding gloves to protect your hands, quickly and carefully remove the pulled pork package from the grill and - very quickly and over the top of the foil layer on the baking sheet - turn over the pork butt package so the seam side is now facing down. Pull the sides of the new layer of aluminum foil to retain as much liquid as possible around the pork butt.
  • Tightly cover the pork butt with the new layer of aluminum foil so it is fully sealed.
  • Using your welding gloves, carefully return the pork butt to the smoker and smoke for another 2-3 hours until the internal temperature of the pork butt reaches 190-195 degrees. You can also tell the pork is nearly done when the pork feels very loose and fall-apart tender in the foil package.
  • When the pork is ready to come off the smoker, place one beach towel along the inside of the insulated cooler.
  • Wearing your welding gloves, carefully move your pork package - keep it flat to prevent juices from running out through the seams - to the cooler.
  • Cover the pork butt with the sides of the beach towel and lay another beach towel over the top to maximize the insulation. Let the meat rest for at least 2 hours, but up to 4-6 hours.
  • Once the meat is completely rested, unwrap the pork butts from the towels in the cooler. Carefully move the pork butt - keeping it as flat as possible to prevent losing all those amazing juices - to the countertop.
  • Carefully, leaving the sides up to retain juices, unwrap the foil so the banana leaf packet is exposed. Note in the photo how the banana leaves have softened and released their flavorful moisture.
  • Carefully unwrap the banana leaves to reveal the Heavenly goodness that you've created!
  • Note in this closeup photo how fall-apart tender the pork butt has become.
  • Note in this photo that I'm using forks to show you how the pork is ready to shred along the grain (the key element of pulled pork).
  • Move your pork butt to a large bowl and pour in all of those juices retained in the aluminum foil and banana leaf packets. Once you pour the juices in the bowl with your pork butt, you can discard the banana leaves and aluminum foil.
  • This is step where you "pull" the pork, so break out those invaluable Bear Claws for shredding the pork. You can use two forks as well, but they tend to make the pork shreds smaller.
  • Carefully shred the pork in the bowl so that it is fully shredded into the desired size. I like to shred my pork so there is a good combination of smaller pieces with a few longer (2-3") pieces as well. This is where personal preference comes into play.
  • Serve immediately or cover and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. Leftovers (as if!) can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Note in this photo, I'm serving pulled pork street tacos, with the pulled pork on a corn tortilla and covered with diced white onion, fresh cilantro, fresh guacamole, and Mexican crema drizzled on top.

Notes

As with all pulled pork, adequately resting the pork after the smoke is critical to the tenderness of the final product. Wrapping the finished pork in old beach towels and placing them in an insulated cooler helps the pork rest and prepare for shredding, as well as keeping the food at serving-temperature warmth for 4-6 hours. Please do yourself a favor and don't skip this critical step.
If you cook more than one pork butt (as I do in the photos above), please wrap each pork butt individually. Doing so ensures that your pork cooks more evenly and is far easier to work with than trying to bundle multiple pork butts into a single package of banana leaves and foil.
You can get frozen banana leaves from most Latin and Asian food markets. They are inexpensive, help retain moisture during the smoke, and add a mild tropical flavor to the food. Banana leaves are long (up to 4 feet), so give yourself lots of counter space to lay out your full leaves.
You can find the Goya Suzon Cilantro y Achiote (Cilantro and Achiote) seasoning at most Latin food sections in your grocery store. You can also order it online. You can also substitute it with achiote paste, which you can find online or in Latin food markets. If you use achiote paste, please make sure you break it down into the lime juice used in the recipe. The achiote, which is ground-up Annatto seeds, adds a wonderful flavor while also adding a red hue to your pulled pork. It's a key element of this recipe.
For shredding pulled pork, I use Bear Claws because they help tear the pork into long strands along the natural grain of the meat. You can also use two forks in a pinch or - my least preferred method - chop the pork with a cleaver or butcher knife. The Bear Claws are American-made, inexpensive, and durable, so they're a worthwhile purchase if you make pulled pork more than once. Disclaimer: I don't receive any remuneration for the products I recommend. My respect for you, cherished Grill Commandos, is far too important to risk being a shill for the "man." ;-)

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 781mg | Fiber: 0.04g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 3mg
  • This pulled pork recipe makes for EPIC street tacos, combining the fantastic flavors of our Commando Dave’s Caveman Rub with the tropical flavors of banana leaves and Mexican achiote (dried annatto seeds). This recipe is one that will have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds!

  • For street tacos, serve this pulled pork on corn tortillas (though flour tortillas work just as well), topped with fresh guacamole, diced white onions, chopped fresh cilantro, and a drizzle of Mexican crema. Bon appetit, Grill Commandos!

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